Posts Tagged ‘social networks’

Evolving the Social Media Marketing Ecosystem

In January this year I put forward my thoughts on the social media marketing ecosystem in which we operate in 2010. It looked like this:

While this relatively complex model is great to help shape the thinking of organizations wrestling with a plethora of products, it’s also a little complex for organizations without those massive resources. These organizations, which comprise the majority of the market, just don’t have the staff, resources or time to deal with such a complex set of properties.

So, I went back to the drawing board – not to re-think the model, but to boil it down to one simple enough for the majority of people to digest. The result: a simplified model of the social media marketing ecosystem:

All of the complex dynamics within the original system are still accounted for within this simplified diagram, but the framework as a whole is much easier to digest.

In addition to earned, paid and owned media (summarized as “company website” and properties on other sites), this model has an additional sphere on top of Sean Corcoran’s framework, on top of which the original ecosystem model was developed – social networks. This raises the question – should Corcoran’s model have an additional row? What might it look like? (thanks to Joe Thornley for prompting this line of thinking)

It’s a tough call. For one thing, the “social media” row might look a lot like the other rows in many ways; borrowing aspects from owned and earned media in particular. For another, any definition of the role of social media is surely going to be controversial.

I’m a glutton for punishment though, so I put together a starting point – Corcoran’s model, revised with a new row for social media.:

Does social media deserve its own row here, or does its rapid evolution over the past few years simply mean it is intertwined among the other media types in today’s communications environment?

What do you think?

Four Lessons From PleaseRobMe.com

The social media scene has been buzzing this week with stories about PleaseRobMe.com, a new site which aggregates publicly shared posts from shiny new location-based service Foursquare. The aim of the site is to draw attention to the risks posed by posting your current location publicly.

PleaseRobMe.com

While the way the site goes about things is deliberately distasteful (it wouldn’t grab many headlines with “Out And About” as a name, after all), there’s a useful message behind the obnoxiousness. As the site points out, “So here we are; on one end we’re leaving lights on when we’re going on a holiday, and on the other we’re telling everybody on the internet we’re not home.”

After chatting with a journalist today who says she’s been seeing more and more reports of people cancelling their Foursquare accounts as they realize the implications of the service, I reflected that it’s a good time to consider a few privacy basics:

  1. Think it through. Would you share your home address with a stranger on the street? No? Then don’t do it online. Also, if you check into your home address on Foursquare, you need your head examined. As the makers of PleaseRobMe.com said for an interview with WebProNews, “We think it’s important to realize that something you post on Twitter isn’t necessarily private. Everybody is able to read it, unless you protect your messages.”
  2. Choose your friends carefully. More so than on some other sites, “friending” people on location-based services gives them real access to your life. I have a couple of hundred of friend requests on Foursquare which I’ll probably never accept because I don’t know the person requesting the connection. Think before you accept everyone.
  3. Find the right service for you. While Foursquare doesn’t have too many privacy settings (though you can turn off the auto-tweet function), only your friends can see your updates. If that’s not enough for you, other services like BrightKite (as RWW points out) offer more rigorous controls.
  4. Don’t blow it out of proportion. If you go to work every day; the regular, predictable period when you’re out is probably much more of a target for burglars than your pint at the local pub (especially if you aren’t actually attached at the hip to your partner and they don’t automatically follow you everywhere you go).

What do you think? Are these kinds of stories changing your opinion of location-based services or are these concerns overblown?

The 2010 Social Media Marketing Ecosystem

Forrester Research analyst Sean Corcoran recently posted an insightful breakdown of some of the differences between owned media, paid media and earned media. Given the ongoing convergence I’m seeing between different communications disciplines which I’m seeing on a daily basis, this got me thinking.

Owned, paid and earned media breakdown

The thought process ultimately led me to sketch out my take on the social media marketing ecosystem in which corporations operate – shown below.

This is my take on the ecosystem within which the new wave of hybrid marketing agencies like ours need to operate as we enter 2010.

Social Media Marketing Ecosystem

Social Media Marketing Ecosystem Legend

(Update: yes, I know there are no ads on Flickr. It’s illustrative.)

This is pretty complex, so I’ve broken it down into different system elements below. Note though, that the different elements work best when we succeed in breaking out of communications silos and integrating our communications strategies.

