Play to the Ego

awesomeI’m sure you’ve figured it out by now, but social media is tailor-made to feed that big ol’ monster in all of us called “ego.”

Think about it. Look where I am. Listen to what I’m doing. Look at this cool hotel where I’m staying. Here’s a picture of my food. I’m hanging out with these people (even though we’re all looking down at our phones right now). Look at this great picture of me. I’m shopping at a store now. Check out this thing I wrote. I’m thinking about buying this. I bought this. I’m sharing information with you that I found out about first. I just got upgraded. I’m at the gym. I’m at a concert. Buy my book. Come see me speak. Let me impart wisdom on you. Check out what I’m listening to. I’m planning a trip. I’m on a trip. I just came back from a trip. I just met with very important clients at a really big company. Look at what a great husband/mom/wife/dad/brother/sister/uncle/aunt/or other relative I am.

It’s endless.

The social app/platform developers caught on early – whether they realized it or not – to this need for humans to feel good about themselves and have others like them. Foursquare. Instagram. Twitter. Path. Spotify. Vine. And hundreds of other apps that allow you to share every single pixel of your life every single moment of the day to anybody who will look or listen. And so we do. We share.

In presentations, I often say that “everybody wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves. It’s hard-wired into our DNA.” Which I still stand by. But also hard-wired into our DNA is the need to feel loved and accepted (actually, the two are intertwined). Just ask Maslow. So it only makes since that when we’re out there trying to engage customers on social media, we should play to their ego.

Some smart folks wrote a paper in 2011 entitled “On Brands and Word of Mouth,” which Geno Church and John Moore do a brilliant job of breaking down in this presentation. The basic premise is that the top three reasons people share content online is (in this order): ego, information and emotion. Or, EGO, INFO and EMO as I like to think of it. So when I’m working to build a program or even create one piece of content, I think about it in these three buckets. Will my efforts fill one (or more) of those buckets? It should if I want it to spread.

But for the purpose of this post, we’re taking a look at ego and how it relates to content. So, to put it simply, we should create pieces of content that feed customer’s egos. Because it will be shared. It’s why the “Fan of the week” posts on brand’s Facebook pages are so popular. It’s why when a brand or outlet picks up your blog post on Twitter or Facebook, you retweet/post it to your wall. It’s why when a brand engages with a customer, they tell all their friends and followers (online and off) about it and the “special” attention they received.

Yes, most brands to a really great job on social media talking about themselves. And to an extent – as it goes with advertising – it’s needed to inform customers and potential customers. But – and that’s a BIG but – we need to turn that spotlight on our customers on a regular basis. So instead of “Hey, look at me!” It’s “Hey, look at this customer of ours and how cool they are!” Which, of course, will give them something to yell, “Hey, look at me!” And the word of mouth roars on.

So the next time you’re in a meeting to develop content for your social channels, make sure you fill the ego bucket first. Then watch what happens.

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