More and more, our jobs as marketers are to drive behavior. Sometimes that’s getting folks to buy something or more of something. Sometimes its to spend more time or interact with a brand in the hopes that will lead to them thinking about the brand in a moment of need. And more and more often, the behavior we all want is to drive people to advocate.
The best of marketing has always been about behavioral economics and those proven strategies that ‘nudge’ people to buy or take an action. Recently, behavioral science has been popularized and, even advanced, by some pretty smart people.
Robert Cialdini has the six drivers of persuasion (neat compressed summary here). The Heath Brothers have the “Rider” and the “Elephant.” Jonah Berger has his own six principles (“STEPPS”). Dan Ariely has his stuff. Paul Adams from Facebook has his own synthesis of what drives people to action.
There are great concepts born from research across many of these works. In fact, sometimes there is just too much in the behavioral canon to practically apply to a business problem today. In my article for FastCo Create last week outlining The Principles of Social Design, I made a point,
“Many of them, like ”loss aversion”--the tendency for people to move more quickly to avoid losing something rather than to gain something of value--are more like a bolt of fine, durable cloth than a ready-made suit of clothes. You need to know which ones to stitch together to tackle a particular problem.”
Practical Principles of Social Design
I am well aware that the Facebook sales and marketing team popularized the phrase “social by design.” This was used to package up the best practice approach to using the Facebook platform to drive engagement and advocacy KPIs from consumers.
Early on, Facebook found themselves having to educate traditional marketers on brand and agency sides about how Facebook was different than interruptive advertising. I find it ironic that that same group at Facebook has latched onto the mnemonic that Facebook is “the new print” to describe the popularization of clever graphics in use by brand after brand to generate object “likes.” It’s an old-school concept that any art director can understand. It just may not advance the people-centricity of the platform like ‘social by design’ did.
Facebook did not invent word of mouth behaviors. They merely built a platform that takes advantage of a some of them.
We (my team at Social@Ogilvy) have learned from 8 years of social media marketing and communications and a ton more time in related disciplines before that. We are sharp students of academics in this field. In fact, our original work was based upon Robert Cialdini’s six drivers of persuasion.
We needed a more practical synthesis of the best research-based ideas that predict why people will advocate (all forms of word of mouth including sharing content). Here is how we updated our original drivers into a new, highly useful “Principles of Social Design”
There are two parts to the principles. The first defines the messenger and outlines the various networks we might engage with to stimulate sharing or advocacy. These networks influence us all in new ways. Some are more influential because the network is made of family, friends or people with shared interests. The second part are the word of mouth drivers. These are the ways we design communications such that thye authentically capture the attention of people and networks of people and drive advocacy and, even, actions like sales.
Networks of Influence: The messenger matters. Trust in institutions and traditional media goes up and down (mostly down). And while there are new potentially influential voices in many markets and within certain contexts, sometimes what our friends, family and social connections say matters more.
Community Networks: How can we use communities to drive social behaviors? People come together around different affinities and interests. Sometimes that can be a brand. More often it’s a topic that matters to them – think about Maker communities; people who love the Outer Banks of North Carolina; or first time moms. If we can be of-use and deliver against the drivers of word of mouth, we can expect ideas and content to spread across the community.
Influencers: Who are the professional and amateur (and in-between) voices who may have some authority and potential influence on this subject? These may be popular bloggers, celebrities, popular Twitter users. Their subject matter expertise may be narrow like gadgets or raising adopted kids. If we deliver on the drivers of word of mouth, we can encourage influencers to share across their social graph. Sometimes this is akin to a mom reading about new family wellness techniques from a CNN Health editor, and sometimes it is a little closer to them like a tip from a mom you may not know yet who seems similar to you.
Content Network: How can we use our owned and controlled online and offline properties to extend the model? If for no other reason than to be found via Google, we need to use our own content network to publish relevant content such that when someone needs to know
Combine a thoughtful strategy around using the right Networks of Influence with The Drivers of Word of Mouth (see FastCo: The Principles of Social Design) and you are now designing with the Principles of Social Design. That’s what it takes to reliably spark sharing, advocacy, word of mouth and more.
Next post: An Inside View of The Drivers of Word of Mouth