Social Web


Conversation Prism

The Goal

“I understand the growing power of social media and we can build our brand and cultivate customer relationships through it.”

The Reality

“We haven’t posted anything on our blog in over a month, and no one wants to write anything for it anymore anyway. We are at a loss as to how to use new media and social networking. No engagement on our Facebook page, we haven’t added a LinkedIn friend in months, and we have somehow forgotten our Twitter account password.”

The Conversation 

The fragmented and growing world of social media is increasingly important to virtually all businesses today. But knowing where to put your effort, determining how much effort is enough is a daunting task. This image from Brian Solis and Jess Bachman gives us an idea how big (and confusing) the world of social media can be. But that is where the “conversations” are taking place. And we want our brand to be the topic of the conversation.

Seth Godin recently wrote about three typical business models: geography-based, commodity-based, and community-based. The geography-based business is real-estate driven. The local farm is all about geography, as is a pharmacy and a pizza joint. McDonald’s was focused on geography as they grew.

As information began to spread, a second kind of business came along. The commodity-based business says, “we sell what they sell, but cheaper.” The commodity business requires that information be available and that you’re able to actually produce a standard item cheap enough to win at this.

And the third type, the modern type, the type that’s the most difficult to build and the most stable once built is the community-based business. You can read his article here. As he points out, all three structures can work, for schools, for non-profits, for companies big and small. But each is its own style, with its own structures and measurements and strategies.

Where To Start?

Your social media efforts should vary based on your chosen business model:

Facebook

Google+

Twitter

Foursquare

LinkedIn

Photo-based

Blog/Forum

Geography

X

X

X

X

Commodity

X

X

X

Community

X

X

X

X

X

X

Facebook presence and activity levels can vary a lot depending on your model. A Google+ presence is great for local search and can help your search ranking. Twitter is great for local deals or specials and is good for building community if well-focused. Foursquare or other location based check-in services are good for local businesses. LinkedIn can help highlight knowledge, skills & expertise. Photo based services (Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr) are appropriate for visual services or products. Blogs or micro-blogs and forums are helpful in building and maintaining a sense of community.

Some businesses are hybrids or attempt to use all three models. Amazon clearly has a commodity model, but has successfully built a community model as well and is trying to break into the geography model by offering local delivery.  WalMart has grown using a hybrid geographycommodity model. Whole Foods uses a community model.

Give some thought to which model best describes your efforts, and then think about how your customer will find out about you. What priority should you put on “search” vs social media vs traditional marketing? Which would best serve you and your customers?

Think about it. Then talk to us. We can help.