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Are You Marketing To Your Social Propellers l RaveTopia

How Well Do You Understand Your Social Propellers?

Sunday is just around the corner. My wife and I decide we want a few friends around for a Sunday lunch.

But who to invite? Here is how the conversation goes …

  • I want to get my old mate from school who I met 30 years ago with his family.
  • But she wants to invite the new friend, she made at our eldest son’s school – feels that the two couples will not get on.
  • So, I suggest we invite my friend from university.
  • She thinks this is a great idea, but again, the two couples will not get on.
  • So, I suggest that invite my mate from university and you invite your friend that you met at work.
  • No, they won’t mix…. this is getting hard. Like trying manage the seating at our wedding.

And so on it goes. We spend the next half an hour trying to work out whom of our social circle will get on with each other and who we will invite for lunch.

Social Blobs versus Social Propellers

You have had the same chat that my wife and I had. I’m just lucky that we can have a civil chat on this topic as it can be quite testy.

(I’m sure there are a few divorces that have ended, because social circles are not compatible).

Yet when we go online, we create this massive social circle. A one size fits all type of circle.

We add all types of relationships to our Facebook profile from school friends, family, co-work, and so on.

Here is a quick test. Just go and look at your Facebook profile as ask yourself:

  • How many people do you actually engage with on a daily or weekly basis?
  • How many people do you trust to share different [not intimate] details with over one broadcast
  • How many comments are light hearted banter that are pretty meaningless
  • Would everyone feel comfortable if you put them all in one room

I could continue with the questions but you can see the obvious answer in this. Your network is made up of different social groups that represent different aspects of your life as shown below.

Marketing to Social Blobs

Yet as marketers and business owners, we set up our marketing strategy with a one size fits all social circle in mind – or a social blob and expect to create earned media.

Just think of MTN, Vodacom and Cell C or the Big Four South African Banks Marketing. Their ad campaigns on TV, print, radio focus on a single idea.

Even the social media from these companies is exactly the same. Twitter has become a rescue tool to ask bad brand reviewers to please DM them so they can discuss their problems in private.

As an example standard twitter account has one account: http://twitter.com/StandardBankGrp, which has to deal with the following social propellers:

  • Large Business owners
  • Medium size business owners
  • Small business owners
  • Pensioners
  • Single moms
  • Single dads
  • The newly employed
  • First time home owner
  • Students
  • And a whole lot in between

Something tells me Standard bank does not really understand their market – or do not care to know their market.

What is important is that you have to understand how each group likes to communicate. You have to understand how they engage with each other within their respective propeller. And your marketing needs to mirror this. This is when you can start creating earned media.

In real life, we do not create one massive social blob. The lunch debate is a very good example of this. We segment our lives according to our experiences and how we want to express ourselves.

We engage with our family, work colleagues; friends we’ve known most of our lives differently.

These smaller social circles show different parts of who we are and each circle has a different level of importance to us. And they don’t mix. They extend out from us in different directions – hence the idea of a propeller.

Understanding Social Propellers

As you know and can see from the example above, your customer very seldom fits into one size fit all segment – yet our marketing tends to do so. Your customers have different social propellers who socialise in very different ways.

As marketers, we need to look at our customer base and map what their social propellers look like. But what is a social propeller?

A social propeller is a map that outlines our different social networks and breaks our life down into the different ways we express ourselves.

A large part of this post was inspired by Paul Adam’s, who is a user researcher at Google. For more his thoughts on this topic you can find him here at slideshare.com. He research shows that, on average, a person has the following social propeller:

  • A person will have 4 to 6 different key social groups
  • Each group will have between 2 to 10 people in it
  • These groups stay independent of each other
  • Privacy is a really a trust issue – we share personal messages on a one-to-one basis rather than openly
  • The term friend is misleading and we do not consider most people “friends”
  • People within each group have a different weighting and role
  • An influencer is not as powerful as you’d think – influence works both ways – someone has to speak and someone has to listen

How Are You Planning Your Marketing Strategy?

If the above bullet points haven’t changed how you run your marketing strategy, then I have failed to convey the importance of knowing your target market’s social propeller. It is easy to fob this thinking off as a new marketing idea or a social media thought process.

Yet how we do our marketing is standing at a cross roads and this really does have a far deeper implication for you. This is highlighted in my post that your marketing return on investment is only about a 1.5% return and the Five New Rule of Marketing.

Perhaps the following points will pull this into a deeper perspective for you:

  • What you say about your brand is irrelevant today. Your customer — or potential customer — is going to ask a third party for advice. This may be a very close friend, an acquaintance or a review on yelp.com
  • The degree of trust given will determine the action. Your customers no longer trust traditional advertising. They know you have a bias and that you will put yourself in the best way possible. Just because a chocolate has a healthy ingredient or nutrient does not make it healthy.
  • People are happy to have others influence their decisions. We face so many choices every day and if we can outsource some of these to a reliable, trustworthy third-party, we will. Heck, just choosing a breakfast cereal can be a major decision, given how many choices you have.
  • Your choices are based on past experience, both yours and other reliable, trustworthy third parties.
  • How we want other people to perceive us will determine the choices we make.

A Social Propeller Marketing Strategy

The above points, give you a clear guideline what you need to be doing to improve the effectiveness of your next marketing or communication strategy. Here are some key things that you need to consider:

  • Break down the different social propellers in your business. These include your clients, staff, suppliers, other stake holders, management team and any other person or group of persons connected with your business.
  • Breakdown each of these groups into a new social propeller structure
  • Understand how each of these different subgroups socialise and interact and what marketing will motivate them.
  • Start Fansourcing. Find your fans, find out how they talk and then empower them
  • Understand the experience you are creating and what needs to be changed to improve the quality of this experience
  • Design your traditional and social media strategies around this platform

Good luck with this – and I have embedded Paul Adams presentation below for more insights. And, please if you know of any companies doing this well please drop us a note below.

About Michael Cowen

Michael Cowen is the founder of RaveTopia. We are a Word of Mouth Marketing Agency thats helps people love what you say and do, and rave about you. Michael is a Certified Net Promoter Associate with a background in trade marketing and organisational culture. You can connect with Michael on Twitter, or link up on LinkedIn.