Spectrums of Social Media for Marketing

colors This is just a little something that I started thinking about yesterday while preparing for a webinar with John Stone from CrossTech Partners coming up tomorrow. It just hit me while discussing how the various social media tools apply to businesses seeking relationships with customers (either b2b or b2c). I wanted to put this out as a starting point to a thought.

I believe that as marketers seek to use social media and social networking software to do business with people on the web that there is a spectrum to their engagement efforts.

On the far left, banner ads. Next would be building a small group somewhere, like on Facebook. To the right of that might be blogs and other created media. Content marketing is what I’d call that region, where you build interesting and compelling media as a way to encourage engagement and interaction. To the right of content marketing, at the far end of the spectrum, is relationship marketing.

Relationship marketing is where I’d put things like community managers and active engagement, listening, and robust interexchange between customers and businesses. Not just with the marketing department, but with people in all different parts of the organization.

They range in difficulty to properly execute from left to right, too. I think the costs in money and resources probably scale in that direction, too. It’s cheaper to buy a banner ad than to hire a community manager.

The results go in that direction, as do the risks.

Banner ads — small groups — content marketing — relationship marketing.

What do you think?

Photo credit, kevin dooley

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  • http://www.socialmediaworx.com Ryan Moede

    I’d generally agree with this as well, and I think the reports we saw yesterday in the WSJ and by Forrester are both testament to the complex challenges brands have in attempting to engage in relationship marketing.

  • http://www.socialmediaworx.com Ryan Moede

    I’d generally agree with this as well, and I think the reports we saw yesterday in the WSJ and by Forrester are both testament to the complex challenges brands have in attempting to engage in relationship marketing.

  • http://foolishhuman.com Neil Gorman

    This made me think of the comic book writers Brian M. Bendis & Warren Ellis. Both wristers have become a major players / powerhouses in the comic book industry by creating two tings.

    1. Compelling content, in the forms of well written comic books.

    2. Compelling communities around their comics, where the people who read them can communicate with one and other.

    Bendis = http://www.606studios.com/bendisboard/
    Ellis = http://freakangels.com/whitechapel/

    Also, Bendis and Ellis are both ACTIVE in the communities that they have created. They hang out there, and they talk there. (Ellis more so than Bendis).

    Rather than only hire a mamager to take care of the community, these content / product creators have taken on that role. I see this as both good and bad from a marketing prespective.

    The good is that the creators are more “plugged into” their customer base. In this case their readership.

    It is bad because it creates a groupie affect. Meaning that no one wants to pubicly disagree with either Bendis or Ellis, because it would cuse them to lose face in the community.

    In the end:
    creators being involved in a community = good.
    professional community managers = good.
    professional community managers + creator involvment = double plus good.

    Peace.
    -N

  • http://neilgorman.org Neil Gorman

    This made me think of the comic book writers Brian M. Bendis & Warren Ellis. Both wristers have become a major players / powerhouses in the comic book industry by creating two tings.

    1. Compelling content, in the forms of well written comic books.

    2. Compelling communities around their comics, where the people who read them can communicate with one and other.

    Bendis = http://www.606studios.com/bendisboard/
    Ellis = http://freakangels.com/whitechapel/

    Also, Bendis and Ellis are both ACTIVE in the communities that they have created. They hang out there, and they talk there. (Ellis more so than Bendis).

    Rather than only hire a mamager to take care of the community, these content / product creators have taken on that role. I see this as both good and bad from a marketing prespective.

    The good is that the creators are more “plugged into” their customer base. In this case their readership.

    It is bad because it creates a groupie affect. Meaning that no one wants to pubicly disagree with either Bendis or Ellis, because it would cuse them to lose face in the community.

    In the end:
    creators being involved in a community = good.
    professional community managers = good.
    professional community managers + creator involvment = double plus good.

    Peace.
    -N

  • Andrea Canfield

    I just returned from a conference with catalog people. The sponsor of the event – in attempting to stay on top of trends – is offering behavioral ad sponsors as their next big thing. I said, yeah that might have worked 5 years ago but business is no longer about consumers it’s about people. And this expensive idea is a a bad idea.

