Maybe you saw the news that Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion. That’s one billion with a “B”. Or for those of us who learn visually — $1,000,000,000. There are a lot of zeros to divide among the 13 Instagram employees. Why is Instagram so valuable?
Debbie Millman is the foremost speaker, educator and writer on the whys and hows of branding, and she really knows her stuff. In a recent presentation to the Dallas Chapter of the AIGA, she tackled the question, “Why is social media popular?” Millman’s answer is that successful brands in the current Information Age guarantee a personal connection. People who use the connective channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Instagram, and LinkedIn for instance) do so because they are able to form emotional and personal connections to others in the same interest group.
It is human nature to collect into groups, and the connective channels perfectly translate relationships into an electronic environment. There are no geographic boundaries and the connections in these groups are usually stronger because of an emotional or personal response which is generally the reason for belonging to the group in the first place. For instance; “I belong to this family, I graduated from this school, watch this television show, eat this yummy snack”, and on and on. Further, membership to some of these groups will never change. How’s that for brand loyalty?
Here are a few question to ponder about your company and connective networks:
- If connections are essential to brands now, how will your company connect with your consumers?
- How will you help your consumers gather into a collective group? Do they share a mutual interest? Do they display a specific emotional response to your product or service?
- How will you turn those connections into engaged brand disciples who share your message with others?
They Told Two Friends . . .
Let’s look at how connective channels work. One person shares an experience online — a phrase, a picture or video. And we’ll guess (conservatively) that four others read that message. Two share the experience with people in their respective circles, and soon, that initial experience has touched an entirely new group of people that you have never met. Think about the number of people you know right now in your circles, and multiply the response. Boom! You have just expanded your reach.
It can be easy to dismiss the connective value companies like Facebook and Twitter offer to the population, especially if you personally don’t participate. And let me say here that you do not have to personally use Facebook, Pintrest, Twitter or Instagram for your company to benefit from the marketing potential. It isn’t required — but find someone who uses them well. Dismissing the connective channels entirely from your company’s marketing plan eliminates generous marketing opportunities. Especially while there isn’t any cost to use them. Yet.
Kevin Bacon Me
Several years ago, the parlor game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon was born on the premise is that every motion picture or actor you can name eventually comes back to Mr. Footloose himself at some point. Wouldn’t it be great if your customers would do the same for your company or product? That is exactly why we brand and market ourselves. Give your consumers an opportunity to connect with your company, products or services and see how far your message will go.