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Social objects and handles

Social & Digital

Social objects and handles


I like the thought of social objects having grips, handles or even doors.

These handles would allow objects to travel around social networks more rapidly because people can pick them up more easily.

A quick casual definition of a social object:

  • Something we can share
  • Normally has interest or relevance to our ego
  • Something to have a conversation around
  • Physical, abstract, visual, aural… anything really
  • You, your t-shirt, the wine you drink and the restaurant you went to on the weekend

Before talking about handles…

Why are social object so damn important?

Interactions and friendships are central to our being. Objects that allow us to stand out and be recognised, give others a sense of who we are. Most of us are (or want to be) different to others to form an ego. Surrounding ourselves with particular combinations of objects allows us to transmit a sense of self quickly.

In order for a brand or product to become a frequently and positively used social object, it needs to be remarkable. The re bit here is important in digital context as something that can be marked easily, but in order for it to be remarked, it must inspire others and capable of being transported into other conversations.

Conversations don’t happen around boring objects, they usually start with something interesting about the observed world.

OK, so handles…

The thing is, social objects need to get passed on in order to have any affect on a brands ROI model, so we need to create objects that have handles. Sure being remarkable is a necessity, but in terms of crafting the actual execution of a social marketing plan, each and everyone object needs to be leveraged and designed in such a way that it can take flight.

Handles merely allow us to think about how many and what type of handles our social objects have. Therefore we can build models for how successful they might be… after all, we are meant to be measuring all of this!

A social object has two important elements: A or many gestures and different types of handles.

Gestures are another interesting and important facet of a social object. If your object has an inherent gesture when it gets passed on, it carries with it not only the brand but a powerful social norm. For instance it could be a gifting gesture or it may help someone in need – whatever it is we understand gestures.

Handles allow different types of people to grip onto the object. A movie has many different handles, and different people will be attracted to different qualities of object and pass those on. Strong objects because have increased amounts of handles. Think of your favourite bit of a movie you love, it’s a social object, especially if it’s a phrase or sound and you use it as part of your ego.

However, abstract movie concepts are perhaps more complex to pass on than objects with less handles. A twitter microblog may only contain one handle, but can be passed on very easily and rapidly. So they could be as equally shared, although maybe not as easily gripped.

Useful handles for a movie could be:

  • People (celebrities)
  • The title
  • Theme or metaphor
  • An outstanding element (like all the blood in Kill Bill)
  • The outcome

A tweet may have handles like:

  • Numbers or statistics
  • A made up word
  • Symbols
  • Actually, is a tweet a social object?

Either way, these handle elements would seem to help create conversations around an object and allow it to travel through a social network more powerfully, gaining greater amplification in a shorter period.

Please, your thoughts and opinions.


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