Lee Odden

ad:tech SF – Social Media & The New Laws of Creativity with Brian Solis

Brian Solis

After a great opening keynote presentation by Arianna Huffington, I was drawn into the nearby speaker ready room and ran into the always inspiring Brian Solis. Brian’s Marketing Masters track at ad:tech San Francisco was on my list for live blogging and as always, he shared a great mix of insights and inspiration about business on the social web.

I haven’t live blogged in a while, so forgive the rough edges 🙂

How do we improve the game for social media in business?

Why have people begun to hate the term “social media”? It’s about what social media is not. Social media is neither one to many marketing or many to many. It’s about 1+1=many.

Social media is less about the technology and more about the sociology. It’s the idea of real people connected to real people. It’s not about collecting fans, friends and followers but real engagement. You are at the center of your own universe and define who you connect & interact with. That’s the “egosystem“.

We are no longer competing for the future but for the moment. It’s about real-time and we’re competing for relevance. The future of brand equity isn’t about what you say about yourself, but what others say about you. Brand equity is the culmination of the experiences we share.

Consumers will decide brand equity not by what a company says on its website, but what others say about that brand on the social web. The future of media is through shared experiences. If brands don’t engage their customers (through the social web) what are consumers left to say?

Most social media marketing is superficial – people are avatars. Contests to gain friends, fans & followers are not engagement. We have to stop looking at people as a pair of eyeballs and start thinking about creating experiences. We’re after an audience of an audience with audiences.

It’s not content, but context that’s King. They way brands are approaching social media isn’t necessarily what customers want from those brands via the social web. Find out: Ask customers what they want from the brand through social media channels.

Companies need to design social experiences that result in tangible outcomes and value for customers. Customers will break up with brands who do not deliver value now and over time. “Like” is not the objective.

[Exact Target & CoTweet study on why consumers disconnect from brands on the social web]

It turns out that obtaining tangible value is the top reason consumers connect with brands on the social web. So it’s not about “earning” the like or follow, but delivering value as part of an ongoing engagement effort.

The key to brand and consumer engagement on the social web is for brands to design meaningful social experiences that turn into tangible value for customers. 5 I’s of social marketing: Influence, Integration, Ideation, Insight, Intelligence. Instead of brands chasing influencers, they become social influencers.

Brands need to have a plan – after you attract a customer as a fan, what do you want them to do? How can you influence behaviors and outcomes?

How do you enter the consumer trust zone? Either by providing information, experiences or through another connected consumer. Once you gain trust, the doors are open for engagement. Engagement is defined by the result of the outcomes from shared experiences.

Social objects are the future of marketing and help transmit the brand story and influence outcomes.

If you are competing for the moment, how do you keep your program valuable and “on”. Once you have a hit, keep it going. Move from a campaign perspective to continuum. Example, Old Spice. Great campaign but since it was a campaign, it ended. What if the videos were designed to create an outcome? What if they were structured to be useful and add value over time to keep Old Spice in the conversation beyond the few days of the campaign?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. nice article on social media..more on talk and conversation rather than tech

  2. Your right, Brian is inspiring. Engaging with people one to one is a skill that a lot of people can forget about. We need to listen effectively, be interested and polish up our social skills.

  3. Is this quote Brian’s or Lee’s? “Social media is less about the technology and more about the sociology. It’s the idea of real people connected to real people.” Thanks.

  4. I love the idea of a “like” not being the object, and more about it’s the result of getting the experience right. So much focus is put on “numbers” like tweets, “likes” and digs etc but when companies focus on providing the full experience these activities become natural and sincere actions of our audience, resulting in customer traction.

    Good work on bringing his message home in a clear way.

  5. Interesting how people want “just the right amount” of interaction. For companies with very long sales cycles (like a mortgage company) I wonder what people view as “too much.” I’ll definitely monitor and test this theory, thanks!

  6. Avatar Anonymous says

    good read on social marketing

  7. I think few understand Social Media and therefore are confused by it. Thus if people don’t understand it they will shy away from it or bad mouth it. Those who understand social media and the power it brings will definitely be the winners, in the future!

  8. Social Media is the key source of marketing today.

  9. For a lot of businesses looking into social media, there’s a lot of contradictory literature. While some will claim the brands should never get too personal with FB users or Twitter followers, others encourage the opposite. The same goes for “just the right amount” of interaction, which remains a gray area.

    • First hand experience will inform brands on level of engagement and personalization. Sticking to pre-forecast numbers doesn’t allow for adaptation.

  10. You nailed it with the campaign strategy wearing out vs. enduring evergreen content winning the long race.

    I think you need both though. A mixture of 80/20 – 80% value added content and 20% interesting, topical, entertaining stuff. This makes sure that you edu-tain which will keep people with you much longer than if you only served as a wikipedia.

    I don’t know for sure, but my guess is that people spend far more time on YouTube than they do on Wikipedia.

    Yes people want solutions but in their minds “Dancing With The Stars” is a solution to boredom so if you can make the experience with your site entertaining and informative, you get the best of both worlds.

    • Agreed – both are essential, how else will a brand communicate it’s key principles and value? Having the right talent in content creation makes it a lot less ominous and far more effective.

  11. I think we are all confused by the “new” world of social media and how to get our arms around it. For me one I am learning a whole new world of it, and personally I think it is confusing. How we interact with our customers with out “overselling” is truly the key I believe! Of course I could be wrong. 🙂

  12. I agree that social media is about connections and not the technology. I can see shortly around the corner, a new technology is eventually going to replace Facebook or Twitter and still allow people to connect with each other in real time and forge relationships “for the moment” as you stated.