    So – community first – we are by nature pack animals and we bring that nature to the web. Content – absolutely I need relevance – badly.

    And – right about now I need a good cup of coffee.

  • Andrea Canfield

    I just returned from a conference with catalog people. The sponsor of the event – in attempting to stay on top of trends – is offering behavioral ad sponsors as their next big thing. I said, yeah that might have worked 5 years ago but business is no longer about consumers it’s about people. And this expensive idea is a a bad idea.

    So – community first – we are by nature pack animals and we bring that nature to the web. Content – absolutely I need relevance – badly.

    And – right about now I need a good cup of coffee.

  • http://www.internet-bard.com KatFrench

    The spectrum you’ve described works on a variety of levels:

    Lowest perceived risk to highest.
    Lowest investment of resources to highest.
    Shortest time frame to execute to longest.

    That said, some organizations are never going to benefit much from banners, and some are never going to be ready for relationship marketing.

    Also, some will latch onto blogging or content marketing well before they’re ready for small groups. In fact, I’m not sure that doesn’t happen more often than the other way around.

    Of course, you may not have implied a timeline of engagement by proposing a left to right spectrum, but that’s what I inferred. :)

  • http://www.internet-bard.com KatFrench

    The spectrum you’ve described works on a variety of levels:

    Lowest perceived risk to highest.
    Lowest investment of resources to highest.
    Shortest time frame to execute to longest.

    That said, some organizations are never going to benefit much from banners, and some are never going to be ready for relationship marketing.

    Also, some will latch onto blogging or content marketing well before they’re ready for small groups. In fact, I’m not sure that doesn’t happen more often than the other way around.

    Of course, you may not have implied a timeline of engagement by proposing a left to right spectrum, but that’s what I inferred. :)

  • http://www.mediabadger.com Webconomist

    I like the spectrum concept Chris. Good context.

    With the start of a “definition”does part of the question become “how much of a conversation does a business want to engage in?” It’s a big step I thunk, for a company to start going to the far right of the spectrum. It’s a leap and commitment. Takes top-level buy-in I think, for once started, it’s not easy to stop. Some thoughts.

  • http://www.mediabadger.com Webconomist

    I like the spectrum concept Chris. Good context.

    With the start of a “definition”does part of the question become “how much of a conversation does a business want to engage in?” It’s a big step I thunk, for a company to start going to the far right of the spectrum. It’s a leap and commitment. Takes top-level buy-in I think, for once started, it’s not easy to stop. Some thoughts.

  • http://diaryofareluctantblogger.com Maddie Grant

    Yes I agree this is a good way to think about it, although I think small groups is part of relationship marketing (small groups to larger public networks to fully hosted networks?) – then you get into different levels of spectrums… agh. Need. more. Coffee.

  • http://diaryofareluctantblogger.com Maddie Grant

    Yes I agree this is a good way to think about it, although I think small groups is part of relationship marketing (small groups to larger public networks to fully hosted networks?) – then you get into different levels of spectrums… agh. Need. more. Coffee.

  • http://www.gypsybandito.com CT Moore

    I like the sliding scale a lot, Chris. The only thing I’d disagree with is moving from left to right rather than right to left — but only for poetic reasons: it seems to me that since communism is traditionally left, that’s where the community managers should be, and since capitalism is on the right, that’s where the impersonal banner ads should go.

    It’s a moot point, though, ’cause your progression in engagement seems bang on.

  • http://www.gypsybandito.com CT Moore

    I like the sliding scale a lot, Chris. The only thing I’d disagree with is moving from left to right rather than right to left — but only for poetic reasons: it seems to me that since communism is traditionally left, that’s where the community managers should be, and since capitalism is on the right, that’s where the impersonal banner ads should go.

    It’s a moot point, though, ’cause your progression in engagement seems bang on.

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  • http://davidmullen.wordpress.com David Mullen

    Chris – Love the visual idea of thinking about it as a spectrum. I’d disagree on including the left end within the social media umbrella, though.

    I consider ad banners and the like as online advertising (OLA). The only thing social about it is that they sometimes show up on social media sites. Other than that, it’s just another brand sharing its message as a monologue instead of dialogue.

