Culture at Mullen

Sailing the 14 Social C’s

February 13, 2012 Mullen

All marketers know about the classic 5 P’s of marketing – product, price, place, promotion and people. In the modern marketing era, I like to think there are 14 ways that brands can engage with consumers via social media – call them the 14 Social C’s for short.

  1. Conversation – Skittles once posted on Facebook:  “If you post a status update and no one comments, do you really exist?” The least expensive and most important C, conversation is the daily manning of your channels with content that stirs up engagement that equals organic growth. People want to communicate with brands just as they communicate with their friends. Hopefully, we get it right.
  2. Creative – The most expensive of the C’s, it’s taking an ad model of grabbing attention by spending to “go viral” with social sharing. It usually requires a big ad spend and is central to the campaign with a big TV push. Identified by the “I must share this with my friends” feeling you have when you see it. When it works, it is great (see: Old Spice guy and Twitter). But is anyone else experiencing hashtag, QR code, and Shazam fatigue from all the Super Bowl ads trying to move us from the big screen to the smaller social screen? Just getting eyeballs isn’t as productive as the dialogue from driving conversation.
  3. Content – The information. Just as a static website has information consumers can access, you need to have this on social, and it has to be on-brand and of value to the audience. But, increasingly, content is going live/streaming, like the recent Obama “fireside chat” that took place on the White House website, Google Plus, YouTube and Facebook. The content should be “liquid and linked,” as Joe Tripodi of Coca-Cola wrote, so it moves smoothly across all relevant platforms to reach consumers.
  4. Contest – Let’s face it: ad agencies are becoming promotion agencies. You are giving something away for free to the community (a tenet of all good social) and tapping into the selfish gene in all of us. Just beware that when you buy your friends with cash and prizes, you wind up with friends who want you to give them cash and prizes.
  5. Collaboration – Or call it Crowdsourcing. What happens when a brand lets go and allows consumers to speak on its behalf? Doritos’ Super Bowl spots, the Olympus PEN Ready Project and other brilliant creations. For those brands willing to give up control and trust the wisdom of the crowd, collaboration on new products and designs and even marketing campaigns can bear amazing results.
  6. Customization – We all want to be engaged with brands on our own terms and have an experience that suits our own interests (Google Plus circles are one example of this). Of course, the flip side of a Flipboard-like customizable experience is giving up your privacy. You’re now whoever your search engine thinks you are based on your surfing or your Facebook profile Likes. Suggest: Facebook Is Using You to give yourself the chills — Big Brother is watching you.
  7. Challenge – Online gaming is alive and well and, according to one survey, a quarter of U.S. women play more than three hours of mobile games daily.  It was the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who said: “Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.” Play and competition are the basis of challenges, and social challenges stir up engagement.
  8. Cause – The story of how social is transforming how consumers engage around a cause, whether it’s in Egypt or next door, is well known. I loved Nicholas Kristof’s piece about the fourth-grade class that got Universal Studios to change how it is marketing The Lorax using Change.org.
  9. CRM – Whether you want to address customer complaints in social or not, they will come to you there because that’s where the customers are. Consider having a strategy that takes social CRM and links it your company’s infrastructure. I’m an admirer of what Nimble is doing to link all of a company’s contacts inside and outside of social on one platform.
  10. Commerce – How are you going to reward your fans and followers? Beyond the fun creative, the motivation to win and the best service, they want an exclusive deal for engaging you in social. And the experience of shopping is increasingly a social one, with sites encouraging you to share your purchases and considerations with friends. Mullen client LivingSocial has powerfully put social commerce to work. Social commerce requires a soft-sell approach that builds a rapport with consumers that leads them to consider a purchase or other activity.
  11. Cellular – You need a mobile social strategy because social is accessed on the phone or on your iPad, and anything you do on social should have a mobile entry point. Or use geo location. Or have an app. You want people to see your Tumblr blog looking optimized for mobile on your hot Galaxy Nexus phone.
  12. Conversion – Whether it’s Augmented Reality that transforms your toys into a digital game you control, or the JetBlue Getaways Granter that puts you in the center of a story, if a brand can entice you to convert yourself into bits and bytes, then they’ve accomplished engagement. Please, I beg of you, no more Facebook “Face Replace” apps.
  13. Curation – We are hunters and gatherers. And on social sites, we chronicle our activities and interests for ourselves and our networks. Platforms like Pinterest, which just hit 11.7 million unique monthly visitors, and Instagram are so addictive and intuitive because they streamline the gathering to showcase it back to your friends. Visualizing consumer expression about a brand and sharing it with consumers is a powerful engagement, and one that my agency Mullen performed with the recent Brand Bowl 2012.
  14. Celebrity – As much as I would personally love not to include them as a point of engagement with consumers, there’s no denying that celebrities using social personally, or those employed on behalf of a brand to do so, will drive engagement dramatically. I wonder about Lady Gaga’s new Little Monsters social network and how her creation of a niche network for fans will work out. I also wonder if I can get a meat dress for joining.

There are many more ways to engage than I’ve noted here. And interesting work comes out of the mixing of the Social C’s the way a painter blends paint on a canvas. Comment if you think you have one that I missed…hopefully it starts with a C.