The Four Spheres Of Social Media Strategy
The Four Spheres Of Social Media Strategy
by

A crowd of 80 or so attended yesterday’s social media boot camp hosted by the Kentucky chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and the Social Media Club Louisville. I was honored to serve as one of the presenters along with the undisputed queen of measurement, Katie Paine, and The Bad Pitch Blog man himself, Kevin Dugan. Rest assured, lots of learning was had, even if you just count my experience.

Part of my presentation, which was focused on developing strategic plans for social media marketing, included my Four Spheres of Social Media Strategy. Until now, I’ve not shared this theory and graphic with you and thought it would be a good time to share and solicit your feedback on it.

Four Spheres of Social Media Strategy - Social Media Explorer

What this image represents is the four areas of expertise a person needs to have in order to develop a successful social media strategy. Those four areas include:

  1. Brand Intelligence
  2. Consumer Insights
  3. Community Behavior
  4. Tools & Platforms

Brand intelligence refers to knowledge and understanding of the brand, product or service, competitive set, industry and business factors that effect how the product or service in question is positioned in the market place. A brand manager or chief marketing officer would likely be the most qualified and informed person here. For many advertising and public relations account managers, this is the easy part. You live and breathe the brand everyday. This part, you’ve got down.

Consumer insights is the combination of audience research, profiling and various graphics (demo, psycho and techno) the brand or market research teams compile to direct the marketing efforts. Admittedly, this area is often either overlooked or underfunded by most brands. Good research isn’t cheap.

If you don’t have a target audience profile from the brand team before starting your social media work, do as much audience profiling and homework as you can with social media resources like Pew Internet Project, eMarketer or Forrester Research, plus any audience research you can get out of the brand team you’re working with.

Community behavior is the understanding of how people interact, share and communicate both broadly on social media sites and narrowly within individual communities. This is having a working knowledge of the differences in sharing information on Twitter versus Digg or Facebook and how brands and companies can do so without appearing to be spammers, which varies from community to community.

Finally, tools and platforms refers to having an understanding of what social tools and platforms are out there you can recommend to a brand. This doesn’t mean you have to know everything there is to know about every tool out there. If you’re company or client has a need for photo sharing in their strategy, you go study the various tools available before making your recommendations. But you do need to be a little bit of a technologist and understand the possibilities the technology affords you.

As I developed the graphic to go along with the thinking, I thought about the cross over areas in the Venn diagram. The center overlap of all four is, of course, representative of the sweet spot for social media strategic success. The overlap between Brand Intelligence and Consumer Insight is where most good marketing professionals lie. If you know your brand and your consumer you’re going to be pretty strong as a marketer.

The overlap of Brand Intelligence and Community Behavior is where you’ll find many public relations professionals, event management professionals and those who understand activating communications around the brand. They may not have a deep understanding of online communities, but are communicators.

The overlap of Consumer Insight and Tools & Platforms is where the consumer advocates and customer service professionals may fall. They’re in touch with the consumers but know a bit of the tools that are out there to share and communicate.

And the Community Behavior-Tools & Platforms overlap is where many social media professionals can be found. They know the tool set and know how people communicate and interact using the tools. Various social media pros have different levels of understanding of the brands they work with and exposure to the consumer insights.

Obviously as you get closer to the middle and have three or four areas overlapping, you have a better chance of being able to offer solid social media strategies.

It would be remiss of me to not say I feel strongly that the Consumer Insight is the driver behind most good social media strategies. Social media done well is consumer centric, so fulfilling a social need for the consumer is the starting point for a brand’s participation in social media marketing. Each area has a level of importance, however, and good strategy cannot be had without a deference to each.

This is one man’s view of the world, however. I’m interested to know what you think, what you’ve experienced, if this diagram make sense and holds true for you and what, if anything you would do to change or adjust it.

As always, the comments are yours.

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  • I operate a company that specializes in Small Business Marketing in South Jersey.  Thank you so much for this post — I am definitely a proponent of everything in your post.  I took a hiatus from clients because I am currently over hauling my entire site to ensure that my company site/on-line presence is 100% before I work with another client. What is the best source to use to maximize my social media research to get my own social media where it should be.

    • Hey Tom. I’m assuming you mean a research source that gives you user behavior, etc. Those are certainly valuable stats and what-not to keep on hand for yourself and clients. Unfortunately, there’s a very fractured landscape when it comes to real and reliable research.