    Andrea – I agree that it’s about community, content and engagement. That’s actually what I wrote about in today’s post on my blog. Without community, it isn’t social.

  • http://davidmullen.wordpress.com David Mullen

    Chris – Love the visual idea of thinking about it as a spectrum. I’d disagree on including the left end within the social media umbrella, though.

    I consider ad banners and the like as online advertising (OLA). The only thing social about it is that they sometimes show up on social media sites. Other than that, it’s just another brand sharing its message as a monologue instead of dialogue.

    Andrea – I agree that it’s about community, content and engagement. That’s actually what I wrote about in today’s post on my blog. Without community, it isn’t social.

  • http://www.unjournalism.com Mike Keliher

    Makes sense overall, but it’s obviously quite a complex thing. In general, your left-to-right setup makes sense, but where do you put *bad* content marketing? To me, a terrible, short-sighted, pushy, salesy podcast is no better — no farther right on the spectrum — than a run of the mill banner ad.

    And, of course, there’s a lot more stuff to fill in on that spectrum, but I’m sure we can tackle that in a future post!

  • http://www.unjournalism.com Mike Keliher

    Makes sense overall, but it’s obviously quite a complex thing. In general, your left-to-right setup makes sense, but where do you put *bad* content marketing? To me, a terrible, short-sighted, pushy, salesy podcast is no better — no farther right on the spectrum — than a run of the mill banner ad.

    And, of course, there’s a lot more stuff to fill in on that spectrum, but I’m sure we can tackle that in a future post!

  • http://www.snobsolutions.com Josep Maria Sala

    Chris, I like the spectrum idea a lot.

    As David Mullen says, I would not include banners there, as to me it looks as one direction only. Maybe including the sales guy, interacting one-to-one with the customer as the less community oriented on one side and the rest of your spectrum to the other, small groups to content marketing to relationship marketing.

    Would be nice to see more opinions and have a chance to draw a visual representation of your idea.

  • http://www.snobsolutions.com Josep Maria Sala

    Chris, I like the spectrum idea a lot.

    As David Mullen says, I would not include banners there, as to me it looks as one direction only. Maybe including the sales guy, interacting one-to-one with the customer as the less community oriented on one side and the rest of your spectrum to the other, small groups to content marketing to relationship marketing.

    Would be nice to see more opinions and have a chance to draw a visual representation of your idea.

  • http://www.wholelotofnonsense.org Brad P. from NJ

    We do have a relationship marketing group in my company. That being said, it doesn’t employ community managers. It employs people who help create web sites that encourage people to sign up for direct mailings, virtual or in your mailbox.

    The group seems to cringe at the concept of 1:1 relationship. Of course, we’re a pharmaceutical company, we have a burden of reporting all kinds of information about our 1:1 contacts.

  • http://www.wholelotofnonsense.org Brad P. from NJ

    We do have a relationship marketing group in my company. That being said, it doesn’t employ community managers. It employs people who help create web sites that encourage people to sign up for direct mailings, virtual or in your mailbox.

    The group seems to cringe at the concept of 1:1 relationship. Of course, we’re a pharmaceutical company, we have a burden of reporting all kinds of information about our 1:1 contacts.

  • McGluski

    I like the spectrum idea. I think it shows the hierarchy of usefulness but can be taken further to show how the approaches can become more efficient if used jointly instead of in tandem or in parallel.

    Instead of a spectrum I think it can work like a funnel. Instead of having the different approaches lined up from left to right – all leading independently towards acquiring a customer – they can each instead funnel an audience to the community where the relationships get built. Along the edge of the funnel are things like banner ads, facebook and myspace networks etc – and they can all funnel potential customers towards the community built around content.

  • McGluski

    I like the spectrum idea. I think it shows the hierarchy of usefulness but can be taken further to show how the approaches can become more efficient if used jointly instead of in tandem or in parallel.

    Instead of a spectrum I think it can work like a funnel. Instead of having the different approaches lined up from left to right – all leading independently towards acquiring a customer – they can each instead funnel an audience to the community where the relationships get built. Along the edge of the funnel are things like banner ads, facebook and myspace networks etc – and they can all funnel potential customers towards the community built around content.

