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Social-Out: A Strategic Methodology for Growing & Sustaining a Brand Via Social

Charles Ifegwu, Manager Director, THE FIFTH

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A paradigm shift is transforming marketing organizations and their ability to drive successful campaigns as we speak. In a world where culture and commerce moves at the speed of social, the imperative to shift from a framework where social thinking and executions are at the bottom of the priority list is becoming untenable.

This shift, this new best practice, this realization that social is pervasive and elevates success across channels, is known as “social-out”.

As the days where brands are built through traditional media fade, new media realities are forcing brands to rethink how they prioritize their marketing, flipping the old model on its head. Upstart and legacy brands must prioritize social in order to build consumer relevance, maximize omni-channel efficacy, and drive bottom-line results.

Defining Social-Out

Social media is the biggest driver in culture and brand relevance today, defined by a complex web of social engagements and cultural pervasiveness that drives marketing concepts, creative, and performance across ALL channels. This requires a foundational prioritization that reflects the new media realities marketers face, where social platforms have displaced traditional media as the largest and most scalable platforms for creative distribution. As the power of social media has grown, the balance of power between old media and consumers has shifted, giving rise to the Fifth Estate.

The Fifth Estate represents a new stakeholder in the society, this body of creators and consumers has the ability to amplify messaging to the forefront of conversations and shape the narrative around a brand. Winning executions utilizing this Fifth Estate not only benefit brands across social, but the concepts and communities built there are then utilized to drive more potent and resonant executions across ALL other channels. Now online communities generate, react to, and spread messages that resonate with them, delivering brands the community amplification that is required for brand marketers today.

Social-out, a strategic and creative methodology that centers brand marketing executions around the thinking that all ideas must inherently be social, is the answer to the rise of the Fifth Estate. To succeed in this new reality, brand marketers must focus on building strong communities around their brand. Social-out requires that all marketing ideas have a foundation in social thinking and culture to influence audiences and reach a maximum level of campaign efficacy.

Social-out executions also expedite and extend the growth curve of brands and brand campaigns due to the reality that social communities carry, nurture, and amplify a brand's message faster, more potently, and more organically. To achieve this, brand marketers must flip the script, re-prioritizing legacy methods of brand building to social community building.

The realization isn’t that other forms of media don’t have their place within a marketing mix; instead, it’s understanding how social impacts them. Your next big broadcast spot, digital campaign, or brand film needs to drive social chatter to truly be viewed as impactful and successful. That same broadcast spot may even take its creative inspiration from social cultural moments or gif/meme/creator culture.

Whether you’re building a foundationally social brand, utilizing the community you built to drive success on other channels, or prioritizing social thinking as you plan campaigns on channels outside of social, a ‘social-out’ mentality primes you for success.

The Social-Out Brand Imperative

The principles of “social-out” thinking and execution can be applied to any brand, of any size, in any industry.

Prioritizing a “social-out” methodology provides brands several advantages over more traditional competitors. First, brands reap cost and time efficiencies. Creator and/or social creative led campaigns tend to be faster and cheaper to produce than many of their more traditional counterparts. Campaigns rooted in this type of thinking also tend to perform better due to them being native to the platforms they live on while multiplying the effectiveness of other channels. Couple economical and native creative with simultaneously adding to your community building efforts, and you have a winning strategy.

Second, by building strong communities around their brand, marketers can tap into the power of community insights. Community insights are the most underutilized advantage of a “social-out” methodology. Brands with an active community can quickly assess messaging, new products, or campaigns by directly asking their consumers. This allows them to quickly pivot or hop on new trends that their community can surface for them.

Lastly, a social community can both amplify the spread of a message and supply content for a brand to repurpose. This frees up resources for other marketing initiatives and supplies a steady stream of content for their socials. Even when brands are ready to activate on more traditional channels, they have concepts that have already been validated by social communities that will be amplified by these brand ambassadors.

How Your Brand Can Harness Social-Out

Nascent brands like Goodr, a breakout sunglass brand, have built their companies using ‘social-out’ methods, and have grown to pulling in an estimated $25 million a year in revenue. First, they utilized social creators to develop and distribute content on Instagram and other platforms. Creators captured the brand’s ethos and POV, which led to engaging content that helped build a passionate community around the brand. Empowering creators to put their own spin on how they’d wear Goodr led to a steady stream of authentic content that the brand could use to build its community.

This community of active runners, golfers, bikers, and other athletes was built with purpose and intent, and it now not only serves as the backbone that fuels the company’s rapid growth, but also gave the company a community to amplify messaging as they expand into more traditional marketing channels like TV and OOH.

This works for legacy brands as well, utilized for some of the past decade’s most successful campaigns. Apple built its most successful campaign in recent memory from the ‘social-out’ methodology. ‘Shot on iPhone’ was originally a challenge hashtag on social, inviting iPhone users to shoot & share their best photos on social media, which would then be highlighted in a billboard campaign. It built a moment in culture that was further amplified on social media by the community, building so much traction that the ‘Shot on iPhone’ campaign became an almost decade-long National and cultural blowout success, even serving as the inspiration for a Super Bowl ad.

With dispersed audiences across various platforms, brands must reevaluate their marketing frameworks. Rethink what influence is and how it’s transmitted. Rethink who wields influence today for their target audience. Rethink how to create and measure social content. Brands that embrace and prioritize ‘social-out’ thinking will command better results and perform better in the marketplace. ‘Social-out ' is a methodology designed to transcend markets. Executed correctly, brands can outgrow any single platform, outstripping their competition, and break into modern culture.


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About Charles Ifegwu

Charles Ifegwu (Managing Director, US, THE FIFTH) heads THE FIFTH’s US operation, overseeing the company's commitment of empowering leading brands to execute at the intersection of creators, creative, and culture. He has 17+ years of experience leading marketing, creative, entertainment, and agency operations for leading organizations in those fields, overseeing front-end strategy, campaign execution, measurement, and client partnerships for leading brands across a variety of different verticals. Prior to joining THE FIFTH, Charles led Client Partnerships for MOCEAN, a leading global production, design, social, and entertainment marketing agency.


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