MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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“Are You Passionate?”: How to generate and harness passion through social media

What are you passionate about?

When most people answer this question they tend to err towards the typical responses of family, friends, music,  peace, war, politics and so on. In Neil Young’s 2002 song “Are You Passionate?” he asks “Are you passionate? Are you livin’ like you talk?…. Are you loving it?Can you ever get enough of it? Is it everything?” Of course this song is not about passions generally (it goes on to talk about war) but those few lines give a nice overview of what passion is to people. If you’re passionate about something you’re actions will reflect your passion and you’ll want to share it with others. I don’t want to go so far as to say that passion consumes people’s lives entirely and can be “everything” to them; but sometimes when people are passionate about something it can become a main factor in their life. For example how some people feel about a particular charitable cause or political injustice often plays a major role in how they live their day-to-day lives.

Passions can play such a large part in people’s lives. So how can we as communicators get people passionate about the products or services of our organization through social media channels so that they share their passion with others?

The latest podcast post on Managing the Gray deals with passion. C.C. Chapman, recently gave a presentation about passion and how to best use it in a social media context. I like the example he gives about the latest movie you’ve seen and how it’s likely you were swayed into seeing it probably because of a friend’s recommendation more than the print ad. Passion is contagious and that is why it is important in social media.

He speaks about how to leverage social media and how to get consumers to be passionate. His recommendations include:

  • Asking fans to share their thoughts instead of waiting for them to respond
  • Keep it simple- you want the portal to be accessible to as many people as possible
  • You cannot buy passion but it can be fueled- hold an event, offer incentives to get consumers’ opinions
  • Listen to the consumer and what they’re saying about your product and the competitors (tools like Radian 6)
  • The more voices you get the better the story is going to be
  • If there are people within your organization who are passionate about it, get them to share their stories too
  • Let consumers tell their own stories, don’t try to translate it to corporate speak to fit your messaging
  • Give it time to grow

I agree with Chapman that passion has great potential in the world of social media. I mean, isn’t it true that the reason most people start blogs is because they are passionate about the topic they blog about. For example, my roommate blogs about her vegan cooking and follows several other blogs on the same topic. I like the suggestions he gives about harnessing such passion to the benefit of an organization but I feel like it doesn’t really address how to create such passion in people but rather how to address it once it already exists.

Any ideas on how to get people passionate about a brand or product?

May 24, 2009 - Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , ,


  1. Nice Neil Young quote! I really like your comments on creating passion and living it out. When I think of organizations or products that I’ve become passionate about, I realize that they all have a common thread. The people who I see at the forefront of these organizations, the information I read on the websites, or the quality of the products – they are “livin’ what they talk”. When the rubber meets the road, these organizations are the ones who live it out. They aren’t trying to sell passion as an idea or a trend; they are simply passionate about something and are attempting to communicate that passion to a wider audience.
    As the artist Kate Wolf said, “Find what you really care about and live a life that shows it.” In the world of social media as we make our way through the clutter of information, I believe the organizations and people who stand above the fray are the ones who simply (as in keeping it simple) share the message and sincerely live it out.

    Comment by sarahjanemac | May 25, 2009 | Reply

  2. Hi Tracey,

    Passion is at the heart of so many things, including social media. Why? Because social media gives the passionate a voice that’s louder and more unique than ever before. We’re all publishers, we’re all content providers, we’re all editors and readers and critics and artists.

    As for getting people passionate about a brand or product, there’s nothing magical about that. It starts with a GREAT brand or product in the first place. And if the product itself isn’t remarkable, the company around it can and should be. People find their passion for things because it gives them an experience that excites them, taps their creativity, solves a problem, or makes them feel good. There’s no shortcut. Passionate fans come from doing great work.

    Kudos for kicking off a solid discussion!

    Amber Naslund
    Director of Community, Radian6

    Comment by Amber Naslund | May 26, 2009 | Reply

  3. […] about what they do. It gets me very excited about the subject too. I guess that goes back to the Passion post from Managing the Gray I talked about before. Passion is certainly contagious and I think I caught it from […]

    Pingback by Ethics in Search Engine Optimization « MSVU Social Media Course Blog | June 15, 2009 | Reply

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