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Social Objects: Setting The Cornerstone of Transformative Online Marketing

The only constant is change. In the foundations and elemental structures that give form to today’s online world, the traditional search-based infrastructure of the Web – little changed since 1995 – is now giving way to a new paradigm of social collaboration and referral. Rather than links or listings, the new coin of the realm is social behavior: what people do, why they do it, and most importantly, what they inspire others to do.

The leading big budget marketers are all noticing the same trends. The online experience is becoming much more distributed. The traditional PC-based web browser is now being supplanted by an army of portable digital media devices: smart phones, netbooks, iPad-like devices, game systems. Internet-enabled HDTV television sets have already been introduced to the market, and likely will become more prevalent in the near future. Everywhere we turn, we see new innovations in Internet portability.

As Internet technologies become more mobile, personalized and seamlessly integrated with everyday life, savvy marketers are no longer chasing search engine positions . Their targets are now simpler, more iconic and more fundamental to experience. They’re chasing social objects and gestures.

Social gestures lay at the root of all human relationships. Simple, iconic, immediately recognizable, a social gesture both communicates values and subtly shapes how people interact and consider one another. A wave, a smile, a salute: in everyday life, these are all social gestures that we use to influence the social dynamics that surround us. These socially meaningful actions are memorable and can inspire love, spur anger or motivate action. Online, the importance of social gestures are being increasingly recognized and valued, most notably in Facebooks “like” gesture, where with a simple and immediate action Facebook users can express their like or dislike for a person, place, idea or brand.

Every major online social network has at its root a simple social gesture. On Twitter, it’s a “tweet”. Blippy uses “purchases”, and Foursquare records “checkins”. Each of these networks depends on this basic unit of social currency to build the foundational structures of online society: social objects.

Social objects are reasons, pools of social attraction, the more complex motivations that draw people together for common purposes. By carefully selecting the right social gestures, and implementing them attractively and with creative ingenuity, the social objects you can build from them can transform how your business captures and leverages online social power.

With the rapidly decentralizing nature of today’s online media, the importance of mastering social gestures and objects extends well beyond a handful of major social media giants. How can your business capitalize on a social gesture-based multimedia strategy?
Keep your gestures simple. The most successful social gestures are simple to understand, make, and appreciate. A powerful social gesture must be so simple that it becomes a subconscious action.

Build on the familiar. The most successful online social gestures are the ones that mirror gestures in real life. Would Facebook have been as successful if their basic social unit had been the “Facebook Opt-In Preference Association”? Probably not. The simple familiarity of communicating one’s preferences – the “like” – makes their social network growth an organic extension of everyday flesh and blood society. Choose a fundamental social gesture, such as a “wave” or “nod”, that works likewise.

Make it their idea. Social gestures are highly personal communication devices, used to extend our own personalities and influences into the world around us. Develop your social gesture strategy to encourage your customers to take their own ideas into the world, and wield your own influence very subtly. Give them the power to lead.

Don’t be boring. Never forget the power of a dynamic, attractive show of sensory wizardry. Imagination is a very powerful agent of change, motivating social movement by delighting the eye and ear while inspiring the heart and mind. Leverage the power of intrigue, curiosity and attraction to give people reasons to take advantage of your services. By propelling social interaction with the power of imaginative digital magic, you can charge your marketing with the high energy enthusiasm that your customers truly want.

Change surrounds us, powerful new technologies rapidly transforming every aspect of modern life as we know it. However, the more things change, the more things stay the same. The future of online society is the simple familiarity of everyday real life. By adapting what we know of basic social psychological dynamics into models of online interaction, innovative marketers are charting that future and laying the foundation for defining it in their favor.

Your mission is to do the same. The only constant truly is change – but the heart of change is the appeal of the familiar. Go forth, capture the familiar and make it your own. Empower your customers to extend their everyday social comforts into their online experience, and they will handsomely reward you for it.

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