Friday, November 9, 2012

Under Standing Social Media


Ok, so now you know the definition of the term “social media” as defined by various web dictionaries and other websites.

And in the previous chapter you also learned how and from where the social media evolved to become what it is today.

In this chapter, we will try to learn a little more about the social media to help you understand it better.

Basically, people are interested in networking and connecting with friends, sharing content, sending messages, collaborating

with each other in real-time, gathering news/information/feedback or just uploading/downloading media files (movies/music/photos) on the Internet. Any media in the form of websites that allows them to do these things with ease becomesa social media site.


 Today, social media has substantially changed the way organizations, communities, and individuals communicate with each other.


Businesses usually refer to the social media as a consumer-generated media (CGM). Social media can be differentiated from industrial or traditional media like magazines, newspapers, television and film, as they are relatively inexpensive,

easily accessible and enable anyone (private individuals) to publish or access information.

The social media has some inherent properties which make it much more powerful than the traditional media.


• Accessibility: The social media is easily accessible and takes minimal or no costs to use. Social media is easy to use and does not require any special skills, knowledge to use. It is absolutely simple to connect with others and be a part of communities. Therefore anyone with online access can use the Social Media toinitiate or participate in the conversations. In a sense, everyone is now empowered to speak up.


• Speed: The content that you create on the social media is available to everyone in your network/forum/community as soon as you publish it. You can communicate with your audience without any external factor affecting the delivery of your message. The responses are also near instantaneous and thus you can have adialogue, which is almost in real-time.


Interactivity: Social media affords a two way or multiple communication channels. Users can interact with each other; ask questions, discuss products / services, share opinions and anything else they might be interested in doing.


Longevity / volatility: Social media content remains accessible for a long time, maybe forever, because of the nature of the medium. In addition to this the content can be edited / updated anytime. So, if a user likes a particular product and says so in the social media, it is not a permanent positive vote for the product; the user can always go back and change his opinion anytime.


• Reach: The Internet offers an unlimited reach to all content available. Anyone can access it from anywhere and anyone can reach, potentially, everyone. Social media offers the same facility to all the users who can share anything with anyone they like.

Social media has opened up new avenues for people to engage with each other and with the content available on the Internet. The social interaction of the yore, severely restricted by various boundaries, has now been taken online, opening up a world of new possibilities.

People are using the social media to stay connected with friends/family, find people with similar interests, discuss issues with others, share opinions, asking and answering questions, reading user reviews etc.



 We can surmise that, in addition to staying connected, the users want to acquire/enhance knowledge and gain insights into specific subjects to help them make better decisions. It is this consideration that makes social media an enticing opportunity for businesses, celebrities,

politicians etc. Opportunities to help them gauge consumer sentiments, acquire new customers/fans, interact with the customers, enhance their brand and manage their online reputation.


3.1 Classification of Social Media

The various types or forms of social media that exist on the Internet are; Magazines, Internet Forums, Weblogs, SociaBlogs, Micro-Blogging, Wikis, Podcasts, Photographs, Videos, Rating and Social Bookmarking.

Kaplan and Haenlein classified the social media into six different types based on their media research and published it in

an article in Business Horizons (2010). They classified the social media as:

1. Collaborative projects (e.g. Wikipedia)

2. Blogs and Microblogs (e.g. Twitter)

3. Content Communities (e.g. Youtube)

4. Social Networking Sites (e.g. Facebook)

5. Virtual Game Worlds (e.g. World of Warcraft)

6. Virtual Social Worlds (e.g. Second Life)


Social media is still a work in progress and evolving on a daily basis. The scope of the social media is very vast and its usage extends into various fields, regions, demographics etc. People are getting connected to each other in more ways than previously imagined. Therefore it becomes difficult to understand the complexities involved and efforts are still on to

understand the true nature of social media. With more and more businesses investing in the social media for supporting their offline functions, it becomes all the more important to understand the social media landscape and functionality in order to effectively derive positive returns form the investment.


3.2 Honeycomb Framework of Social Media Functionality

Kietzmann et al. (2011) studied the social media activities on the Internet and found that the behaviour of the consumers  on the Internet had changed from simply expending content, reading it, watching it, buying and selling products or services to now take a more active part by utilizing various platforms like content sharing sites, blogs, social networking sites and wikis – to create, modify, share and discuss Internet content. According to their article, this represents the social media phenomenon, which now has the capability to significantly impact a firm’s reputation, its sales and even survival for that matter.  

In spite of this phenomenon, many executives are still ignoring this form of social media simply because they do not understand it, or the various forms it can take, and even how to engage with it and learn.


Thus, to help the organizations to engage with, know and understand the social media better, they came up with a honeycomb framework (Figures 3.2 and 3.3) that defines the social media by using seven functional building blocks,namely: Identity, Conversations, Sharing, Presence, Relationships, Reputation, and Groups.