      Pew Internet & American Life Project (http://pewinternet.org) is good but generic in a lot of ways. I’m involved with Edison Research’s The Social Habit a bit (http://thesocialhabit.com) and Exact Target releases new information annually on their user research (http://exacttarget.com). There are several other resources, but no one place to pull that together. You kinda have to pick your preferences and stay glued to what they’re doing.
      Hope that helps a bit.

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  • Qigaihu

    Like love and love songs, the highest state of residual sound curl.
    The most poignant is not revenge, but sorry.
    The best love is bound to have regrets. Unfortunately it turned into a residual sound curl, long look at.
    The most poignant love, not screaming in pain, but the same care for silence.
    Disappointed, sometimes a blessing.
    As something to look forward, will be disappointed.
    Unfortunately, a blessing. Because there are things that you regret.
    Search for love, then found, love has always been one of twists and turn things.
    progressive die stamping
    pouch belt

  • Qigaihu

    Like love and love songs, the highest state of residual sound curl.
    The most poignant is not revenge, but sorry.
    The best love is bound to have regrets. Unfortunately it turned into a residual sound curl, long look at.
    The most poignant love, not screaming in pain, but the same care for silence.
    Disappointed, sometimes a blessing.
    As something to look forward, will be disappointed.
    Unfortunately, a blessing. Because there are things that you regret.
    Search for love, then found, love has always been one of twists and turn things.
    progressive die stamping
    pouch belt

  • I always used that strategic for my personal website, to promote my website in front of readers/ this techniques very useful for website owners.i suggest used it.and “Good post sir”

  • This is a fab post :) and very insightful. I like the way you've clearly expressed the 4 main concepts one must grasp in order to demonstrate and carry out a successful social media strategy.

    I'm currently working on a detailed Social Media Marketing presentation and would love to use your diagram reference (with credit to you ofcourse) as a part of the presentation if that's okay with you.

  • These are all superb insights. Really valuable and useful! Thanks Lee!

  • Great article, i was really looking for starting social media strategy for my company website. thanks it helped me.

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  • lightingdesigner

    Thanks a the presentation file!
    Such a great research!

    • You're certainly welcome. Thanks for commenting.

  • Kate

    Hi Jason, this is a great perspective. Thanks for recognizing that there are different areas of overlapping expertise that add up to the sweet spot of success. Some people think that if you are not an “technical expert” in the tools, for example, that you will fail as a communicator and in social media. Pulling together the right team of experts from various disciplines is critical. It's good to have a 30,000-foot understanding of each of the spheres, but one person can't possibly know or do it all.

    • Thanks, Kate. That's why I wrote the post. Appreciate the recognition it was
      worthwhile.

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  • stevekeeler

    Great post! I've been talking with clients, friends and anyone I can sit with, trying to explain how social media works (begins) with the goals of their organization. This visual sums up most of what I am trying to explain with words. As a golf professional I taught by audio, visual and kinesthetic. You've helped with my “visual”!

    • Glad to help, Steve. Make sure you send folks my way if they're interested in learning more about it. Now, about my slice …

      • stevekeeler

        I can't help your slice in Chicago..but travel up 71 to Cincinnati and see Sean English. He's one of your peeps from Paducah.

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  • luxury

    Good post (I may point out that you write “you're” when you mean “your”?).

    We need more ideas like this to bridge the gap between online social media and pre-internet social marketing. I coach companies, individuals and technical associations on the use of my original “marketing mantra” worksheet, designed to build communities by fostering authentic engagement.

    The process gently helps clarify and share the intangibles that make us or our company unique. That makes us valuable, and therefore worth engaging with, and therefore more profitable. It can intuitively be completed in various formats and by any group (several quality engineers, for example, have told me it would help them improve their company-wide quality/safety programs).

    Your Four Spheres will help clients focus on what part of their business or organization needs to have a Mantra first. Thanks, Jason!

    • Thanks. Off to correct my grammar. Appreciate the comment.

  • Great perspective.

  • Someone on LinkedIn today was asking about skill sets for a social media manager. I hope they find this.

    Incidentally, I agree about consumer insight. Much too often companies make a product they like and then set out to overcome consumer resistance to it. It is expensive to research, but the downside can also cost more.

    Great post–hope you'll develop it further.

    • Thanks, Will. I hope they find it too. Thanks for the comment.