  • http://www.motiliti.com Beckett Gilchrist

    I completely agree. Generating qualified leads to a sale is a good thing.

    Check out this tactic:

    http://digitalapplejuice.com/marketing-in-a-digital-era/

    http://www.motiliti.com

  • http://www.motiliti.com Beckett Gilchrist

    I completely agree. Generating qualified leads to a sale is a good thing.

    Check out this tactic:

    http://digitalapplejuice.com/marketing-in-a-digital-era/

    http://www.motiliti.com

  • Nancy

    Hi Chris:
    I don’t know if you are in fact CC from podcamp, or if this is insanely obvious, or if you will be bummed out to receiving a superfluous comment, but…

    I just wanted to make sure you knew about DriveSavers.
    Drivesavers.com
    800.440.1904

    They are supposed to be the best hard drive rescuers in the galaxy.

    I just experienced the devastation of hard drive failure myself and in mourning.

    Best of luck. Emjoyed your passionate presentation (if that was you).

  • Nancy

    Hi Chris:
    I don’t know if you are in fact CC from podcamp, or if this is insanely obvious, or if you will be bummed out to receiving a superfluous comment, but…

    I just wanted to make sure you knew about DriveSavers.
    Drivesavers.com
    800.440.1904

    They are supposed to be the best hard drive rescuers in the galaxy.

    I just experienced the devastation of hard drive failure myself and in mourning.

    Best of luck. Emjoyed your passionate presentation (if that was you).

  • http://www.niapromotions.com Dana Pittman

    I agree with your spectrum and that it’s cheaper to purchase a banner ad than hiring a community manager; however, is it really cheaper when you look at the potential results when each is properly executed. Hiring a commmunity mananger my yield greater results (e.g., ROI) than placing a banner on a site hoping people will click through.

  • http://www.niapromotions.com Dana Pittman

    I agree with your spectrum and that it’s cheaper to purchase a banner ad than hiring a community manager; however, is it really cheaper when you look at the potential results when each is properly executed. Hiring a commmunity mananger my yield greater results (e.g., ROI) than placing a banner on a site hoping people will click through.

  • http://www.conversationalmediamarketing.com Paul Chaney

    I don’t know that I wouldn’t flip some things around a bit. It seems to me that content marketing could fall to the left of small groups. Regardless, I agree that community is where it’s at these days.

    The company I serve as marketing director has made a seismic shift away from display advertising (both print and online) in favor of content creation and social media participation.

    I don’t know that I necessarily agree with the cost estimation either. Keeping in mind that I come from a small business perspective, it’s cheaper for us to create content on our own Website and blog than it is to purchase media in the form of banner ads (and, yes, print). For example, we’re in the process of creating a couple of online communities to appeal to specific target markets. We’re using Ning and, even with some upgrades, the cost is minimal (A few hundred dollars per year). Mainly, it’s an investment of my time, which would be an expenditure either way.

  • http://www.conversationalmediamarketing.com Paul Chaney

    I don’t know that I wouldn’t flip some things around a bit. It seems to me that content marketing could fall to the left of small groups. Regardless, I agree that community is where it’s at these days.

    The company I serve as marketing director has made a seismic shift away from display advertising (both print and online) in favor of content creation and social media participation.

    I don’t know that I necessarily agree with the cost estimation either. Keeping in mind that I come from a small business perspective, it’s cheaper for us to create content on our own Website and blog than it is to purchase media in the form of banner ads (and, yes, print). For example, we’re in the process of creating a couple of online communities to appeal to specific target markets. We’re using Ning and, even with some upgrades, the cost is minimal (A few hundred dollars per year). Mainly, it’s an investment of my time, which would be an expenditure either way.

  • http://www.needish.com/people/emily Emily Williams

    @KatFrench I hadn’t thought of it in those ways, but you’re right. Thanks for bringing it up. Obviously the investment of resources point depends on the company – on the one hand paying the salary of a dedicated community manager over a year will probably cost more than one-time banner ads, but on the other having each employee spend some time on social media for no additional cost is cheaper than paying an external designer. But I do see your point.

