How Brands Can Apply Design Thinking To Social Content Creation

In today’s digital landscape, engaging a target audience through social media content has become increasingly challenging for brands. After all, social content is more than just likes and views – if it doesn’t forge a genuine connection, it brings nothing to a brand’s name. 

To approach this matter, brands can apply design thinking – an approach to problem-solving that is user-centered – to their social content creation. I believe that by understanding the target audience, brands can create content that is not only more engaging, but also more impactful.


User-centred research and insights

Design thinking emphasises understanding the needs and preferences of the target audience. To gain deeper knowledge of an audience, brands can conduct research, surveys, and interviews that shed light on their audience’s interests and pain points, enabling them to create content that resonates with their followers.

A great example of this is Airbnb’s “Live Anywhere on Airbnb” campaign, which offered twelve participants the opportunity to experience the digital nomad lifestyle for one year, and received over 314, 000 applicants. To get the campaign right, Airbnb conducted extensive research to identify the challenges faced by this audience and created content that showcased unique listings suited for long-term stays.

By adopting a user-centred approach, the AirBnB team successfully customised their social content to cater to a particular audience segment. Additionally, the team put the insights to further use by making changes to their app that helped to improve the customer experience of remote workers and people looking for long-term stays.


Iterative content development and testing

Design thinking encourages an iterative approach to problem-solving by building, refining, and improving a project until the end result is satisfactory. Brands can apply this concept to social content creation by continuously testing and refining their content ideas. By releasing smaller pieces of content, analysing performance, and gathering feedback, brands can make data-driven improvements to their content strategies.

For instance, Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign began in Australia in 2011. Using iterative content development, the brand created personalised bottles that featured popular names, and encouraged people to meet and share photos and stories on social media using the hashtag #ShareACoke. 

The campaign started with some of the most popular Australian names printed on the bottles and appearing in fridges across the country allowing consumers to discover this themselves. 

They extended this initiative to multiple countries by allowing consumers to participate in selecting the upcoming set of names to be launched. Additionally, they established kiosks to enable people to instantly print their names on a Coca-Cola bottle and launched a website where you could enter your name to have it included in their forthcoming local orders.


More importantly, this campaign encouraged existing audiences to consume the drink by inviting them to “Share a Coke” with someone they know, thus boosting sales and improving brand presence. I believe part of the reason that this was a huge success is because of the simple mechanics, which made it easy for a broad range of people to participate. Everyone loves a little personalisation when it comes to brand experience!

By continuously testing and optimising, Coca-Cola acquired valuable insights, and successfully expanded their “Share a Coke” campaign worldwide.


Collaborative content creation

Lastly, design thinking promotes collaboration and diverse perspectives. Brands can involve various stakeholders in the content creation process. By leveraging different skill sets and perspectives, brands can generate innovative and inclusive content ideas.

One excellent example of collaborative content creation is LEGO’s “Rebuild the World” campaign, which engaged both children and adults in the content creation process to show that play is essential for the happiness of the family. The brand invited fans to submit their creative LEGO builds, and the selected creations were showcased in LEGO’s social media content and advertisements.

By involving their audience in content creation, LEGO encouraged a collaborative and inclusive approach to generating its campaign, thus strengthening the relationship with its audience and extending the core brand message across different platforms. 

In short, by applying design thinking principles to social content creation, brands can create content that is more user-centric, iterative, and collaborative, leading to a higher engagement and a stronger connection with their audience.

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