Social Gravity and Emotional Density

aka: do stuff that matters to the people who actually matter.

I’ve been thinking recently about what is wrong with most Social Media marketing efforts. At the Web 2.0 conference in San Fransisco Peter, Jeremy and Charlene gave their opinion about how to fix this.

The Owned Bought and Earned Media mix model has been useful for explaining why we need to move away from just buying media space, but it sometimes causes people to focus on the quantity of buzz, rather than the quality. The dreaded plague of viral marketing is a symptom of this way of thinking, where size of audience is everything. Consumer engagement is outdated if the aim is just reach: in that case it is really no different to the old PR models.

I’ve said before that great WOM marketing is actually not focused on the creation of buzz. Buzz should be the by-product of running a company in the right way, treating people right and making happiness your business model.

I’ve also been thinking about brands as planets, which do or do not have strong gravitational pull within their given universe. Let me explain…




The diagram above shows how people get more valuable to your company as they get closer to the Core.

At the Core are employees: obviously vital to an organization, they should be your number one priority. The companies that do things right end up with an internal army of excited advocates.

Then there are rings of customers who start with the most loyal and vocal Advocates and the Fans. These people have strong emotional attachment to your brand. Marketing effort should be spent cultivating relationships with these people, energizing them, nuturing relationships between them.

At the outer ring is the gaseous layers of Flirts who may be buying from you infrequently, but they are disloyal and mostly indifferent to you. Bringing them closer to the Core is hard work, but building up too many of them creates a big empty brand lacking in Emotional Density.

Prospects float around on the outside, currently unattached to your brand emotionally. But, ironically, most marketing efforts are focused on them, rather than on the existing customers.

By focussing on the centre of this planet – by making your marketing deeper and more engaging – you are strengthening the bonds at the Core and giving your planet higher density.

Higher Emotional Density means more gravitational pull … more Social Gravity.

Asi Sharibi puts it well:

From a brand perspective you’re better off to reach out to as many existing fans as possible (these people already have a built in incentive to talk about you) and give them more reasons and tools to talk about you in a genuinely favourable way

In essence, this then becomes pull rather than push marketing.
It is about all the stuff I believe in: Community Management, building Tribes, making your brand itself a Social Object.
It’s pull tactics that would seem to be needed in the Attention Economy:
Add emotional depth to your marketing; engage people rather than shout at them; create bonds that matter at the Core. 
In essence: do stuff that matters to the people who actually matter.
After all, the alternative is just shouting and releasing too much gas…
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6 thoughts on “Social Gravity and Emotional Density

  1. Jussi-Pekka says:

    I guess you should focus on creating products and services that are social objects. Yes, brands can be socail objects, but it should be done through the offering.

  2. Mike Davison says:

    I liked this model more with an emotional jump ramp 😉

    Depth of relationship should be an organizational aim BUT building awareness and exposure are other important objectives for marcomms – as is demand fulfillment. The gaseous part can be about helping a mass audience to self select themselves as ‘interested’. and this can be built upon. I maintain that fitting it all together and knowing who does what in an organization is key to making this work. Aims and goals need sharpening.



  3. @jussipekka good point, and I agree that most social objects should be actual products and services. But still, the things your brand and its representatives actually do have the potential to bring people closer, and feel more emotionally involved: that makes people attracted to, and identify with, the brand itself.

    @Mike of course their is still a role for both, i’m just saying that too much focus is on the outer gases rather than building up that core

    But good points both, as always 🙂

  4. I really enjoyed reading this. Particularly liked the notion of Buzz being be the by-product of running a company in the right way, treating people right and making happiness your business model. The companies that we have been most successful taking from business to brand are the ones that truly engage those around them…from the heart, not the mind. When you connect with the heart, only then do you have the chance to bring those in remote planetary orbit (using your diagram)closer to the light! And the brighter your light the more you attract. Buckminster Fuller talks about this in his generalized principle that mass attracts. I believe the key in the social media space is building more mass by connecting with people who truly care. You are right on in your thinking. Mass must equal quality connections because life is just too short. Thank you for alerting me to this on Twitter.

  5. […] do you increase Goodwill? Make people feel special. Make happiness your business model. Do things that matter for the people who matter. Be an experience facilitator. It’s about pro-active customer service as marketing, but also […]

  6. […] “Helper” is not an obvious role for a traditional marketer, but this is one of the most important quadrants, in my opinion. As I have said before, and Faris has also said recently, helping customers is great marketing. It should not be seen as a separate activity done by the Support Team. Great customer service is the most remarkable thing you can do, it makes people happy, and causes your marketing to have Emotional Density. […]

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