Social Marketing: selling your social soul

Gamification. Not only is it not a real word but it’s a misnomer. But it’s a clever misnomer as it tricks you into believing what you’re doing is fun.

According to Wikipedia “Gamification is the integration of game mechanics or game dynamics into a website, service, community, campaign, or application  in order to encourage people to adopt them, or to influence how they are used.”

Earning credits to make you feel good became part of the online environment in the wake of the feel good factor brought on by the rise of social networks like Facebook. Gaining new friends carried with it a form of kudos or social bragging right. Twitter followed suit with followers instead of friends. Then came Foursquare. Foursquare is the local check in application that integrates with Twitter and Facebook to tell your friends where you are and what you are doing. It introduced a badge system and merits.

A listening device

Location based checking in is a vastly underused form of marketing in my opinion. There were several high profile brands that started using social checking in as a form of marketing but it never really took off. As someone who still mundanely continues to use Foursquare without ever really having received any physical benefit from it I am amazed at how businesses haven’t adopted it. Small businesses particularly can use this form of free marketing to their benefit.

It’s a rant for another post, but now there’s something new. Brands are now starting to reward their social media savvy customers in other ways. Creative publishing giant PSFK have recently published a report called The Future of Retail which looks at how brands are starting to realise the potential in their brand advocates. PSFK have coined the term ‘new brand champions‘.

Working in marketing for some time now brand advocates are nothing new to me, however the technology and methodology for identifying them and utilising them has evolved. One of Foursquare’s problems is connecting the individual to the business that they are checking into in real time. We’re not quite at a place where we get rewarded instantly for broadcasting our activity to our friends and followers. Now Tesco have launched their own Share & Earn scheme, where the brand’s Facebook fans earn Clubcard points for sharing products with their friends online. Not only does this tap into an existing mainstream audience (something Foursquare just doesn’t have) but it also uses a vehicle that is widely accepted (the Clubcard).

Not only are companies like Stella & Dot allowing brand advocates to sell its products to friends through websites that they set up themselves, but others like accounting system Sage are allowing advocates to help develop business ideas and technologies.

Finally this technology-driven breaking down of barriers is starting to be win:win i.e. in the consumers favour too. It’s a step (back?) towards the old school trade of one skill for another. Just like we can start to expect our bank to reward us for our social credibility we will soon be able to walk into our local and be rewarded not only virtually but also physically by influencing our friends to come and do the same thing.

Get the full PSFK report here:

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Not in the least bit copyrighted by Tim Aldiss 2012