It’s ideas, not just content that drives social networks.
It’s true that content acts as a kind of currency in social environments, as people share and trade on the latest information. But if content is currency it’s the ideas under that content that drives its real value. With that in mind it’s important for marketers not only to evaluate their content strategy but also the ideas that are driving that content. Aligning your marketing programs – and your brand for that matter – with the right idea can generate tremendous value. Here are just a few ways to connect your brand to the market potential embedded in an idea.
1. Ideas encourage a new kind of engagement. Many marketing models are based on a purchase consideration funnel. The problem with this model is that for many marketers their prospects don’t enter into the funnel very often. And when the prospect does enter the process, little time is available to build the kind of relationship that can overcome the commoditizing effects of the procurement process. But this is where the power of an idea can come into play. If you can align your brand and offerings with an idea that is important and relevant to your prospect you can start building a relationship well before the purchase process begins. Driven largely by social media and search behavior, the right idea allows the prospect to select and connect with your brand on a personal and sometimes even emotional level. These early idea-driven connections lead to relationships that become a real competitive advantage when your prospect does enter into the purchase consideration process.
2. Ideas as network connectors. The best ideas ignite passion and motivate people to share with others. Being connected to ideas that people care about is the best way to fan the flames of social media and word-of-mouth-marketing. The right idea also can be expansive and connect to multiple stakeholder communities by appealing to a common belief held by those communities. Aligned with the right idea your marketing program can harness the power of personal networks, to drive reach and sustain your presence.
3. Idea association = brand association. Aligning your brand with an idea can be an effective way to change stakeholder perceptions and your relationship with them. Being associated with an idea can reinvigorate a tired brand or draw attention to brand attributes previously overlooked by your target audience. How you connect to an idea also can affect the way you connect with your prospect. Demonstrate empathy with an idea owned by a target audience and you become a comrade. Contribute to the thinking around an idea and you become a collaborator. Share new insight or point of view and you become a leader in the eyes of your prospect. You don’t have to own an idea to leverage the power behind it.
Making the connection
Identifying your brand with an idea is simply a matter of stepping back and asking a few questions. If your brand and organization stand for something the answers will come easy, if not I would suggest the hard work to get to the idea would be worth it.
Answering these seven questions will allow you to see your marketing efforts and your content strategy in a new light.
- What ideas are my target audiences talking about?
- What idea does my brand stand for?
- What idea can my organization rally around?
- What is the core centralizing idea behind our value proposition?
- How can ideas be used to inject passion and emotion into my brand?
- How can ideas change perceptions and relationships among key stakeholders?
- How can ideas be used to create a cohesive marketing platform?
Thanks to shifts in social behavior and advances in technology, the act of expressing and sharing ideas has never been more prevalent or powerful. How do you plan on taking advantage of the new value that ideas can generate?
by Mike Hensley
Executive Vice President, Global Client Service
Cross posted at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network