Archives for posts with tag: social objects

Mark writes about this video he posted on Vimeo:

“On an unseasonably warm November night in Manhattan on our way to get ice cream, we stumbled upon what appeared to be a vintage shop, brightly lit display window and all. As we began to walk in, a man sitting out front warned us that we were welcome to explore, but nothing inside was for sale. Our interests piqued, we began to browse through the collections the man out front had built throughout his life. This is a story of a man and his home.”

An apartment as a social object. He created an environment that connects him with the world because people want to talk with him about it. As I wrote in my blog post ‘Social Objects are the future of participatory media’:

What are social objects?

Social objects are the reason why people socialize. We’re social animals but we need to find a common ground to communicate with each other. That common ground is the social objects.

Let’s say you’re at a party, you are shy and feel completely lost. You are not going to approach a stranger with “I really love Wilco’s new album and I’m reading Jonathan Franzen’s latest book. So fascinating.” The other person will call 911 and hope you’ll end up in a mental institution. In the good old smoking days, your first conversation revolved around the brand of cigarettes both of you are smoking. (Remember the days when you sat in a smoky bar, your social object “cigarette box with logo” right in front of you communicating to the world some part of your personality?) Now, we are focusing on phones, apps, drinks or tattoos. Some social object that connects me with you.

Come to find out that social objects are not only the future of advertising. They are also the future of human connection and interaction.


On Monday somebody will ask: “Does any of these commercials sell product?” or “Did anyone rush out to buy this product when they saw the commercial?”

They are asking the wrong question

Super Bowl ads are not really about selling. They are about creating some funky creative that spreads. That people will talk about on Monday, that people will share through their networks. It’s the one time of the year where people are waiting for ads, asking for them. People want to be entertained, not to be sold to. We’re watching because these commercials are social objects, ideas we want to share with our world.

Does it work?

Depends on who you ask. Ask agencies and advertising pundits, they will tell you it works really well. Ask the CFO, you might get a different answer. I’m somewhere in the middle. I love some of the creativity that’s often missing the remaining 364 days. But I wonder if we don’t make too much out of it, and if all this effort is really worth it. The one thing I know is that Super Bowl ads show that storytelling works. It doesn’t say anything about the value of advertising.

P.S.: The agency of the Kia commercial shot five minutes of super-slo-mo reference footage of Adriana ima waving the flag. They slowed it down to 1/60 speed, creating a 5 hour movie. Brilliant. At least, that’s what more than 200,000 visitors thought.

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What is Instagram? A social network? An app? A community? Sure.

Actually, Instagram is a site built around a social object that connects people with shared interests. In Instagram’s case, it’s the opportunity for people to shoot mediocre pictures and make them look beautiful. On music sites like Spotify or Turntable.fm it’s a song or an artist. On GetGlue, it’s a TV show or a movie.

Facebook has such a huge audience because it allows people to connect over various social objects: Pictures, shared passions, music, video, books – almost anything that defines you as a human being.

Products can be social objects: iPhone, your new car, interesting clothing, a bracelet, the wedding ring.

What are social objects?

Social objects are the reason why people socialize. We’re social animals but we need to find a common ground to communicate with each other. That common ground is the social object.

Let’s say you’re at a party, you are shy and feel completely lost. You are not going to approach a stranger with “I really love Wilco’s new album and I’m reading Jonathan Franzen’s latest book. So fascinating.” The other person will call 911 and hope you’ll end up in a mental institution. In the good old smoking days, your first conversation revolved around the brand of cigarettes both of you are smoking. (Remember the days when you sat in a smoky bar, your social object “cigarette box with logo” right in front of you communicating to the world some part of your personality?) Now, we are focusing on phones, drinks or tattoos. Some social object that connects me with you.

Your product needs to be a social object. Or pack it in.

No worries, I’m not going to talk about Apple, Zappos, Ferrari or some other amazing brands.

No, let’s talk about German turkey sausages.

If you ever come to Los Angeles, don’t bother with Hollywood or the beaches. Head out to Alpine Village, a pathetic replica of a German village. Go to the market and buy packs and packs of turkey sausage. The best sausage you’ll ever eat. 200 calories less than a beef sausage. Perfectly spiced. Highly recommended to put the sausage on the BBQ, the fat will just disappear and will leave you with the perfect sausage. Add red cabbage, dumplings and a beer. Heaven.

I’m geeking out on turkey sausage.

The sausage is a social object. I’ve talked to many people for hours about that sausage. Just like you might have talked hours about wine, an airline experience,  Yankees, amazing service, your barefoot running shoes – whatever. We all are geeking out on objects: I’ve overheard discussions about laundry detergent, toilet paper and shoe laces. Everything can be a social object.

If you feel your product can’t be a social object, drop me a line. I guarantee you it is already. (If it’s not, we’ll look together for a new job for you.)

Stop creating messages. Start creating social objects.

We’ve heard it all before: the Internet changed everything, the customer is in control, it’s about connections, engagement, blah blah blah.

Here’s the one fundamental change: Advertising used to be about creating messages. Advertising in the 21st century is about creating social objects.

Why?

Because social objects are the building stones of the Internet. Not Facebook. Not Twitter. These platforms only exist because people want to have conversations about social objects. In the best-case scenario, they’re woven into your product/service.

Some have to work harder and develop social objects surrounding the product/service. That’s where most brands get it wrong: They’re trying to have conversations with people about their product. Yawn.

Your job is to develop a social object people want to talk about. Once they start talking, get out of the way.