The Importance of WAGAS

With the Big Game finishing up this weekend and the annual blitz of brands jockeying for consumer’s hearts and minds, it’s worth taking a look at one of my favorite terms, WAGAS. Its a filter I use when evaluating content, creative, etc. that stands for Would Anyone Give A Shit. Somewhat crass but it’s needed to be a no-nonsense filter on if what you’re working on will resonate. WAGAS is the filter that ties together areas including:

  • the Hook = WAGAS starts strong and typically has something in the immediate moments to grab a consumers attention. That initial grab is important, however if it doesn’t deliver after the hook is set the effects can be really bad. This is where dogsploitation, e.g. cute lab puppies and horses or Kate Upton can get immediate attention but they need a payoff.
  • Value Exchange + Social Currency = Is there a fair exchange in the consumer’s time or mindshare and what the brand is delivering. This could be done across a variety of measures, however one of the most popular is social currency. That is, something delivered from the brand that enhances the consumer’s role in their network(s). It could be a reference that supports conversation, connection, identity, advocacy, etc. From the ads this weekend, it could be a funny reference like the polar bear in the sombrero or a great line from the Dodge commercial, e.g. “Don’t Bitch”. WAGAS works great when that value exchange happens and a consumers gets something they can take with them for their time spent with the brand.
  • Investment = As part of the value exchange, if its a worthwhile transaction there should be an investment the consumer takes on, in many cases as a call-to-action. Could be as simple as a hashtag, link, sharing, etc. This is a best-case scenario as the consumer is doing something on behalf of the brand. A filter used frequently is “why would they care, why would they share” which takes the hint from WAGAS-worthy content and connects it to the investment of an action on behalf of the brand. This is the difference in consumer tweets “powering a car” in a race vs. just “who we think will win” with little payoff.

WAGAS isn’t about being “cool”, WAGAS is about being remarkable, that is someone would want to make a remark about it. It’s not always easy to achieve WAGAS but worth pursuing.


The Buttons Facebook Needs…

Facebook is a cultural phenomenon and the key conversation in social business. Its role in design is also changing strategies and approaches across experiences, offline and online. Of particular significance is that cute little thumb icon and those four little letters, “like”. People like lots of things. According to sites like, over 70 million people “like” things every day. Ironically, one of the most “liked” things is actually Facebook itself, with over 35 million fans. Data is still rolling on the effectiveness of a “like”, especially with regard to ROI. Facebook continues to introduce innovative ways for business to measure success, including an updated Insights dashboard last year.

We know that Facebook “likes” business and business “likes” Facebook, but what about design? Mark Cuban had a fantastic post last year on design and the “like” button. Mashable also had its own perspective recently on the impact the “like” button is having across the Web. Here’s my own spin… the buttons that Facebook needs but doesn’t have today. Here’s a few:

Dislike. This one is pretty obvious but is really needed. Even a simple thumbs down as an alternative to the thumbs up. I’m not trying to spread Hatorade across the Internets, it’s more of providing a forum for the other side of positive feedback, especially for businesses.

Love. Anyone who has checked out Seth Godin’s work on permission marketing, knows there’s levels of engagement, especially between a brand and a consumer. Like may be a good measure in that relationship, but there are those consumers as you move up the engagement curve that want more. Godin refers to these at the “Intravenous” level. They’re chips are all in. For those consumers, it’s not about like, it is about love. I may “like” Camping World and TaylorMade Golf but I “love” the Budos Band and Adriana Lima, nice.

Terminator. We know an important role of YouTube, Facebook and other social resources is to introduce new ways to destroy time throughout the day. What better way to help out your network than calling it out in advance by marking it with the “terminator”. This way you can aggregate all of your time-destroying resources into a single feed. I realize it may just be easier to follow Charlie Sheen’s Twitter feed, yet this would be a great complement.

Skittles. This one has two strategies. One, “skittles” is one of my favorite words. I see the opportunities for a “skittles” button in showing your appreciation for things that are cool or different in interesting ways. Tag that cool photo or piece of digital art from Huck Gee with some “skittles”. Two, let the brands create their own buttons. Facebook embraces open-source, so why not open it up to the very brands that using it as a platform. The idea of integrating Facebook deeper into existing Web experiences continues to be a focus for Facebook. Maybe this is a next step to explore.

We can’t get too crazy here. The user experience of Facebook is already challenging at times and we don’t want to make it more unusable. Still, a little can go a long way toward more engagement and integration of Facebook into the Web.

So there’s a few buttons to consider. What do you think? Any buttons you’d like to see added to the mix?

What the Fortune 500 Can Learn From Shaquille O’Neal About Social Media

Few people on this planet are “larger than life” both figuratively and literally. One person that fits the bill is Shaquille O’Neal. From bursting on the scene at LSU to his acting in Blue Chips, Shaq has been bringing smiles to fans everywhere. Now, he’s found the perfect fit. Welcome to Shaqachusetts. His arrival in Boston resulted in a starting lineup of 5 All-Stars. Pretty cool. He’s made his mark in Beantown through his visibility, accessibility and embracing of Boston, all tracked live and in person via social media.

With almost 3.5 million followers, @THE_REAL_SHAQ is a force to be reckoned with among all of Twitter.

Why all the followers? Why all the hype? What can a Fortune 500 or any corporation for that matter learn from this?

Part of this is context that just won’t fit period. Shaq is a human being who is visible, a celebrity, sports star, etc. which a corporation cannot be, unless your Apple. Still, there are things to learn from who he is and what he does. They’re fundamentals that make social media work, Shaq provides a great perspective to show them in action. Here are some key points to consider when working with social media, especially at the enterprise level.

1. Be Genuine

This is where the corporate “task forces” and “steering committees” can get wayward. I’m a firm believer that social media is changing the face of corporate America because it forces conversations that previously went unlooked, avoided or simply unknown. Companies (especially as they scale in size) will thrive when they can get over themselves and get real. The faster organizations embrace the idea of learning who they really are, the better they’ll be able to reflect it in their brands. Social media externally is one thing, but it’s got to start internally. Social tools can help accelerate that. Shaq is a great example of my own personal mantra, “take what you do seriously, not yourself”. Away from the court, you’ll see Shaq as a human statue in Harvard Square or conducting the Boston Pops. On the court, it’s all business for his team. All of this is on display on Twitter, YouTube, etc. Yes, he may have outside help in managing his digital presence, but it is done in a genuine and consistent approach.

2. Be Timely

Its well known, social media has a very low barrier to entry with a significant requirement to be timely in the conversation. The concept may be basic, but it’s often neglected: be timely in your social media interactions. NBA rules aside, Shaq does a good job of giving enough behind the scenes in a close to real-time format to be on-point. Don’t turn your social efforts into a editorial calendar, remember it’s an ongoing dialogue, a conversation with your audience(s). It’s perfectly cool to outline topics of interest and regular contributions. However, remember to have the flexibility to turn on a dime without disrupting the overall experience.

3. Create Value

At the end of the day, the entire organization and operation cannot lose sight of how and where they create value. Social is no different. Don’t forget to look through the eyes of your consumer’s point-of-view. Ask from their perspective “What’s in it for me”. With Shaq this is certainly easier because of his celebrity. At the core though is demeanor and genuine approach which as a fan or follower makes it a great experience to step into the world of Shaq.

Don’t overthink your approach. Balance that with intent. Being intentional is always a good filter, that “common sense” test as a first line of defense.

Shaq’s but one example.

Who do you think does a good job of knowing thyself and manifesting it through their strategy in digital and multi-channel as a person or company?