Social Objects: Why They Matter?

Jyri Engestrom and Hugh MacLeod already talked enough about them. Let me take their already twisted definition, relate it to an ordinary experience and beat it to the pulp.

My version of “define:social object”

People don’t connect to other people. People connect to certain objects and thanks to those objects, they meet other people connected to the same object. Thus, social object is something that facilitates peer-to—peer connections.

social_object

English, please!

That seems confusing. Let’s show it on an example? Think of a bottle of wine and two people who don’t know each other very well in a room. Both of them start sipping the wine and getting a bit anxious. You know the awkward feeling when you are with someone you don’t know. As the pressure to communicate grows and minutes seem to turn to days, this conversation is bound to happen.

A: *slurrp* “So, what do you think of this wine?”
B: “It’s lovely. Only Chateau Cheval Blanc leaves such a distinctive aftertaste”
A: “Yes, I drank it once in Bordeaux when I was vacationing there a week ago.”
B: “Oh, Bordeaux… We went there with my friend last month. I absolutely love France in this time of year. Did you visit…”

We could go on like that forever but you already get the gist of what I’m trying to say about the social object. It is safe to assume that the bottle of wine is in this case a social object because it connects those two people in the room.

One more situation

Here is another example for you. Imagine a guy with an iPhone playing with a cool app. Some other man sees him and takes a closer look at the app. He falls in love with it on a first sight and starts talking to the guy who is playing with the iPhone. They will be probably talking about the iPhone and apps. On the flip side, if there were no iPhone and no cool apps, those two people would have never connected to each other.

iPhone

In case you are still struggling with what a social object is, let me give you a simple homebrew definition for it.

A social object is a lubricant of human relationships – it helps you connect, share and smoothen the edges in communication.

Yeah, so what?

Why should marketers bother with social objects? Because “social object” is just another name for your brand. By definition, your job is to make your product / brand attractive enough to become remarkable. By fostering conversations around it in the realm of social media, you will increase popularity of your brand / product and we, the consumers, will like it more. Thus, we’ll buy more of it – a marketer’s dream!

So go out there and start creating social objects.

Image credit: lwallenstein, Laughing Squid

About the author: Honza Felt is neither cute nor funny. To compensate for these tragic flaws, he writes about marketing, analytics and communication, so more gullible people think he is smart if nothing else. Well, at least he’s honest…