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Is Social Media Driven by the Cool Factor?

Is Social Media Driven by the Cool Factor?

Social Media Cool

In order for social media to work, plain ol’ people need to latch on to a story and spread it to a group of plain ol’ people… and then they spread that storyto their network of people…and so on and so on.  Many stories cease spreading early in the process.  But, some stories go on until the story has been relayed millions of times.  The mechanism is pretty simply.  The magic lies at the core.

The core question: Why do people want to spread these stories?

My answer:  They want to be cool, important, interesting and/or helpful.


Graham Robertson at Beloved Brands claims that most brand leaders don’t get social media.  They just don’t understand it. 

For generations, they talked AT the consumer, but now they have to talk WITH the consumer.  In the old school, Brand Leaders were trained to try to INTERRUPT the consumer in a busy part of their day and then YELL at them over and over again.  It was all about AWARENESS-PURCHASE-LOYALTY where Awareness leads to conversion to Purchase which then the brand experience leads to Loyalty.  The new school of marketing is all about LOYALTY-AWARENESS-PURCHASE where the most loyal users will be the ones driving Awareness and the influence of the conversion to purchase.  It’s no longer about yelling at strangers on TV.  Instead, you have to engage your most loyal consumers, and they become the medium for reaching new users as they WHISPER advice to their friends.

He goes on to say that the social media machine is fueled by loyal customers (aka ‘loved brands’).   While he makes some important points in this article, much of social media is fueled by people who aren’t customers at all!

We’ve all seen the rocket fuel of viral messaging where people want to be the carrier of interesting, weird, quirky, important, insightful, funny, runny news.  We, the plain ol’ people in the world, are driving social media.  We’re relatively simple creatures.  We want to be the experts, the fonts of knowledge, the pillars of support.  Some might say that social media helps us to meet the self-actualization level in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

More directly…social media is fueled by the fact that it’s cool to be cool.  



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Outspent and with mediocre brand imagery scores, Susan developed a strategic plan that focused on influencers across a broad range of target audiences. This plan maximized the impact of the marketing dollars and resulted in increased brand awareness, retailer placement and sales revenue.

J. RutherfordVice President, Corporate CommunicationsFujifilm Holdings

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