  • ckwrites

    HI Jason – great diagram – really helps to see the relationships.

    I am not sure however that this represents a strategy so much as a set of tactics that together have proven to be effective, best practices if you will.

    Call me a classicist if you like, but to me the strategy has to come from outside this box, otherwise the whole thing becomes reactive.

    I think that your article does a very good job of pointing out the need to educate our clients and prospective clients about how to fit social media into the larger plan.

    In particular, the “job descriptions” based on points of intersection is a very solid piece of thinking that will help communicate what is needed to build successful teams.

    • Thanks, CK. I see the diagram as giving you the spheres of
      understanding that need to be present for a good social media strategy
      to come about. If you're missing knowledge of any of the four, a good
      strategy is hard to come by. But having each of the four areas
      covered, you've at least got a good foundation to find the social
      insight that can drive your strategy. Thanks for the comment.

  • Great post as usual. One thing which confuses many like me is that how to select a right platform for executing social media strategy? I guess many think that Twitter and Facebook are enough. Or, many think that Facebook and Twitter should always be there as part of platform so sometimes. I think that when it comes to tool social media is all about twitter and facebook. Is there any set of rules which we should follow while choosing a platform?

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  • Social media is really helpful for brand marketing. It plays an important role and the four points you mention are really connected with each other. Thanks for sharing such a nice information :)

    • You're welcome. Thanks for commenting.

  • A good social media program takes a huge investment in time to be successful. In most cases social media is a commitment that doesn't go away. A company needs to be ready to invest in this space forever, not for a month or six months.

  • A good social media program takes a huge investment in time to be successful. In most cases social media is a commitment that doesn't go away. A company needs to be ready to invest in this space forever, not for a month or six months.

  • suzanne

    Social Media should be a communication pillar housed within marketing and led by the agency of record. All good strategy, as you point out, begins with a strong understanding of the brand and consumer. Where people are and how they behave within those spaces are questions that good strategists have always asked…..regardless of the end tactic. So why do we have all of these social media agencies and specialists in control of the social media strategy? Understanding the social spheres is much easier to do for a seasoned strategist than having a social media “expert” try and gain a sharp marketing acumen. In the end, the social media “expert” seems to someone with no more than a bag of tools and tactics.

    • Thanks Suzanne. I think you're view point here is a bit constricting.
      I have yet to find a situation where an all or nothing rule can be
      applied. Social media may need to be umbrella-ed under PR depending
      upon marketing's capabilities or interest, if the two departments are
      divided.

      And I think the vast majority of the seasoned strategists have no clue
      how the online social networking spheres operate, which is why
      traditional agencies have such problems with social media. Certainly
      one who does understand the community ecosystems and has an
      understanding of the tools available is probably best suited to drive
      social media strategy, but the truth is there aren't that many of
      those types around.

      As for the “expert” reference. I can see where you're coming from. So
      many people selling themselves as experts are not. The ones who are
      would probably never say they were. And the ones who understand
      branding, the consumers and the methods which are best used to
      communicate on the social web are apt to drive social media strategy.
      Admittedly, there are fewer people qualified under these
      characteristics than there are senior strategists who also understand
      the social web, but they're out there.

  • petecallaghan

    A helpful overview – a reminder not to get distracted by all the froth and bubble over social media tools.

  • I think Social Media is all about how you market your brands amongst other people. Social Media is really an effective way, But you really have to know their tools and how it works. Nice info.

  • MFC

    Interesting discussion. It seems to all come down to basic marketing principles applied in the social marketing sphere. Who are your customers? What do they think of your brand? What tools do you have to reach them? What message do you use when reaching them through different tools…just an entrepreneur's 2 cents

    • And a valuable two cents it is. Thanks for the acknowledgement there.
      You're right. It's not much different.

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  • I think your thinking is very good. However, I believe this is moving target and clients should focus on tools and drive the consumer experience via new techniques like http://tr.im/D64D which essentially create a mail “autoresponder” like service for tweets! The understanding and use of tools/techniques will move from customer service to marketing then watch out as relatively zero is spent now on tools/socialmedia outreach.

    • Appreciate the input Brian. A little spammy with the link and all, but
      I get your point. What you're missing is that the tools only do so
      much. A strategy on how to use those tools or have your customers use
      the tools to enhance their connection with the brand is the hard part.
      That's how social media marketing will work. If you make it tool-
      centric, you'll only have gadgets, not customers.

