"Humans have been sharing resources and knowledge since they first banded together in prehistoric times, even before there was language."
Bryan Kramer, who also wrote the bestselling book, There is no B2B or B2C: It’s Human to Human H2H, has followed up with a book about how and why we share information, experiences, and emotions in Shareology: How Sharing is Powering the Human Economy. Kramer focuses on what makes people share, and relates it to how you can make your brand human, shareable, and valuable to your audience.
I’ve worked in the social media space for several years. My team and I never had formal training in social posts (does such a thing really exist?) so we learned a lot as we went. Early on we discovered that the posts where people could easily make a connection were the most popular. One of our early popular posts was a dog with floppy ears running through a field. Our business had nothing to do with dogs, but it made people smile and laugh. There was a human connection.
In Shareology, Kramer took that notion of making a connection to a new level for me. He helped me to grasp some of the ideas that I already knew about online sharing and really begin to strategize with them.
Brands are people, too
"Giving value, sharing stories and information, being the go-to resource, helping people solve their problems--all of these human activities make us more attractive as brands to the people we want to employ and do business with."
I always knew that a brand needs to add value, at times entertain, and avoid being too stiff with corporate speak. One thing that Shareology references several times is the rule of thirds. You need to have one third news, one third ideas, and one third curated content for good balance in your sharing. Moving forward, I’ll use the rule of thirds to further develop online branding, marketing, and sharing strategies. The rule of thirds will help to create variety in the ways that we look to add value.
Kramer also talks about letting people see “behind the curtain” to see the real people behind the brand. I’m really excited to roll out a social sharing strategy that highlights both clients and agents to make the brand more human.
Lend a helping hand
"The main goal of active listening on social channels shouldn’t be to sell someone something, but to help someone get something done."
It’s absolutely necessary for all companies to be online. I think that one of the most challenging parts of taking a company online, or improving a company’s online presence, is to make sure you aren’t selling all the time. I love, love, love the idea of taking selling out of the equation and focusing on helping. If we share this article, this video, this meme, etc., how does it help our audience?
The purpose of online channels, branding, signage… everything is to create more business. So it seems counterintuitive to hop online and NOT focus on driving sales. But isn’t your business helping customers fill some need? Aren’t you ultimately in business to help people!? By striving to help your audience learn more or do more, you will in fact build a loyal following with your product. And your company values will shine through.
It’s all about context
"Understanding context means understanding all factors that influence an experience, which also includes how people talk about it (and with whom)."
Kramer talks about social listening in terms of focus groups. Market research used to include gathering a relatively small number of people together to get their opinions on a product or service. Now, millions of people can talk about products and services all over the world and we have the ability to “listen” to what they have to say and then develop our online strategy accordingly, almost in real time. Even the simplest searches or social listening tools can give us so much insight into what others are saying about our brands or our industries. And then we can use that information to make our posts better suited to help out our own audiences.
To help us out with creating content in the right context, Kramer briefly goes over The Four Rules of Context from his previous book. (Number 2 is my greatest area of opportunity.) When you are creating content, remember to:
- Think it through. How will what you share contribute to your brand and meet your objectives? Is there is a purpose? Will this detract from your brand or your goals in any way?
- Skip to the last page first. You have to know where you are going in order to lead your audience there. As Kramer says, “comples systems work becuase there’s a beginning and an end point…Complicated systems have one or the other.”
- Slow down. We’re all guilty of posting because we need to. You may have heard the mantra, “done is better than perfect” but I disagree. Slow down and put in the appropriate effort. Otherwise, why bother?
- Get out of your head. It’s so important to think about your content from the perspective of your audience.
As much as I would like to include everything I took from Shareology, it just wasn’t possible. You’ll notice that I wasn’t able to touch on the importance of measuring your social strategy or how to focus on influencers. As far as I’m concerned, those will be part of the second phase of implementing a new social strategy with my new company. Now that I’ve outlined my new strategy, I’d love to hear about yours in the comments below. I hear that it’s human to share and that we should share to help each other. *wink*