How to make your ideas spread? How to make masses of people talk about your product or service? Those are the questions that every marketer should ask themselves, and give honest answers.
Jonah Berger’s Contagious, released a few years ago, recapped many of the proven viral marketing know-hows and introduced fresh views of its own. The book talks about engineering viral word-to-mouth spread of ideas, products and services. It talks about turning even the most boring products into the hot ‘watercooler topics’.
While Jonah introduces many great points on how to make your marketing spread like a virus, there was one particular idea that I find myself referencing over and over again. It was the idea of social currency, or rather the concept of evaluating your marketing in terms of how much social currency it provides to end customers.
What is Social Currency?
People are social beings. The quality and quantity of our relationships dictates how happy we are – whether in financial or emotional terms. The better your social skills, the more likely you are to succeed professionally, and the more likely you are to surround yourself with the people who make you happy.
Hence the term social currency. Social currency is everything we use in order to ‘buy’ recognition from other people.
Following the hot ongoing discussions makes you look like you’re ‘in the know’. Having in-depth knowledge in something makes you look like an expert. Having fascinating stories to tell makes you look like a smart, interesting person. Businesses that know how to utilize the need for social currency experience great success.
The premier example of everyday social currency providers are news outlets. News outlets have figured out that people don’t really read the news to gather information – they read it to remain on top of things so that when the conversation breaks out during lunch, they would gain recognition and social points from their peers.
In other industries, successfully leveraging the need for social recognition is much less frequent. Companies often focus on delivering the best, most-refined features in their products or services, but seldom think in terms of what kind of social value do their offerings have.
Simply by dedicating some energy into making your products or services worthy to talk about at the watercooler, your company can go a long way.