“Experiential social media” as a term first emerged in 2009 and never really achieved adoption. I started using it in a new way in 2013 to denote intense focus on the social behavior and interaction in digital social venues—on people’s experiences. Behavior is very complex, in digital social venues and elsewhere, so we need a distinct discipline to advance the practices of identifying and analyzing it. Since experiential social media focuses on interacting to build trust, relationship and preference, practicing it well is the key to most of social media’s business potential.
Experiential social media is not necessarily a business application of social media. It aims to understand people and help them have better experiences by getting what they want, which has immense business benefits. People are constantly striving to reach their goals, online and offline, and experiential social media practitioners are dedicated to empowering people to have more rewarding experiences.
“Experiential social media practitioners use ethnographic research methods to understand stakeholders’ behavior. Then they interact with them in digital public with unusual sensitivity and helpfulness, increasing intimacy between a service provider and its stakeholders.”
Experiential Social Media Key Practices
- We study the behavior of the most important people to the organization (“stakeholders”) using ethnographic research. We decode their behavior, its social context, and its motivations. Commercial enterprises often focus on the most profitable customers, business partners, or investors. Nonprofits give their attention to donors, volunteers, and partners. Governments usually focus on voters and other branches of government.
- We identify and analyze two levels of stakeholder behavior in digital social venues: explicit actions (building a patio to have cookouts) and implicit emotional desires that motivate actions (being more popular and increasing social standing).
- Based on behavioral analyses, we interact with stakeholders to help them have better experiences. Generate and study digital social data to assess the results of our interactions with stakeholders. In some cases, conduct analog experiential research.
- When practicing experiential social media, we study stakeholders’ behavior and our behavior interacting with them, so we can iteratively improve our value to them. We apply quantitative trust-based metrics to measure and track the quality of relationships between stakeholders and organizations.
- Based on our interactions with stakeholders and their interactions with each other, we constantly enhance our understanding, value to stakeholders, and effectiveness at empowering them.
- Increasing trust activates the Trust-Business Chain Reaction.
Experiential Social Media and Social Business
Social business as described in this site uses experiential social media to strengthen business relationships and business outcomes (profit, mission or some other). It also uses social media marketing as a supporting discipline. Experiential social media and social media marketing are “ingredients” of social business. The coefficients vary with each situation, but we emphasize experiential because it’s effective at developing trust and preference, which drive profit in a business context. For an in-depth discussions of their similarities and differences, see Using Social Media and Social Business Together to Evolve experience.
Social business = (3) experiential social media + (1) social media marketing
Drive to Trust and the Social Channel App
Drive to Trust is a new opportunity to develop trust and profit at scale, using experiential social media. Commercial, nonprofit and government firms will be the first among their peers to win the hearts, business and support from their customers, constituents, employees, partners and communities in this limited CSRA initiative. They learn how to interact with people in the very human ways that people crave. Since employees trust them more, they have much higher energy and productivity, while customers have experiences that they love to talk about. Drive to Trust is the express lane to employee engagement and customer experience. Some of these pioneers will change the rules of their markets. Learn more here.
You can learn how to practice experiential social media, social media marketing and social business, step by step, in my new “book.” I started writing it as a book, but I realized that I could serve my readers better by making it an app, so I did. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it because I incorporated experiential design principles into it, and it will probably be a different “reading” experience for you. I made it interactive, so you can learn faster. Even though you can read it as a book, most readers will want to take shortcuts, so I’ve designed “clickstreams” that select short readings and apply them to common social media situations. The Social Channel App beta is available now. Learn more about its features and ongoing development at its main presence on Google+, where it also has a community in which you can ask questions and discuss business challenges that you can address with social business. The Social Channel App is also on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Learn more here.
How it Works: Experiential Social Media Case Study
In 2015, CSRA led an experiential case study for a major consumer electronics company in which we tested the techniques summarized here and presented in detail in the Social Channel App. The case study compares three types of social media:
- Conventional brand-focused and content-based social media.
- Experiential stakeholder-focused and content based social media.
- Experiential stakeholder-focused and interaction-based social media.
I think you’ll find the results extremely interesting. I certainly do!
Experiential Social Media Thought Leadership
Here are my latest reflections on and guidance for practicing experiential social media, where I’ve been pioneering since 2006: