Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I cant stop thinking about 'social currency'

So as per usual in the marketing world we coin new terms and stupid bingo words to try and communicate with each other, in somewhat egotistical manner. Look at me, Im using this cool new word and I am so ahead of the game. I dont know what I am really saying so if I throw in this word people will think I do. Although it does annoy me somewhat, I do unfortunately get involved and I have grabbed onto the word 'social currency' and its meaning in the real world.

I have become some what obsessed with Jamie Oliver's latest Ministry of Food idea and how he uses is love, passion and profession to inspire people to 'pass it on'. I watched the first show whereby he meets a guy who is a miner and never even been into his own kitchen or cooked himself a meal. Jamie showed him one very nice simple thing. Jamie even went with him to work to see what the life of a miner was really like. He showed a keen interest in the guys life. Jamie came out of the mine, saying how hot and tiring it was. He could understood that the guy wouldnt go home and cook after a day like that. He came back a few months later to visit the guy. Who was cooking five nights a week and showed a huge amount of enthusiasm and passion for it. My favourite part was him discussing with Jamie that the had been a change in conversations down the mine. From football to what recipes they had been cooking. That to me is brilliant and a perfect example of creating social currency.

I think the thing I find interesting is how you can make an individual feel special enough to deliver that currency. Jamie ignited an interest with this guy, through bestowing is knowledge and passion with him. He connected with him. He went into his world and tried to really understand him and then helped him to better himself.

I truly believe that Jamie is the master of social currency. He uses what he has to try and drive movements in people's behaviour. He uses his knowledge, passion, celebrity status and media presence to drive change in different things. From helping out kids with fifteen to changing school menus, to making people cook more and better food through a simple idea of pass it on. I think we as brands could learn a lot from this guy. Think about it.

Knowledge + Passion + Interest in our audience+ media presence+ something that will gain interest = social currency

My own personal social currency is random thoughts and information. I sit in the corner of an office and thanks to you all on the web and my general curiosity. I constantly collect random information that I feel I might need at a later stage or that someone I know might need. People have started to catch onto this and come and ask me about stuff all the time. When I help people out, it kind of gives me a sense of social purpose. It makes me feel like I have a role in the greater social group. I dont get anything more from it than the feeling of having a role. I quite like doing this anyway.

So can we do this for brands. I have already started doing it for one out of luck.... it happens to be a pitch Im working on. Could be interesting


windo said...

if jamie is the master of "social currency" then gordon ramsey is the "loan shark"? perhaps. i really dig kitchen nightmares here in the states. caught episodes of the UK version on BBC America a couple times. i think you all have the better end of the stick. great observation, michael. btw, i'm guilty of using those "stupid bingo words" from time to time. something i pick up from the trend spotting agencies that are masters of them.

overall, i think brands can certainly do better at demonstrating true understanding, empathy and walking a "mile in a man's shoes" before attempting to develop a conversation with their customers. perhaps w/better interactive, social media tools, brands can develop closer relationships and understanding of their customers and then really deliver on what we all need/want from advertisers.

mikej said...

I like your thoughts on empathy and walking a mile in their shoes. I think we all go into corporate mode a lot and forget that people only want to have conversations with people that they like or understand.

Like we would in the pub. So why change it when we work

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