Based on a netnography of social media gurus, like Pam Moore, Brian Solis, Chris Brogan, Michael Stelzner, and others, I’ve developed a hierarchy of effects much like the one we use to understand advertising. However, in social media the hierarchy of effects looks a lot different. I’d love feedback on this new hierarchy of effects in social media before submitting it to reviewers.
Developing the Social Media Hierarchy of Effects
Engaged social fans and followers enact their roles – through transmitting information, advocating for the brand, and defending the brand against attacks on social networks. Encouraging engagement brings rewards, like those shared by Mike earlier. Marketing Pilgrim provides an excellent example using the vernacular of a brand evangelist.
Do you know VABeachKevin? He’s a guy on Twitter who might answer your question if you’re confused about a product from Omniture. Funny thing is, he doesn’t work for the company. He’s just a guy who likes the product and likes to share what he knows. He’s a brand evangelist and his word is worth more than ten tweets from a salesman on the company Twitter. http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2011/03/turning–social–media–followers–into–brand–evangelists.html
Brand evangelists, much like partial employees, willingly provide valuable service to the brand without compensation. Evangelists aid decision-making, ease installation, answer questions, and provide support to customers and prospects. Evangalists are similar to marketing mavens; acting as the go-to person within a product category.
Consumers become evangelists through increasing engagement that proceeds using a hierarchy of effects beginning with awareness of the brand or particular brand message. While similar to the traditional hierarchy of effects identified in the advertising literature, this hierarchy of effects requires an understanding of how messages are transmitted in social media. An account showing this transmission comes from Flowtown:
A few years ago, it was sufficient for a website or business to merely belong to social communities like Facebook or Twitter. Joining these communities was, in and of itself, a major step to the next level of branding. Today, simple participation is not enough. True mastery of the social web now demands that a company or individual aggressively optimize their “social graph.” This is the practice of deliberately maximizing one’s presence in a user’s social media activities, such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or blogs. The goal is to make one’s blog posts, marketing messages and online communications as attractive and easy to share within these worlds as possible.
You must strive to seed relevant, useful links throughout the social web portals frequented by your target audience. While great content naturally inspires people to share it, do not stop there. Take the extra steps of making it convenient and simple for others to share your work, such as by including the now ubiquitous share links to Twitter, Facebook, Delicious and the like at the bottom of each page. http://www.flowtown.com/blog/the-importance-of-social-graph-optimization#ixzz19LUaVdMW
Social Media Hierarchy of Effects
As highlighted in this post, a firm employing social media creates a message; however, rather than transmitting it through traditional outlets, such as TV or radio, the firm creates content containing the message, such as a blog post, a short video, or image that is uploaded to the internet. In the simple case, consumers become aware of the message through either search or membership in the firms’ social graph – other individuals connected across social networks. SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SMM (Social Media Marketing), or a combination of the two moderate consumer awareness of the message. Fans spread the message to their own social graph by Tweeting it, sharing it, bookmarking the message, or even liking the message. Using the concept of a social graph, messages cross-pollinate between networks. Messages spread by fans de-commercialize them, creating awareness within their connected network (Branson, 2011).
Increasing awareness and social proof encourage consumers to begin engagement with the brand, through becoming a fan, signing up for the brand’s RSS feed, or following the brand. Participation follows as consumers beging spreading messages, creating messages, sharing their purchase and enjoyment of the brand, and moderating comments from other consumers. Finally, a small group of consumers may become so engaged with the brand they become evangelists.
So, what do you think? Does this fit your idea of a social media hierarchy of effects? Would you modify my diagram? If so, what would you change?
Thanks in advance for your help.