Did you know that the number 1 reason why people love Facebook is that it enables us to show our personality? To create an identity shows the human need for sense of community belonging and self-esteem. Social Design takes these facts into consideration, in order to bring true value to the community you aim to build.

This blog post explains what social design means for your brand’s social media presence and why it is essential when you develop applications on Facebook to increase attention and engagement among people.

The value of trust and personal relevance
With technology today, we can get answers we’re looking for right away, everywhere, at any time. When it comes to subjective questions such as “Which film should I see?” or “Which restaurant should I go to?” we turn to our community of trusted friends for recommendations. Based on our community’s feedback and input, we make emotional decisions. Social design is to create personal value by enabling interactions between people in a community.

Social Design is about human needs
It is in people’s nature to be part of communities. It is where we feel love and belonging. Through interactions within our community, we build our own identity and are able to reach self-actualization. Social Design can be compared to Marslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. We base our self-esteem on how the community sees us, which means that the community helps drive our identity. When creating a social experience, Facebook recommends in their Social Design Guidelines to take these three core elements into consideration:

  • Community refers to the people we know, trust and who helps us make decisions.
  • Conversations refers to the interactions we have with the people in our community.
  • Identity refers to our own sense of self and how we are seen by our community.

Form your Community
Applications on Facebook aren’t social without other people. Introducting users’ friends into the application with help of social plugins automatically brings the pre established trust in a community. The more activity a user sees between the application and their friends, the more likely it is that they will interact. Further, the stronger associated emotion between the user and the community, stronger the bond and trust.

To build a community and a social product connected to your brand, you should create a clearly defined personality of your community; how it makes people feel and how it creates a sense of belonging. The personality of your community can be defined and communicated by some of the following elements:

  • Values – All your content should be true to your values and believes. It is one of the core reason why people join your community.
  • Benefits – People should be sure of what they gain by belonging to your community.
  • Tone of Voice – People should recognise your community; the way you speak and act.

Enable Conversations
Interactions are what glue the identity and the community together. Interactions build trust. Our sense of belonging depends on how we express our identities to a community and how we receive feedback from it.

People will engage and share content when it gives them something of value – a stronger identity, acceptance in the community, self-actualization etc. Further, when people gain feedback from their community they are more likely to share often and be open and honest. Increased activity from users means that there is more to engage with. Conversations are fuel more conversations. To increase interactions in your community you can take following into consideration:

  • Develop Conversational touch points – It is better to list down the subjects are relevant for your brand to talk about and what would people like to engage with? It is possible to bring more value by sharing content that is useful for your community.
  • Improve News Feed ranking – Have EdgeRank in mind when you produce status updates to ensure visibility for users.

It is advisable to ensure that users can share your content easily. Provide both ´Like´ possibilities that let’s users show the community what they like which will strengthen user’s identity. It is also good to use ´Send´ possibilities that let’s users do personal recommendations to a smaller set of friends. This will strengthen trust in their community.

Help people to strength their Identity
I guess you can agree with me when I say that we all feel joy when the updates we share on Facebook get attention amongst our friends. The reward – a sign that we get feedback from our community – increases our self-confident and strengthens our identities. We want to share who we are and be accepted for who we are.

The interaction we do – such as updates, comments and ´Likes ´ – tells who we are and what we stand for. We build a stronger identity with help of our Facebook profile. So take in consideration what a ´Like´ of your page or a sharing of your content tells about a person’s identity.

As we design applications for Facebook we should take into consideration existing social truths; which communities and identities we affect. Ask yourself why people should like your page. Everything you create for your fans on Facebook should help them to express who they are and build their identity. As I have mentioned earlier too, its better to build personalized experiences with help of social plugins. Encourage conversation by showing social context and activity throughout your application. Make it easy to talk, share, give feedback and engage.

It is good to ensure that every step from strategy and concept development to content and visual design are adapted to this social context. Keep in mind that it’s how people, your potential customers, behave and communicate that has formed our social platforms such as Facebook. Lastly, build experiences that bring true value to your fans.