Your Content Isn't Social

by Bryan Rhoads on Nov 02, 2010
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As social marketers, we’re often asked to share and publish traditional marketing content in our social channels. We all know the drill… that demo from your product team, the animation from retail, those overly composed tweets pointing to your corporate .com product launch, etc.

Spoiler

It’s not shared, liked, re-tweeted, or viewed. It’s not entirely new or novel; it’s not functional or funny. It’s what we as marketers wanted to communicate… to you. It’s not what you wanted to consume or for that matter even needed.

It wasn’t designed for the social web. It is 1.0 digital content in a 2.0 conversational world.

It is natural after all. We get paid to promote. Paid to get our stuff in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Yet the modern social consumer creates a continuous inflection point. The competition for attention is intense, dynamic and ever-changing. Change in the only constant.

Enter SMO: Social Media Optimization

There’s a definition for Social Media Optimization (SMO) on Wikipedia. It’s a term originally coined by good friend Rohit Bhargava back in 2006. In its current form, the Wikipedia definition covers the more technical aspects of optimization like “linkability”, “tagging” and rewarding inbound links with reciprocity. I plan on updating Rohit’s lead.

At Intel, we’ve been working on an updated SMO approach and definition. Its a qualitative approach to Social Media Optimization – what makes it “social”? For us, SMO is a new litmus test as we develop content and campaigns. Its a “social reality check” we can share with our more traditional marketing peers.

Recently, the Intel Social Media Center of Excellence has tasked itself to update “Social Media Optimization” with an eye towards the qualitative… or what are the characteristics that would theoretically make our assets “social” or more successful in social environments.

The Social Consumer

Hat tip Brian Solis: The social consumer can be anyone of the following, at any one time:

  • A Peer and/or an Adversary
  • A Co-creator and/or Product Reviewer
  • An Advocate and/or an Idea Box
  • An Authority and/or Product Support
  • Etc.

We are not passive consumers of information. We require “active” and social actions like participation, sharing and control. After all, we’re the same dynamic audiences we’re trying to engage. Just like our audiences, we need creative programs, conversations and content of value.

We require a meaningful experience that provides us with a net gain. Taking this cue as marketers, it’s our job now to provide a clear role for the social consumer in our programs or content.

Ask yourself, does your content give them the ability to be one of the above roles? Does it allow for participation? Does it leverage native social actions? At worst, if we fail to provide a clear role for our audience, that gap may manifest itself into undesirable forms towards you and your brand.

Social Media Optimization – The Intel Litmus Test

So here’s the ‘Social Media Optimization’ meat. Here’s the main litmus test that Intel marketing is using when we look at creative assets, ideas, programs and social media efforts. Through experience and in theory, we’ve developed these 10 points for our social media practitioners (SMPs), our agency partners and creative partners, to benchmark against in order to reach a higher and theoretical level of social success.

Questions and qualifiers we can all use as we develop that next product video, that next web experience, that next tweet:

  1. Be Useful – is there clear value to the user?
  2. Be Interesting – messages need to be interesting to be shared.
  3. Be Human – the Internet is made up of people. people matter. this includes you.
  4. Scratch an Itch – solve problems. provide a service. create public goods.
  5. Social Design – encourage social actions (share, RT, like, video reply, spawn offline actions).
  6. Unadvertising – don’t sell or shill – solve problems, enlighten, share.
  7. Be Snackable – create short, discoverable, quick touch points for the social life-stream.
  8. Cater to Egos – help users look smarter.
  9. Build Trust & Community – be “we” and inclusive. Connect the next 1 Billion users
  10. Inspire – does it inspire you? If it doesn’t… why would it inspire others?

I’ve already seen value in sharing these principles with peers in my organization. I hope you find value as well. Thanks and I look forward to your feedback & comments.

@bryanrhoads

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Global emerging media strategies for Intel...