Social Media Strategy: Working within your Client’s Culture

I was at a conference on Thursday and was fortunate enough to hear Scott Jameson, Marketing Director for Realityworks, speak on the company’s social media strategy. The interesting part of this particular strategy is that it only loosely involves social media.

In chapter seven of Digital Literacy, Rachel Spilka delves into the intricacies of cross-cultural communications: namely the different social sensitivities across continents. This is a very important and nuanced topic. While I am not comparing this lofty topic to the development of Realityworks’ social media plan, they certainly do have some similarities. Not only does every country have a culture, but every region also. Even every little town and suburb have their own mojo. Why wouldn’t we think that every company and client isn’t just as dynamically unique – even if it is true only in the minutia? But there are times when that minutia changes how a region, town, or client base functions at a base level. This is where we, as communicators, need to be in the know.

A high school student holds a Realityworks’ baby-simulation doll.

If you are not familiar, Realityworks is best known for their baby simulation doll. Schools all over the nation and world are purchasing these life-like dolls and their accompanying software to aid in teaching high schoolers, in a very memorable fashion, what types of life-changes can occur post-baby. Really doesn’t this type of unique and interesting product make for the perfect marriage with social media? So what is the problem? Where is the culture issue? Well, if you didn’t pick it up yet, you are missing the point – just like I did. Mr. Jameson explained how while listening to their clients they learned that most schools block access to social media sites. (And crash goes the social media strategy.) This is a culture issue that is critical for Realityworks to be aware of: It changes how their clients’ function and deeply effects how they browse online.

Mr. Jameson explained that Realityworks does still maintain active presences on most social media sites. He explained that they aid in building public awareness and media interest. However, the purchasers of their product needed more. After some focus group sessions it was learned the clients were begging for information. More information. Detailed information. They had questions like: “How do other schools do xyz?” and “Are grants available for such purchases?” Mr. Jameson felt the perfect solution was a Realityworks’ forum that allows users to talk about their purchases and the programs they build around them. This solution allows for:

  • all potential buyers to be able to access information, even while they are in the school building itself
  • social-media-style sharing of information
  • users to share details about how they manage the programs
  • users to share their opinions and related stories
  • potential buyers to see others’ experiences

For Realityworks a forum serves them and their clients better than any Facebook page or Pinterest post ever could. (Of course the forum really is a type of social media, but one I have not personally considered previously.) The important thing here is that Mr. Jameson really listened to his clients, learned their culture, and adjusted the company’s social media strategy to best serve them.

Posted on November 11, 2012, in Social Media, Society. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Interesting choice for forum, although as you say it makes complete sense. Are the clients students or teachers though? I would still think that, even with social media sites blocked, students wouldn’t want to explore an “old” medium and instead keep looking for the more social angle, perhaps on their smartphones? If they have these dolls, don’t they take them home too? Just trying to seek out a bit more info…

    • The most common clients are teachers in family and consumer education departments within high schools. My understanding is the students do take the dolls with them everywhere. I bet you are right, these kids would definitely be wanting to connect via the social media outlets – to share the panic of a techno baby crying at 2 a.m.!!

  2. This was such an interesting read. I found the solution Realityworks created to be tailored just right to the main audience, the educators. However, I think it is a great idea as well to communicate with the secondary audience, the high school kids (who actually use the product) on the social media sites. That’s where they ‘hang out’ anyways. Additionally, the company would get direct feedback about any technical issues those baby dolls might have – for product improvement purposes.

  3. Thank you for the hilarious flashback to high school, when we had to take home Baby Think-It-Over. It had two lights on the back, a “neglect” light and an “abuse” light, and we were graded based on whether or not our lights were on by the end of three days of “parenting.” We had to handle it gently, aside from having to stick a key in it’s back when it randomly started crying. After school, I kept the lights off through several hours at my waitressing job, then took it home the first night, only to have my mother jokingly toss it in the air, lighting up the “abuse” light. She had to write a note about how she had been an abusive “grandmother.” The teacher read the note the next day about my mom tossing and dropping the “baby,” looked at me and said, “Well, that explains a lot.” Hmm. I wonder what she meant by that? 🙂

  4. “The important thing here is that Mr. Jameson really listened to his clients, learned their culture, and adjusted the company’s social media strategy to best serve them.”

    You make an excellent point here. The companies that are most successful in their emerging media communication strategies are the ones that go the extra mile to accommodate their clients. Using a social media platform that is less than convenient for the client misses the mark in a big way.

  5. I looked at the Realityworks Facebook site just to see what kind of responses it was getting. Most of the content came from Realityworks itself, which is no big surprise. The second most frequent response dealt with people wondering about buying the dolls. There were a couple posts from students who were seeking help with dolls that didn’t work, and one of them surprised me; I guess it really shouldn’t have, though.

    A student posted that the baby wasn’t working or programmed right and he was “really pissed off.” Lovely. Nothing like modeling good etiquette to teach your simulated baby values. Crude. Tacky. Then the student’s mom posted a comment saying the boy shouldn’t worry because she saw everything, and she was going to talk to the teacher. First of all, the boy was talking about having the baby for a whole weekend, so it seems hard to believe the student’s mother would have everything. Second, what mom needs to post an excuse for her son or even talk to her teenage son through Facebook? Kind of sad.

  6. I guess the baby is a kind of metaphor for social media: simulated human interaction. Does the doll have the intended effect? Do they have any data? Just curious.

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