Co-Creation is the Key to Third-Stage Social


In an article published last week, I wrote a few thoughts on where social media strategies may be heading and what the “Third Stage” of social media, originally described by Brandon Evans at FastCompany, might actually look like.

As it was based largely on speculation, we are now returning to discuss some more practical applications for the third stage of social. It is for this reason that I wanted to revisit the developing collaborative aspects of social media with a few practical ways B2B marketers can put co-creation into practice today.

Create Something

For businesses in all industries, creation has become the new imperative for survival. This means more frequent product launches and updates, valuable marketing content, and engaging marketing campaigns. The easiest way for companies to move forward is through creation.

Customers and prospects alike are excited about all this creation (and they should be! You’re working hard to deliver it). However, many companies are keeping their audiences out of the creation process. This is a missed opportunity. Bringing your audience into the creation process will increase engagement, loyalty, ownership, and a sense of community in your audience.

A Quick Example

Although the world of fashion may seem far removed from the B2B world, San Francisco fashion startup Modcloth is employing best-in-class co-creating strategies B2B marketers can learn from. Customers are brought into the buying process and can vote on which pieces the company should start carrying. Each month, the company also selects a prominent fashion blogger as “Blogger of the Moment” and names a piece of clothing after them, creating relationships with influencers and their communities. ModCloth also hosts competitions that encourage their customers to become the designers, selecting several user generated designs to put into production. This strategy of co-creation has developed one of the most empowered and passionate followings in fashion.

Create Their Ideas

Whether for your product itself or your content marketing, taking customer ideas and making them happen is a sure way to delight your customers and prospects. Pardot uses our Idea Exchange to give customers a voice and generate ideas for over 100 product updates this year. In addition to giving customers a say in your product and marketing, acting on their suggestions will often solve a pressing problem they were experiencing.

Interview Them

When it comes to content, it is hard for readers to resist a good interview. Our brains absolutely love stories and narratives. Interviewing customers and industry experts in your content adds a human element that can cut through the noise and reach your audience. Highlighting the people in your community is also a fantastic way to build relationships between your customers and foster a more collaborative environment.

Work With Them

The most literal form of co-creation is also the one that can yield the most dramatic results. Working directly with your community on a new piece of content is a tremendous way to foster engagement while also utilizing previously untapped talent resources. Consider allowing the occasional guest post on your blog or be on the lookout for a co-branded project that could benefit both you and a partner.

While B2C companies like ModCloth are already leading the way into the third stage of social, B2B companies are just now beginning to dip their toes into the collaboration pool. Thankfully, this means leading B2C companies have left a number of ways B2B marketers can engage in co-creation today.

Image Credit: Eilise Ward, The Oregonian