Brian Solis, the famous social media author, coined the term ‘The Egosystem’ a few years ago. Social media is a dance of ego’s looking for recognition.
Or, to quote an even more famous figure (Andy Wharol): ‘In the future, everybody will get 15 minutes of fame’. The future is now. This quest for fame by anonymous people can even be shorter: having a tweet appearing for a few seconds on a TV screen is a kind of fame on its own. Social TV has made this a reality. As the tweets appear, people feel recognized, engaging even further, and prompting some of the passive to engage too in social media.
But recognition can go in even smaller bites: a retweet or reply by a celebrity or a brand you like (or even by another, as anonymous, twitter follower), a certain number of likes on a Facebook post, the sharing of a video that get ‘reshared’ a certain number of times (based on your age & ambition, I let you decide what ‘certain’ means for you).
But isn’t what a lot of human behavior is about ?
In the Maslow pyramid, the need for recognition is pretty central, as part of ‘self-esteem’ (after physiological, safety & ‘love’ drivers). It drives some many human behaviors that it is pervasive across almost every decision we make, every work we do, every action we undertake, even our leisures. Let’s think about it. Imagine you get the greatest job in you can think of (in terms of salary & enjoyment), but every day, at the end of day, someone comes & actually destroys (or somehow ‘undoes’) what you’ve achieved during the day. Without a word. How would you feel? After how much time would you quit ? A few people would stand that test. Because we all need to know that what we do is recognized, in some shape or form. We might call it ‘useful’, but the true significance of ‘useful’, for us human beings, is that it gets actually recognized.
Yet, the paradox is: how little have marketers played on this, so far. How many actually use that need ? You find some participatory marketing campaigns (such as Lay’s , ‘Make your own flavor’), or certain brands that showcase specific members of their community through interviews or some of their comments.
While we value ‘dialogue’ (which is an important foundation to put in place), recognition goes beyond that because while dialogue has a beginning and an end (when all questions, fears & doubts are addressed), the need for recognition is a never ending driver, always hungry for more.
A marketer might say: ‘I cannot recognize every single consumer of my brand, right?’. Actually, this is wrong. There is a great byproduct of the recognition of a member, it’s the recognition of the ‘Community’ – of all people that feel close (by interest or friendliness) to the person actually recognized. When someone we value or we identify to is recognized, we get part of the ‘feel good’ that this other person has. There are nuances (e.g., jealousy might emerge too, or an enhanced sense of competition, which is not bad), but overall the community value the recognition of its members in general, by association.
So, it’s not that you need to give this recognition to everyone, but to a few, and often.
You can start by retweeting, or simply by republishing selected social posts on your Website, or other screens. You can showcase people by visiting them & blogging about them. The satisfaction of recognition creates a larger appeal to disengaged people, who will engage, growing the virtuous circle you are building for your brands. Because in today’s world where ‘Push’ is not enough, marketers need to grow that circle of believers & fans, through engagement. Recognition is a fundamental driver to help marketers to get there.