People buy feelings, not things- Tony Robbins
People naturally like to share information or opinions with others. It gives them a sense of pride and belonging talking about the places they have been to, the food they ate, the product they acquired and or used, the services they enjoyed and so on. Whether or not they stand to benefit monetarily from a brand, people can actively advocate, recommend and even go as far as defending the brand once they have a strong attachment to it.
The extent to which people share information about a product or brand as part of their everyday social lives at work or at home, digitally or offline is called social currency. Social currency helps companies to create unique brand identities and a sense of community, and by that, a strong affiliation between their customers, consumers and users of their brand.
This whole piece is about how you can build your social currency by getting people to share your brand information, both offline and online. Now let us get down to the brass tacks!
Create insider privileges
Truth be told, everyone likes to be in the circle of people who have privileged information. The idea of being an insider makes them feel important and special. Apart from the joy of having a pride of place among the select few, it also gets them talking about the product or service with an air of importance.
There are two ways to effectively make people feel like insiders: exclusivity and scarcity. Both factors make products and services difficult to obtain and make people assume that it is worth the effort to get them. Exclusivity is about limited accessibility to privileged insider information after meeting certain criteria.
Sometimes, brands leave key decisions in the hands of their customers and consumers, not because they are undecided. They are intentionally trying to involve and engage them and therefore, gain social currency. Let us say a writer or graphic designer puts out three different designs for a book cover and encourages his followers on social media to help him decide on the best cover to use. This exclusive opportunity to be the decider throws the followers into a frenzy of excitement. They feel important and want to brag about it among their peers.
Kunle Afolayan, the iconic Nollywood film maker, was a key note speaker at DayStar Excellence in Leadership Conference, 2016. He gave his audience a sense of importance when he announced that he was going to play a ten minutes exclusive clip from his unreleased movie titled CEO. He actually encouraged them to feel free to give their feedback. The access to this privileged unreleased movie got most of the audience talking with pride. His audience enjoyed exclusivity while he gained social currency; what some persons will call free promotion or advert.
Scarce items are more desirable because people believe that they are either high in demand or limited in production. Some schools and businesses incorporate scarcity as part of their marketing strategy by using a waitlist system. Nigeria for example, recently paid the United States government the sum of $496 million for acquisition of 12 Tucano Fighter Jets to be used by the Nigerian Air Force in the ongoing military operations against the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East. According to The Guardian, the United States will be delivering the 12 super Tucano Fighter Jets and other weapons to Nigeria in the year 2020. The duration of time it will take to deliver the weaponry creates a sense of importance which in turn makes one to feel that the weaponry is special.
Note that there is a line of demarcation between making something difficult to get and completely making it impossible to get. The plan is not to lose or frustrate a prospective customer in the process.
Discover your brand uniqueness and sell it
What is that unique thing that your brand brings to the table? Remarkable things are unusual, extraordinary, and most importantly, worthy of mention. The unique things about your brand engage your consumers and elicit discussions about your brand among their peers. This in turn drives social currency.
Robot Bubble Gum so many years back rolled out an ingenious marketing strategy of inserting remarkable facts under the chewing gum wrappers. The questions are written right side up and the answers down side up, below the questions. I remember while growing up how we looked forward to buying Robot Bubble Gum not just for the sake of chewing, which my mother frowned at, but because of the enlightening opportunity to also chew on the facts.
It was fun, engaging and of course, generated discussions around bubble gum. We could give a leg and an arm for our darling Robot Bubble Gum. The likes of Bunny Bubble Gum and Bazooka Bubble Gum were also remarkably outstanding for this.
Gamify your brand
Game mechanics are the elements and rules that simulate a competitive scenario. The rule-based systems of game play deliver the feelings of excitement and addiction that are found in quality games.
What readily comes to mind is what mobile telecoms are presently doing in the market to persuade old subscribers who left their sim cards to gather dust and cobwebs, to return to using their networks as well as win new subscribers. MTN is currently giving a whopping twenty times value for any recharge to their one-month-and-above-returnee-prodigal subscribers. The temptation is to recharge with a huge amount of money since one stands the chance of getting twenty times the value. I mean why settle for so little when you can actually get so much? You spread the news. You want your family and friends to know and take advantage of the offer before it eventually ends.
Indomie Bellefull comedy challenge is another example. Not to forget that this is also the technique music artistes use to generate engagement and discussion on their new musical works. Have you ever come across any musical artiste video where they announced that they will dole out $1000 to anybody who makes the best dance video off their song? Do you think they were just being charitable? No! They understand social currency.