      • interactivemix

        Thats an interesting point as well. Is it spammy to include a link when you are adding to the discussion and and furthering the conversation?

        I am not completely convinced of that. Fair enough if all you post is “Great discussion see my site LINK wooho” but for somebody who is adding to the discussion I uses a link to highlight a point they are making can that truthfully be considered SPAM?

        • It's all in how you present it. Just came across as a little spammy.
          It kind of reads “check out my site/tool” not “here's an example of
          what I'm referring to.” and I did sat “a bit spammy.” If it were bad,
          I'd have deleted it. Thanks Dior asking though. Your tool is actually
          pretty interesting.

  • interactivemix

    Its a nice graphic with well thought out aspects to it, but I am uncomfortable with lt leading up to the strategic goal.

    Surely it would be better to begin by defining what the criteria for success is, and how that should be measured in exactly the same way as you would define any marketing strategy.

    From that point you would work backwards through your model to inform yourself and then finally select the tactical approaches you need to accomplish the goal you have set yourself.

    I think if you plan in the way your model is currently set then there is a danger that you spend too much time dealing with tactics and have no firm goal in mind, possibly with the result that a lot of interaction takes place but nothing is actually achieved.

    I hope that doesn't come across as too slamming because I think you do have something here I just think you are starting it from the wrong end.

    Aaron Savage
    Interactive Mix Limited
    http://www.interative-mix.com

  • interactivemix

    Its a nice graphic with well thought out aspects to it, but I am uncomfortable with lt leading up to the strategic goal.

    Surely it would be better to begin by defining what the criteria for success is, and how that should be measured in exactly the same way as you would define any marketing strategy.

    From that point you would work backwards through your model to inform yourself and then finally select the tactical approaches you need to accomplish the goal you have set yourself.

    I think if you plan in the way your model is currently set then there is a danger that you spend too much time dealing with tactics and have no firm goal in mind, possibly with the result that a lot of interaction takes place but nothing is actually achieved.

    I hope that doesn't come across as too slamming because I think you do have something here I just think you are starting it from the wrong end.

    Aaron Savage
    Interactive Mix Limited
    http://www.interative-mix.com

    • No problem Aaron and thanks for the push back. I don't advocate
      starting with tactics and working your way up. I only meant to say
      that if you're in the middle of business as usual trying to define a
      strategic plan, you CAN look at your tactics and what they accomplish,
      what those initiatives collectively do in terms of objectives and then
      what they ladder up to as a goal.

      Ideally, you work goal downward, but not everyone starts from scratch.
      Most of us are in the middle of our routines when we get challenged
      with these type of things. This is a way to use what you're doing to
      determine what you should be … so long as it matches with a goal
      that makes sense.

      Thanks for forcing me to clarify.

      • interactivemix

        I take your point but I am still not 100% comfortable advocating that people would start from any point other than a strategic goal. Have you got some case studies you can share where working from tactics upwards to create a goal was the right thing to do with good results at the end of it?

        When I talk to clients (I am based in London UK BTW so I accept that things may be different), if I started from any other point from a strategy and set goals, I would be laughed out of the office and dismissed as someone who wasn't a serious marketer. I suspect that the reason a lot of social media executions are difficult to sell to clients is because they are not served up in a strategically important way to clients which makes it difficult for them to agree to.

        Its part of a wider discussion that is going on all over the web about digital agencies in general moving away from a tactical approach and taking on a strategic role to enable clients to see them as lead agencies. If we as digital agencies are able to do this and achieve that 'top table' position then budgets don't just open up they go stratospheric.

        I know I am wandering off point a little but feel free to check out our blog or look at our tweets and you will start to get the idea. If you have the time I would appreciate your comments.

        http://www.interactive-mix.com/wordpress/?p=79

        • Actually, I'm in the midst of writing a strategic plan now that serves
          as a bit of a case study. But I do want to clarify – most of your
          strategic goals are going to be determined by the over-arching
          business strategy or marketing strategy. I don't think you can start
          with no goals. The tactics determining the goals would be the tail
          wagging the dog. But in order to write a solid strategy document and
          plan, sometimes you have to define what you think your goals are and
          then let the tactics and strategies you're involved in prove them out.
          I would defer to changing the tactics rather than the goals, but if
          you look at it in a non-linear fashion … and strategic plans are
          seldom written linearly where tactics don't start until the plan is
          written … what you're doing now will help you understand how you
          shape where you're going.