A few notes up-front

  • As complex as this image is, it’s still a drastic over-simplification. There are many more linkages than are displayed; I’ve simplified to the graphic is still readable.
  • The importance of each social network will vary depending on the organizational context – target markets; objectives, etc.
  • The ecosystem is constantly changing. A few months down the line, the big four social networks may have changed.
  • There are many, many other social networks, forums and other sites not directly shown here. They’re grouped into “Other” but may in fact play a significant role in your activities, depending on your company.
  • This ecosystem is externally-focused. A similar system doubtless exists for corporations’ internal communications.
  • MSM stands for “mainstream media.”
  • Each of the different elements can both act as a focal point and/or support other tactics, depending on how they are used within an integrated strategy.
  • The following sections each filter certain elements from the overall ecosystem above, to provide a simpler view of the owned, paid and earned elements of the system.

Corporate Social Media Ecosystem (Owned Media)

Corporate Social Media Ecosystem

Key elements of the ideal corporate social media ecosystem:

  • Hub and spoke: Adopts a ‘hub and spoke’ system centred around a corporate social media hub, whose form will depend on the organization.
  • Tiered hub and spoke: Each social network may have its own hub and spoke system, if necessary. For example, you may have a primary corporate page on Facebook supported by several applications and product-specific pages.
  • Integrated: The hub is as integrated into the corporate website as possible.
  • Fewer Microsites: Todd Defren and Maggie Fox both make compelling cases for companies to stop and think before investing in microsites. I agree. They may have their place in this ecosystem, but shifting to a social network or building on top of your flexible social media hub may make more sense.
  • Mobile is ubiquitous: I considered including mobile as a separate component in the ecosystem, but decided against it. The web is becoming device-agnostic. Companies need to consider mobile content and applications as part of every aspect of their corporate web presence.
  • Inter-linking: The social media hub links to all external corporate social media properties and profiles.
  • SEO-powered: Search engine optimization (driven, in part, by social media activities) helps to drive traffic to the corporate website, social media hub and external social media properties and profiles. This goes for both the corporate site and separate properties. SEO could fall into any of these buckets, but for the sake of simplicity I’ve included it in this part of the breakdown.
  • Two-way flow: The information flow around social media elements is (depending on the organizational context, of course) two way.

Corporate Mainstream Media Ecosystem (Earned Media)

Mainstream Media Ecosystem

Key elements of the mainstream media portion of the ecosystem:

  • On and offline: Mainstream media exist both online and offline (many are both). Either way, they can drive significant traffic within the social media marketing ecosystem.
  • Two-way: Ideally, the information flow with mainstream media is two-way in two ways:
    • Earned media drives quality traffic to your properties; your properties can generate stories within the mainstream media (both positive and negative)
    • One of your goals should be a constructive dialogue with mainstream media which enables you to achieve your goals while making the journalists’ lives easier.
  • Multi-destination: Earned media coverage will primarily drive traffic to your corporate site in the short term. However, earned media coverage can raise broader awareness, thus driving traffic to your external properties and social media profiles (especially over time within a sustained media relations program).

Corporate Advertising Ecosystem (Paid Media)

Corporate Advertising System

Features of the corporate advertising ecosystem:

  • Social and non-social: Advertising takes place both within social media sites, but also within other online properties (search engines are a prominent example, as is CPM/CPC advertising on mainstream sites).
  • Interwoven: While paid online media stands alone within the social media marketing ecosystem (represented here by “SEM,” it is also interwoven throughout many other elements.
  • Multi-destination: Much of your advertising may drive traffic to your corporate website. However, advertising can also support your social media efforts by raising awareness and driving people to your social media profiles and properties.
  • Multi-faceted: “Ads” within many social networks can mean many things. Facebook, for example, your advertising activities might extend beyond regular Facebook ads and into “appvertisements.”

Make sense?

Together these different elements combine to form the more complex (yet still simplified) ecosystem displayed at the top of this post.

This is clearly far from complete. I’m curious as to your thoughts – let me know what you think in the comments and let’s refine this together.

Social Gaming Hitting A New Level

Xbox LiveLast week, Microsoft rolled out a new update to its Xbox 360 dashboard. Among other changes, the update added Twitter and Facebook functionality to “Gold” users of its service. CNET tells us that “millions” are already using these new services.

