It’s time to socialize the creative brief

It’s time to socialize the creative brief
I love the simplicity of a great creative brief: a sharply defined objective, a key consumer insight and a strategic idea that services them both. Creative briefs force marketers to commit to a single idea, and really good ones significantly increase the chances that the work developed will actually drive the business/brand objectives.  But after writing them (my agency days) reacting to them (my client days) and now thinking about them from a social perspective (my Facebook days), I’m convinced it’s time to add a little more nuance to the brief. Today there is room for two key insights, an engagement insight and a social insight. When you start off with both of these as the core to your strategy, you’ll be equipped to unlock huge potential in the increasingly connected world your consumers live in.

What is an engagement insight?
Engagement insights are the insights that marketers already spend a lot of time developing for their marketing strategies.  It’s the “Why do I care?” component – the connection between the brand and the person receiving the message.  It’s that nugget we look for that exposes a unique way to approach the idea, and this insight is usually based on the relationship the consumer has with the category or the brand.

What’s a social insight?
If the engagement insight is centered on the connection between a person and a brand, the social insight is centered on the relationships between consumers of that brand and their friends/family. Here the question is “Why would I share?” Social insights are the motivations that live underneath people’s desire to share an experience, a perspective, a memory or a passion.  It is these exchanges that shape our relationships. They are also a big part of how the world sees us. And it is from these two areas – belonging and identity – where we’ve seen some of the best social insights come.

Camaraderie, friendship and love are all part of belonging. It’s that feeling of being part of something bigger than just yourself.  It’s the opposite of alone. It’s about connection, and it’s a foundational piece of Facebook’s value proposition. The social insight is a reflection of why a person is connected to the friends that they are connected to. With brand experiences that are built upon these relationship insights, the desire to share is natural.  But not all “belonging” needs to look and feel the same.  That’s where the insight work comes into play.  What are the unique belonging insights for your target?  How do young guys foster the feelings of belonging vs. say new moms, teenage girls in the U.K., Latinos living in the U.S.?  The brands that can unlock these insights will be best positioned to get to a powerful social insight.

Of course, a big reason why we want to share things with the people we know is to express ourselves. We grow as individuals through expression. Research shows that the number one reason people enjoy Facebook is because they want to curate their identity and showcase their personality to people: they want to be heard. This is what drives people to share their experiences through status updates, check-ins, likes – and some of the best brand experiences.  So what are the shared desires of your consumer target when it comes to identity?  In other words, what do your consumers want to express about themselves that your brand can help facilitate?  Is it about where they are in life?  Is it about something they aspire to be?  Is it a passion, skill set or perspective?  Is it about showing their creativity, intelligence, fashion savvy or humor?  Or is it something else?

Social by design, from the start
Before you even start thinking about the specific idea, think about why people would share it and what makes them want to do so. Does it strengthen relationships, or communicate something meaningful about yourself? Think about how somebody can become a catalyst for change throughout his or her network.  If you think about that early on, there's a much better chance sharing will be at the core of the campaign in an essential and exciting way. Begin by asking these questions and the idea and the mechanics will take shape from there.

Many of these insights are probably already bubbling throughout your brand teams’ thinking.  In these cases, it’s simply recognizing and using them to inspire everything from the overarching idea all the way to the specific design and execution. 

This is not about changing the way you get to a powerful brand idea.  It’s about extending that idea through the network of people who would care about it.  Marketers spend massive amounts of money bringing an idea to life and exposing it to their target with the hopes of influencing them.  But if you could build it in a more social way that gets people to share it – why wouldn’t you?  The idea strengthens through these human exchanges (word of mouth) and your incremental investment can return exponential value.  

And the simplest way to start doing this is by making that little change to the creative brief, in other words, asking why they would care, and why they would share. 

Tom Brown is Head of Global Customer Marketing for North America at Facebook, where his team’s mission is to build transformative social ideas for top brand marketers.

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