          Long-winded way of saying this: A current plan I'm writing went this
          way – The three main goals were established. We tried to develop
          measurable objectives and strategies that ladder up. In most cases, we
          were able to fill out the meat of the plan. In a few cases, though, we
          were stretching to make sense of our current activities relative to
          our future plans. So we started working up from the tactics and
          instead of saying, “What tactics will help us execute this strategy?”
          We asked, “What strategy is realized by performing these tactics.”

          If the strategy we came up with fit into our objectives and goal, we
          kept it. If it didn't, we killed that particular project.

          This particular plan was the first social media strategic plan written
          for the organization which had been executing projects for a couple of
          years. There was just not strategic meaning or direction for the
          projects. We were trying to fit the here and now into the future
          plans. And the bottom-up approach helped.

          Does that help at all? Thanks for the push back. I appreciate the
          discourse. It helps all of our thinking.

  • Thanks Clark. Listening would be the process that determines customer
    insight. Whether it's formal research or social media monitoring, it's
    all about listening. And thanks for the links. I'm an avid fan of both
    eMarketer and Jeremiah. Appreciate the additional references.

  • Great post. Just curious:

    Which category does listening (via social media) fall under? To my mind, it's really the first key ingredient to developing any social media strategy. Knowing how you're going to deliver content with the tools, knowing how your message needs to be tailored for specific mediums, knowing what you're doing right — both from a marketing perspective and from a product/customer service perspective — are all much easier done if a business is listening properly. It's interesting how few businesses actually use resources to track what customers are saying about the brand online. According to a recent eMarketer newsletter article (full disclosure: I work for them — so no wonder this article came to mind first), customers are literally demanding that brands communicate better with them online.

    http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1007356

    Anyhow, @jowyang has a great rundown of social listening strategy here:

    http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2009/11/10/e

    • Thanks Clark. Listening would be the process that determines customer
      insight. Whether it's formal research or social media monitoring, it's
      all about listening. And thanks for the links. I'm an avid fan of both
      eMarketer and Jeremiah. Appreciate the additional references.

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  • Nice framework. Suggest you add a fifth circle “Operations”. SM success depends upon coordinated and improvisational interactions – internally and externally – in proactive and reactive modes. A big part of my SM practice is helping my marketing clients forge cooperative relationships with their customer service, IT, ecommerce and other departmental counterparts.

    • Excellent ideas there, Keith. Thanks for that. Perhaps there should be
      some lines drawn, connecting everything, that represent operations?
      Thoughts?

      • Keith Gerr

        yeah – one of my first thoughts on yer model was on somehow showing the operational relationships between the circles. maybe add a circle right-smack-dab in the middle: “cross-functional skill-sets”? Maybe it's gunna need some animation – I see growing lines :)

  • Wow, Jason, well done! There are still many out there (brands, bosses) who fear social and I believe this will help distill it into a more manageable approach.

    It also speaks to the need for social strategy and planning to be done by teams that have intimate knowledge of the brands – not by an outside group that swoops in and says “hey, you need a Facebook page! we'll build ya one!”

    • Thanks, Stephanie. Appreciate the vote of confidence.

  • It is nice to see that some intense thought was put into this post. I've seen many that have not lived up to the billing they portray. That said, I like the fact that you've addressed the fact that there is no canned solution for business. The Marketing mix is driven by the consumer. Where they reside, what media forms resonate with them and the strength of the marketing message. Planning and knowing the audience have always been tops in my book. Well done.

    • Thank you for saying so, David. Much appreciated.

  • Great article, I really enjoyed it.

  • This is a great diagram and very useful as I am in the beginning stages of developing my company's social media strategy. I find the battle I have to fight over and over again is, I'm being told to jump in and create Facebook and twitter accounts that I'm not ready for. I want to do all the listening and research that is recommended, but when you are working for people who don't understand social media and they want results ASAP, I'm finding I am forced to compromise and start putting things in place before I would prefer. The good thing, this has allowed me to build an audience for when we are ready to start rolling out campaigns. My social media strategy has worked out to be: listen- goals- strategy- implement- measure with audience building all along the way. So far we have been fine and I have been happy with the results, but I wish I had a perfect world to build the strategy.