The new add-ons allow users to do the usual things that you would expect to do with Twitter and Facebook – browse profiles, tweet, etc, but they also do one very important and very powerful thing, too:

They allow you to see which of your friends on these services are using Xbox Live.

Why is this a big deal? Because, if you’re anything like me, you’re tired of logging on to spend a few minutes playing your favourite game online and being confronted with a bunch of kids yelling vile insults at you. Thanks to those types, I rarely (read: never) play online with people I don’t know.

The problem with that philosophy, though, is that it can be hard to find which of your friends uses the Xbox Live service, leaving the online experience feeling somewhat empty. With these new features, you can scan your Twitter follower and Facebook friends lists to find your fellow gamers, and quickly and easily connect to them.

It’s another step in the merging of social media and social networking into the things we already do online.

  • Mass media websites have incorporated social media tools such as RSS and commenting for a while;
  • Movie producers have used social media features during movie and DVD launches (Fight Club is a great example);
  • Now, social media is further encroaching on one of the largest entertainment industries around – computer gaming.

My bet: in a couple of years, this kind of feature will be so ingrained that people won’t think of it as a “social media” feature – it’ll just be a given when they turn on their console.

What do you think?

Youth Vs Adults: Strong Ties/Weak Networks

The kids are all about social media. They’re publishing content, streaming video and Twittering wildly. Right?

Wrong.

Just as social media practitioners use and view these tools differently to the general population, we need to remember that young people use these tools differently to us. They’re informed about the tools but while they’re highly active online, we we can’t just assume that “social media tools” are the way to reach them.

Young people ≠ adults

This weekend I attended the inaugural PodCamp London in southern Ontario where Jonathan Kochis ran a fascinating session on Youth, Social Media and the Web, running through some key research around the ways young people use social media. 

A few key points of difference between young people and adults:

  • 88 per cent of teens have participated in online social activity, however their use is driven by friendship and existing connections.
  • Many adults use social media tools to organize events; to build their networks; to promote themselves or their work. Teens don’t care about any of those uses.
  • Teens skew towards MySpace and Facebook. Tools like LinkedIn (business networking) and Twitter skew much older.
  • Young people can see Twitter as Facebook’s news feed with most of the features stripped out. As a result, few teens use it.
  • Tools like LinkedIn and Twitter require an investment in time to gain gratification (establishing a network, creating value for others, delayed rewards). Meanwhile, teens look for instant gratification.

Talking with Jonathan and others after the session, I reflected that much of the difference in perspective, along with these other factors, comes down to the nature of our networks.

Professional adults (successful ones, anyway) look to build their networks. They’re constantly meeting new people, learning, and sharing knowledge. We develop new connections all the time, but many of these are loose – passing meetings at a conference, conversations at parties, conversations over coffee or dinner. Over time we work to make some become stronger, but most remain loose. We have what I call “thin networks.”

Young people, meanwhile, don’t care about developing a “network.” They care about their friends – what they are doing, where they are, what they’re planning to do at the weekend. They have a small network, built on existing relationships and full of strong ties.

Twitter ≠ Facebook

This may explain why Twitter skews much older than Facebook.

Of course, Facebook started with the university crowd which explains part of the younger skew, but it also allows more in-depth connection with people. You can see everything your friends are doing – the events they’re attending, the photos they’re posting, the videos they’re watching and the people they’re talking to.

Twitter, meanwhile, is much more transitory. Conversations come and go, as do connections (it’s much easier to follow someone on Twitter than to add a friend on Facebook). It’s very top-level and, on the surface, one-dimensional (just short messages; no multimedia aside from links to it). For people with small networks who are already closely connected to their friends, Twitter doesn’t (currently) solve a problem. 

This isn’t a bad thing. What’s more, it’s certainly not a universal picture – there are certainly plenty of young people using Twitter. However, in general, I think it’s a useful reminder for us that “we” are not “they” and we can’t generalize our use of social media tools to the broader population.

So what?

Why should public relations pros and marketers care about this?

Because it has a clear and important effect on our communications programs. Twitter may be taking over the world, but only in some demographics. Meanwhile, if you’re trying to reach young people through Twitter or through an approach relying on volume of connections rather than quality of connections, you may be disappointed.

What other differences do you see between young peoples’ and adults’ use of social media?

(Side note: congratulations to Bill, Will, Titus and everyone else involved in PodCamp London. Great job, guys)