    Personally I’ve found it interesting how my perspective on marketing has changed in just a couple months since starting to work as a community manager. Our own website, needish.com, has a lot of potential to be used as a social media tool – something I’d never thought of before! I previously saw it as a way to win clients but hadn’t considered the reputation-building aspect, whereas now I see that as a major selling-point.

  • http://www.needish.com/people/emily Emily Williams

    @KatFrench I hadn’t thought of it in those ways, but you’re right. Thanks for bringing it up. Obviously the investment of resources point depends on the company – on the one hand paying the salary of a dedicated community manager over a year will probably cost more than one-time banner ads, but on the other having each employee spend some time on social media for no additional cost is cheaper than paying an external designer. But I do see your point.

    Personally I’ve found it interesting how my perspective on marketing has changed in just a couple months since starting to work as a community manager. Our own website, needish.com, has a lot of potential to be used as a social media tool – something I’d never thought of before! I previously saw it as a way to win clients but hadn’t considered the reputation-building aspect, whereas now I see that as a major selling-point.

  • http://www.michellesblog.net Michelle Greer

    This is like comparing an account manager with a billboard. A billboard for the right business in the right spot can help you. It would be difficult to get more value out of it than an account manager though.

    Community managers allow businesses to execute some control over a message as well as gain feedback for future use. Community managers do not just advertise; they ask questions and get a pulse on their industry. It costs more than a banner ad you get a lot more out of it.

  • http://www.michellesblog.net Michelle Greer

    This is like comparing an account manager with a billboard. A billboard for the right business in the right spot can help you. It would be difficult to get more value out of it than an account manager though.

    Community managers allow businesses to execute some control over a message as well as gain feedback for future use. Community managers do not just advertise; they ask questions and get a pulse on their industry. It costs more than a banner ad you get a lot more out of it.

  • http://chrisbrogan.com chrisbrogan

    @Michelle – really interesting point. Maybe it’s too far afield. Except, is it? Wouldn’t marketers consider those things in the same spectrum, at least in digital. I mean, when considering the overall marketing strategy that is.

    Hmm. Good point.

    I’m really happy to see people talking about these things.

  • http://chrisbrogan.com chrisbrogan

    @Michelle – really interesting point. Maybe it’s too far afield. Except, is it? Wouldn’t marketers consider those things in the same spectrum, at least in digital. I mean, when considering the overall marketing strategy that is.

    Hmm. Good point.

    I’m really happy to see people talking about these things.

  • http://mikeproulx.typepad.com Mike Proulx

    Chris, like the conceptual layout of the spectrum. If difficulty & risk both increase as you move to the right, then I’d put “listening” towards the beginning/left of the spectrum as it’s easy for a company to get started and very low risk – are there really any risks with listening?

  • http://mikeproulx.typepad.com Mike Proulx

    Chris, like the conceptual layout of the spectrum. If difficulty & risk both increase as you move to the right, then I’d put “listening” towards the beginning/left of the spectrum as it’s easy for a company to get started and very low risk – are there really any risks with listening?

  • http://www.thesquigglyline.com/blog Steve Hopkins

    @Mike Proulx I agree about the listening. I think we can often be so keen to ‘engage’ that we forget to actually listen first to create actual engaging conversations. It’s not engagement if you just say what you wanted to say anyways.

    I’m from World Vision Australia, and we run the http://www.stir.org.au webpage. We have done banners, we have a huge forum with some 40k posts and have also have community campaigners from our advocacy team in the largest states in Australia, drumming up ‘on the ground support’ around global poverty alleviation.

    For us, this spectrum works well, except I think there is a barrier between content marketing and relationship management. We are trying to get our selves into a position where we are talking to people online, and then moving those conversations external to the web, where the ‘real’ action lives. This has happened recently, we’re we saved ourselves some $30k by calling out for volunteers at WYD. This is where Blogging and ‘content marketing’ creates an ROI. It has taken us 2+ years to build the stir community, but we are only now seeing the returns.