    • Thanks Annie. You're hitting on a problem area for many people. To do
      strategy right, you have to take your time with it, invest in
      listening and research, etc. But still, the higher-ups want results
      and want them faster than they really should get them. We're all
      fighting that battle in one way or another. I love your listen – goals
      – strategy – implement – measure process. And yes, audience building
      takes place all the time. Keep up the good work and let us know about
      your successes!

  • Great food for thought, Jason. While not the starting point, I think understanding Community Behavior actually represents the biggest share of social media success. I assume this area of your model also includes how people interact, share and communicate specifically with a particular organization, so that this would be where measurement takes place.

    The information gleaned through measuring and analyzing Community Behavior is part of the feedback loop that forms the basis for future social media efforts/success. So to build on your statement, if Consumer Insight is the driver, understanding Community Behavior is the engine. Interested in what others think on this.

    • Thanks Kellye. I like your analogy. I guess that would make the tools
      the car? Heh. Appreciate the insight. Hopefully others will take it
      and respond as well.

  • kmskala

    Isn't this the same model that we should be using for traditional marketing & communications as well?

    Know your product/brand.
    Know your customers.
    Know how to reach them.
    Know what to do once you reach them.

    As complicated and confusing as people seem to this social is, the core functions are simply extensions of what works in other channels and platforms.

    • You're absolutely right, Kasey. I like to say that none of this rocket
      surgery. Unfortunately, we almost always need to be reminded of what
      we already know to get past what we think we don't. I guess that's my
      job here. Thanks for the comment.

  • Thanks Heather. This model is meant specifically for social media,
    which should integrate and fit into a larger marketing strategy. If
    you broke each marketing discipline down by category (social media,
    public relations, customer relationship management, advertising,
    Internet/digital marketing, etc.) they could each have similar
    spheres. Take the resulting strategies, integrate them together into a
    seamless and complimentary marketing strategy which then ladders up to
    and helps accomplish the overall business strategy and you have
    yourself the perfect plan. Make sense?

  • Thanks Heather. This model is meant specifically for social media,
    which should integrate and fit into a larger marketing strategy. If
    you broke each marketing discipline down by category (social media,
    public relations, customer relationship management, advertising,
    Internet/digital marketing, etc.) they could each have similar
    spheres. Take the resulting strategies, integrate them together into a
    seamless and complimentary marketing strategy which then ladders up to
    and helps accomplish the overall business strategy and you have
    yourself the perfect plan. Make sense?

  • Jason, you give a detailed and well thought out picture for developing social media strategies, however it feels like you're overlooking one important component. Social media is based on conversation and a key part of conversing is listening. To get meaningful consumer insight, you can spend big bucks doing the “audience research, profiling and various graphics (demo, psycho and techno)” you describe, but some of the best stuff you're going to get can come through SM listening. As Scott Monty, Morgan Johnston, and Frank Eliason do. SM is a new breed of PR/Marketing and one of the big stumbling blocks for companies is trying to implement a SM strategy using conventional marketing processes. Doesn't work.

    • Thanks Linda. I assure you it's not overlooked. A large portion of the
      consumer insight comes from listening. The process isn't exactly
      linear. Consumer insight can (and sometimes should) come from formal
      research, but your consumer insights are also shaped by your listening
      and participating in the space. Conventional marketing processes do
      work if you apply them to the way today's audiences interact with the
      brand and each other. While I'm the first to complain that focus
      groups and sampling are less statistically predictive of consumers
      behavior than we've been led to believe over the years, good, old
      fashioned research does, in fact, give you a better broad picture of
      what your target consumers, or even identified brand loyalists, look
      like. Monitoring what people say about you online only quantifies the
      opinions of those willing to speak about you online. It doesn't
      account for the other 99%+ of the population (using Forrester's
      participation ladder and measures). Good, old fashioned research gets
      closer.

      And I can assure you, Scott Monty, Morgan Johnston and Frank Eliason
      would likely agree (hopefully they'll chime in) … the more
      information I can get about my audience when developing a strategy,
      the better.

      Thanks for the thoughts.

      • I would agree that there's a certain level of authenticity and street-level credence that comes with social media listening. We just have to keep in mind that lots of this is anecdotal – directional, at best, but not necessarily predictive of the masses.

        But hasn't it always been that researchers have colored quantitative research with qualitative research? The verbatims and other commentary bring to life the numbers. There's no reason that can't apply here as well.

