Mr Social says... Value your content

Brands need to offer something of worth, says Mr Social, aka Huib van Bockel, former head of marketing at Red Bull, author of The Social Brand and founder of natural energy drink Tenzing.

Huib van Bockel is the author of The Social Brand and founder of natural energy drink Tenzing
Huib van Bockel is the author of The Social Brand and founder of natural energy drink Tenzing
It’s clear to all of us: a new dawn has arrived. Within a single decade, the media landscape has fundamentally changed, and with it the way people interact with each other and brands. Social media has emerged from its infancy, but have we, the brands and businesses, fundamentally changed our behaviour?

Rarely. Most of us simply use our entrenched marketing methods to try to shoehorn the same old messages into an ever-expanding variety of (social) media outlets. People don’t seek out those messages - they have to endure them.

Old-fashioned marketing is a form of talking, but in this social era the only way to build a relationship between your brand and the people you care about is to give them something truly worthwhile that they will discover and share. 

In other words, you should not strive to be on social media, you should strive to be social. In my book, The Social Brand, I introduced the Brand Bank Account concept: a tool to enable brands to discover the many possibilities at their disposal to give something of value to people, making deposits rather than withdrawals. 

And when it comes to social media, ask yourself: what is your brand doing there? Offering something of value? Inspiring people? Engaging with the people you care about? Or is it one of the channels you use to force your message onto consumers?

So how can we be social? How do we give people something of value? That starts with shifting our behaviour. We should change the very first question we ask ourselves. Instead of asking: ‘How can we make sure consumers will like us more?’, ‘How can we make them buy us?’ or ‘How can we target them?’, we should turn this around. We should ask: ‘What can we do for the people who are important to us?’ ‘How can we give them something they will truly appreciate, some- thing they will want to see and engage with, something that they do not want to block, but instead seek out and share with others?’

This will not only make sure that our messages are heard, but in my opinion it is the only proper way to build loyalty.

It’s not because I am writing this piece for Event that I will blow the trumpet for events, but for me an event is genuinely one of the best and most engaging ways to give. The two buzzwords right now (and which have been so for a while) are ‘content’ and ‘social media’. Both, in my opinion, are not best used as standalones but as tools to capture and share something you have done. Like an event. 

During my whole career I have seen the power of, and loved nothing more than, putting on events. With my first job at Unilever it was putting on the Unox New Year’s Dive. Organised by Holland’s biggest food brand, Unox, it was probably that country’s most famous event, where tens of thousands would jump into the ice-cold water to celebrate the new year. During my second job at MTV, the MTV Awards was my absolute high point. And at Red Bull it was events such as the Air Race in Ascot, Revolutions in Sound in the London Eye or Culture Clash in Wembley Arena.

However, there were also many events that are much smaller, but no less effective. And what did they all result in? Heaps of social media. Most of the ones I mentioned were trending in one or more countries on the days leading up to the event and on event day itself. Not because we were sharing details about them – which we obviously were – but because everybody who was there (or wanted to be there) was talking about them on social media.

So, as I said at the beginning, the key is not just to be on social media, but to be social. Do something, like an event, that people will love. That is social. And the beauty of it is, you don’t even have to push it on social media. They will do it for you... 

More: Mr Social on the popularity of Instagram and how to use it

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