  • http://www.thesquigglyline.com/blog Steve Hopkins

    @Mike Proulx I agree about the listening. I think we can often be so keen to ‘engage’ that we forget to actually listen first to create actual engaging conversations. It’s not engagement if you just say what you wanted to say anyways.

    I’m from World Vision Australia, and we run the http://www.stir.org.au webpage. We have done banners, we have a huge forum with some 40k posts and have also have community campaigners from our advocacy team in the largest states in Australia, drumming up ‘on the ground support’ around global poverty alleviation.

    For us, this spectrum works well, except I think there is a barrier between content marketing and relationship management. We are trying to get our selves into a position where we are talking to people online, and then moving those conversations external to the web, where the ‘real’ action lives. This has happened recently, we’re we saved ourselves some $30k by calling out for volunteers at WYD. This is where Blogging and ‘content marketing’ creates an ROI. It has taken us 2+ years to build the stir community, but we are only now seeing the returns.

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  • http://ramirocaso2.wordpress.com Ramiro

    I think the problem with those that still are on the banner side of the spectrum is that the still believe in the “broadcast / blockbuster” model of marketing. They still believe we should only try to send our message to as many people as possible as many times as possible. I deeply believe we should be on the other side on the spectrum. Marketing should be now be about engaging people.
    The question we should ask (by we I mean those who think marketing is about relationships) is what do we need to tell those on “the other side” to make them believe what we believe. Blogs like this are a great first step, but we need to figure out how can we convince them about the power of relationships.

  • http://ramirocaso2.wordpress.com Ramiro

    I think the problem with those that still are on the banner side of the spectrum is that the still believe in the “broadcast / blockbuster” model of marketing. They still believe we should only try to send our message to as many people as possible as many times as possible. I deeply believe we should be on the other side on the spectrum. Marketing should be now be about engaging people.
    The question we should ask (by we I mean those who think marketing is about relationships) is what do we need to tell those on “the other side” to make them believe what we believe. Blogs like this are a great first step, but we need to figure out how can we convince them about the power of relationships.

  • http://www.blogfirestudio.com/blog Patrick Johnson

    While I agree completely, there are some questions I would have to raise.

    It looks as if we are looking at these different “spectrums” in isolation, for example a banner ad is immediate short term high cost effort compared to writing a blog which is a long term long value effort…

    However what isn’t to say that you can’t effectively use a banner ad to increase blog readership or start a relationship? Same with building a face book page.

    Really any marketing effort would probably benefit through an integrated approach would it not?

  • http://www.blogfirestudio.com/blog Patrick Johnson

    While I agree completely, there are some questions I would have to raise.

    It looks as if we are looking at these different “spectrums” in isolation, for example a banner ad is immediate short term high cost effort compared to writing a blog which is a long term long value effort…

    However what isn’t to say that you can’t effectively use a banner ad to increase blog readership or start a relationship? Same with building a face book page.

    Really any marketing effort would probably benefit through an integrated approach would it not?

  • http://www.orbius.com C.H. Low

    Great visual model! I think the spectrum is also a good way to represent a road map for a journey.

    Getting to the other end takes time, effort, money, resources, skills to be developed, brand comfort, our own personal emotional comfort, etc.. and ALSO POTENTIAL REWARD that commensuarate with it, of course. Otherwise why would anybody want the other end!

    To try to get from one end to the other in one leap for many actually causes them not to even take the first step towards that direction and in the end they don’t even start!

    I suggest people see the many possible baby steps in between if that will get them to get moving. The only way to get to the other side is to get moving!

    C.H. Low, CEO, http://www.orbius.com

  • http://www.orbius.com C.H. Low

    Great visual model! I think the spectrum is also a good way to represent a road map for a journey.

    Getting to the other end takes time, effort, money, resources, skills to be developed, brand comfort, our own personal emotional comfort, etc.. and ALSO POTENTIAL REWARD that commensuarate with it, of course. Otherwise why would anybody want the other end!

    To try to get from one end to the other in one leap for many actually causes them not to even take the first step towards that direction and in the end they don’t even start!

    I suggest people see the many possible baby steps in between if that will get them to get moving. The only way to get to the other side is to get moving!

    C.H. Low, CEO, http://www.orbius.com