        My point is that it's not an all-or-nothing approach any more. It's about integrating the channels and understanding the relative strengths and weaknesses of each.

        • Thanks for the add-in Scott. Figured you'd stop by. Appreciate it.

  • heatherwhaling

    Jason, I love this model. I think it encapsulates the main areas in an easy-to-follow visual. One question: Where do you see the integration of online and offline marketing efforts falling into this? There are some companies that are so focused on social media — and other online initiatives — that they've abandoned, or downplayed, “offline” (for lack of a better work) efforts. I tend to think that traditional and new marketing tactics would be that much stronger if they were strategically integrated, instead of being two separate entities. Would love your perspective.

    Heather (@prtini)

    • Thanks Heather. This model is meant specifically for social media,
      which should integrate and fit into a larger marketing strategy. If
      you broke each marketing discipline down by category (social media,
      public relations, customer relationship management, advertising,
      Internet/digital marketing, etc.) they could each have similar
      spheres. Take the resulting strategies, integrate them together into a
      seamless and complimentary marketing strategy which then ladders up to
      and helps accomplish the overall business strategy and you have
      yourself the perfect plan. Make sense?

      • heatherwhaling

        Yup, makes sense to me. Thanks for answering. :)

  • ronnid

    I'm in my last year of undergraduate studies in communication, specifically public relations. One of my main projects this semester is a massive research paper on social media strategies' success in public relations. This theory speaks volumes toward what I have been researching and crafting together myself. It's an excellent model! From a students prospective, it shows how each segment work together to create a successful strategy. Worthy of textbooks – it's a great, simple way to understand the base of social media strategies.

    • Wow. That's a high compliment. Thank you so much. And if you know any
      text book authors who want to use it, let me know!

  • Excellent model, Jason! It strikes me that this approach pulls a very important resource often treated by marketers as an afterthought–Customer Service (or Consumer Affairs)–upstream and, ideally, into the center of the model. In 2009, a top-notch Consumer Affairs team empowered to optimize the brand experience for consumers will be informed by and ready to leverage the four areas you describe, thereby gaining or retaining brand loyalists. This adds up to one more reason why brand marketers should pay much more attention to the insights, issues, and opportunities that their CS/CA team offers, based on direct engagement with consumers from the “heart” of the model you present.

    • Thanks Pete. I've always said that the difference between traditional
      marketing and social media marketing is that traditional is product-
      centric while social media is consumer-centric. This certainly matches
      up with what you're describing. Thanks for the comment.

  • I like your article, and I think that there are some Social Media professionals that should read and consider this way of thinking.

    In my business we do a little more off line marketing along with social media (We do Experiential Marketing) and many of the same principles apply. People are used to being advertised to. When you create an experience, if it seems more like an advertorial experience rather than a brand experience it has less impact and response.

    The difference in our business is the tools that we use. But we have to have an understanding of how and where people connect. I agree, research generally is underfunded, and it is from good research that we get the best ideas.

  • I like your article, and I think that there are some Social Media professionals that should read and consider this way of thinking.

    In my business we do a little more off line marketing along with social media (We do Experiential Marketing) and many of the same principles apply. People are used to being advertised to. When you create an experience, if it seems more like an advertorial experience rather than a brand experience it has less impact and response.

    The difference in our business is the tools that we use. But we have to have an understanding of how and where people connect. I agree, research generally is underfunded, and it is from good research that we get the best ideas.

    • Thanks Daniel. I guess there are some good correlations between this
      model and experiential marketing. I really like that notion. Thanks
      for chiming in. I'll have to give that some more thought.

  • beley

    I think you've got a really well-rounded model here. On the consumer insights area, I think social media tools are actually helping smaller companies gather data about customers (and potential customers) much more affordably than ever before. Forrester and other research companies charge so much for stock reports, and that's not even talking about doing custom research.

    New social media tools (like Radian6) are able to give marketers a little insight into customer behavior, trends, satisfaction, and maybe even help forecast a little.

    Granted, it's not a replacement for hard-core market research but between the freely available information you can cobble together and some of the newer social media reporting tools, it could be enough for small businesses to get an edge over their competitors with information that used to only be available to the “big boys.”

    I guess the Customer Insight and Community Behavior spheres are just as related as any other two.

    At any rate, it's an excellent model and one I'll probably be referencing at some point! (and I'll be sure to give you ample credit when I do).

    • Thanks B. Appreciate the compliments.