Include Packets in a Social Media Strategy

These One-to-Few Tools Can Help Brands Reach Passionate, Networked Consumers

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Mat Zucker
Mat Zucker
Social media has become the new viral video, widget, microsite, etc. It's so broad and used so loosely, the term isn't that helpful in actually creating specific work. Brands are mostly watching and just starting to participate in a natural way.

What's a format for brands in social media?

Think about it in terms of the other kinds of formats. There are mass formats (TV, radio, print, out of home); one-to-some formats (targeted online media, podcasts); and of course, one-to-one (direct mail, email, SMS/MMS). But, in light of networked communities around which people are really passionate or intimate, what can brands create or do in terms of what is one-to-few?

Enter "packets."

Packets are brand experiences created expressly for networked groups of people with which to engage. They are useful, they are shareable, they support and sometimes they even advance the brand message. Packets are for friends, colleagues or family in your Facebook, MySpace, Linkedin, Flickr, Slide, community or on your buddy list.

They're not sites. Not ads. Not a usergroup. But they could be:
  • Applications created by a brand. Look on Facebook for examples, such as TripAdvisor's Where Have You Been application.
  • Games for you and a buddy, or a group, to play simultaneously or back-and-forth. A few good examples include Scramble, Scrabulous -- good for busy folks, or MyWord, which my mom has been playing by email with a friend for over a decade.
  • Topical conversations sponsored by the brand (not new, but sort of a packet).
  • Shareable content or kits from the brand -- gifts, articles you can discuss, toys to play with.
  • A platform for your circle to use, such as a gallery, blog, playlist or competitive benchmarking of your IQ vs. that of your friends.

Incidentally, a viral video may get passed around among a circle, but it's not necessarily a packet. It was, after all, created for a broader audience. To be a packet, you've got to be targeted to a certain kind of group or behavior or attitude, not just a casual shot in the dark.

Where to start with packets:
  1. Start with the behavioral and attitudinal insights you should be starting with anyway.
  2. Consider how your brand can help meet a real need or real behavior by a small or large intimate group.
  3. If appropriate, specify "packets" instead of just social media in your creative brief to teams.
  4. Assert some ideas for packets that your brand can best do.
  5. Think out the interactions (where and how it might best live) and perhaps the editorial strategy for how it could sustain itself.
  6. Propose how to measure your impact (analytics types: help!).

That's the spiel -- so whaddya think? And for the converted, do you have good examples of some in market?
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