“How To Create A Social Object”

Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 3.51.29 PM
[Photo courtesy of Carly Starrat]

Yesterday I was in Chicago, at the WOMMA Summit, riffing about “Social Objects”, a subject very dear to my heart.

Kudos to Katie Kile for summing up my nine principles for creating social objects.

1. Make Meaning: The market for people wanting something to believe in is infinite; make your products “worth it.”

2. Create/Find a Purpose: People often confuse purpose with meaning, but the purpose relates back to the reason you get up in the morning and do what you do.

3. Create Play: Humans innately like to play; it’s the way we first start negotiating the world, so give people a reason to want to interact with your product.

4. Create New Language: If you want to evolve your product, you have to evolve marketing. You have to talk to people in a way they have never been talked to before.

5. Create share-ability: Don’t make it easy for people to share your product; Make it easy for them to share THEMSELVES.

6. Push Boundaries of Design: Design matters! It has the ability to differentiate your product.

7. Facilitate Community: Turn your product into a place where people gather rather than thing people that people buy.

8. Create New Context: Allow people to see your brand in a new light.

9. Enable “Meatspace”: Bring people together to facilitate discussions around your product.

Like every other list I’ve ever made, this list is still a work-in-progress, and far from definitive or complete. But it’s still an idea that excites me, many, many blog posts later.

[N.B. I didn’t coin the term, Social Objects. That honor goes to and old blogging buddy of mine, the insanely brilliant Jyri Engestrom. Though I did do a pretty good job of popularizing it in marketing circles etc etc.]


  1. […] Hugh MacLeod is a cartoonist. He makes these strange little line and circle images which aren’t actually strange they’re great, along with more “typical” cartoons. The guy is really intelligent. I’m suffering writing this because I can’t skim the article. Basically the nugget I had given to me through ingesting his thoughts was make things you like. And be genuine about continuing to make things that you like. He has lots of great articles about creating social objects, how not to suck (he actually wrote a book about this), and much more. […]

  2. […] How to create a Social Object – by Hugh Macleod – and Hugh’s upcoming Rackspace Book […]

  3. […] work is largely based on what Hugh MacLeod calls “social objects”, which are basically topics around which people gather, talk about and share. And he has an awesome […]

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Hugh MacLeod is a genius.  Genius.

Seth Godin
Best Selling Author

His work acknowledges the absurdity of workaday life, while also encouraging employees to respond with passion, creativity, and non-conformity...   MacLeod’s work is undeniably an improvement over the office schlock of yore. At its best, it’s more honest, and more cognizant of the entrepreneurial psyche, while still retaining some idealism.

The New Republic
Lydia Depillis

Last year my State of the College address was 76 slides loaded with data. This year it was 14 cartoons that were substantially more memorable.

Len Schlesinger
Former President, Babson College

"There are only two daily newsletters that I look forward to opening and reading every time they show up to my inbox: Seth Godin's and gapingvoid."

Tony Hsieh
CEO, Zappos

In moments of indecision I glance at the wall [to Hugh's work] for guidance.

Brian Clark
  • Seth Godin
  • The New Republic
  • Len Schlesinger
  • Tony Hsieh
  • Brian Clark