SX sells - championing social experience over social media

When it comes to social the real focus should be on the experience, writes Matt Holt, associate director, digital strategy at OgilvyOne UK

Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, MySpace, Vine, Facebook, Path, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Tumblr, Flickr, Pinstagram, Instabook, Facespace... aargh, it’s death by social media.

As marketers well know, it’s all too easy to get overwhelmed by social media. The funky language, the millions of people using it, the whizzy functionality - oh the shininess! And there’s the rub. The need to "do something shiny" can all too easily trump the admittedly duller but grossly more important need to "create something valuable for my audience that in turn creates value for my business".

So how do marketers guard against getting lost in the media? Well, the answer is to focus on social experience and not social media - I have in the past actually gone so far as to ban my teams from describing themselves as "social media experts". That might sound perverse given the experience will play out within social media but it’s absolutely vital if you’re going to create valuable customer experiences that create business value.

It’s all about starting points. If you start by asking the question "how do we create an experience on Facebook?" you’re obviously limiting the experience to Facebook and those users. If you start by asking the question "how do we create a valuable social experience?" then the sky’s the limit, Red Bull’s Stratos being an awesome example.

In other words, create the ideal customer experience and the media picks itself.

Social Experience versus Social Interface

To push this further, we can steal Ed Lea’s awesome User Experience (UX) versus User Interface (UI) cereal analogy. Fed up of people confusing UX and UI, Ed created the neat analogy of eating cereal; the act of eating cereal is the User Experience, the spoon is the User Interface.

The way to get the most out of social is to think in the same way.

The social equivalent of User Experience (UX), ie, the eating of the cereal, is Social Experience - SX.

The social equivalent of User Interface (UI), ie, the spoon, is Social Media – or rather Social Interface - SI.

If we think of social in this way and create the distinction between SX and SI then I firmly believe that it’s much easier for marketers to create awesome social experiences that create customer value.

Think real world – the best experiences touch people in the real world and move them to spread the word using digital and social media.

Here are my SX (Social Experience) principles:

1. Think real world – the best experiences touch people in the real world and move them to spread the word using digital and social media.
2. Think pre, during and post – every experience, small or large, can be exploited fully by looking at it through the lens of before, during and after. This is what creates ongoing conversation.
3. Ignore the social media – don’t go near it at this stage; create the desired social experience and the social media picks itself.

And here are my SI (Social Interface) principles:

1. Know your social interface – know the ins and outs of how people use it, why they use it, what role could the interface play in your brand’s social experience.
2. Know where your target audience is – know which interfaces your audience is using and where your brand could create value.
3. Know it will change and be prepared to react – social changes quickly and constantly so put the systems in place to listen and respond accordingly.

So next time you’re thinking about how best to use social media, don’t think of social media… think SX and SI.

Creating valuable experiences for people and providing the means for them to share those experiences is what creates customer value and preference... SX sells.

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