Using this honeycomb framework they have tried to explain the implications that each block can have for how firms should engage with the social media.


The figure shows how different social media activities are defined by the extent to which they focus on some or all of these blocks. For example - LinkedIn focuses primarily on Identity, reputation and Relationships, whereas Yout ube  focuses primarily on Sharing, Conversations, Groups and Reputation.


In this manner, one can study the focus of each social media platform to be able to understand it better and be able to use and engage it in the right manner to get the maximum leverage out of it.

Kietzmann et al., in the article published in Business Horizons, have explained in detail how the framework can be used to compare and contrast the functionalities and implications of different social media activities and also presented guidelines for how firms should develop strategies for monitoring, understanding, and responding to the different socialmedia activities. (Refer to original article: Kietzmann, J.H., Hermkens, K., McCarthy, I.P., & Silvestre, B.S. 2011. Social Media? Get Serious! Understanding the Functional Building Blocks of Social Media. Business Horizons, 54, 241-251.)



3.3 Social Media Landscape 2011

 To understand the social  media even better, Fred Cavazza (A Web Consultant and French Blogger) creates an infographic

each year to illustrate effectively the different social media platforms that are being used most, their diversity and their

uses. The figure 3.4 below illustrates the social media landscape for 2011 in all its glory.



Fred Cavazza describes the social media as a rich ecosystem that is perpetually evolving. He created the infographic of the social media landscape in 2011 that showed a much sharper vision of the social media ecosystem and emerging practices like social commerce or social search as compared to his earlier version in 2008. According to him, this new landscape iscomposed of 7 families, which matches the 7 primary uses of the social media as follows: (quoted below verbatim, with permission, from


Publish, with blog platforms (WordPress, Typepad, Blogger, Overblog), microblog (Twitter), social streamservices (FriendFeed, Tumblr, Posterous) and wikis (Wikipedia, Wikia, WetPaint);


Share, with services allowing you to share videos (YouTube, Dailymotion, Vimeo), photos (Flickr, Picasa,Instagram), links (Delicious, Digg), music (Last, iLike, Spotify, Deezer) or documents (SlideShare, Scribb);

Discuss, with bulletin boards (PhpBB, bbPress, Phorum, 4Chan, Gravity), comments management systems (IntenseDebate, Cocomment, Disqus, JS-Kit, Backtype) and social search tools (Quora, Aardvark, Mahalo);


•Commerce, with customers reviews solutions (BazaarVoice, PowerReviews), collaborative feedbacks tools (UserVoice, GetSatisfaction), recommendation and inspiration communities (Polyvore, StyleHyve,Weardrobe, Hunch), localized coupons (Groupon, LivingSocial), purchase sharing tools (Blippy, Swipely)co-shopping tools (Look’n’Be) and Facebook-shopping tools (ShopTab, Boosket);


Location, with social location platforms (Foursquare, Gowalla, MyTown, Facebook Places, Google Places),local social networks (Loopt, Whrrl), mobile social networks (Mig33, MocoSpace) and events sharing (Upcoming, Plancast, Zvents, Eventful, Socializr);


Network, with personal social networks (MyYearBook, MyLife, CopainsDavant, Badoo), professional social network (LinkedIn, Viadeo, Xing, Plaxo), « traditionnal » social network (Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, Tagged, Hi5) and social networks creation tools (Ning, KickApps);


Games, where you can find traditionnal players from casual gaming (Kongregate, Pogo, PopCap, PlayFirst), but also new comers from social gaming (Zynga, Playfish, Playdom, SGN), as well as mobile gaming (ngmoco, OpenFeint) and virtual worlds for tweens (Habbo, Club Penguin, Poptropica).


The aim of the chart was not to have an exhaustive list, but to give the readers a sharp overview of what type of services the social media are made up of. And according to him the three players who managed to grab the full attention within this overview were undoubtedly: Facebook, Twitter and Google.




Snapshot of Social Media use in Advancement

Here are some key take aways from the research, which provide the first in-depth look at how schools,colleges, and universities are using social media to engage with significant external audie nces.


Most institutions are using one or more social media tools. Facebook is the

clear leader, with nearly every institution (94%) using Facebook to engage with multiple audiences. About three in five institutions also use Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or YouTube. About one in three maintain blogs, use Flickr, and/or offer a social community via an outside vendor like Harris or iModules. Almost 60% of institutions have added social networking features to their own websites. Only

4% of respondents said they weren’t using any social media (most of these

respondents represented development offices).

Institutions are using social media to engage

with multiple audiences. The table on the left

offers an idea about just whom advancement staff

are attempting to reach with social media.

The top three goals are engaging alumni (86%), strengthening institutional Brand (72%), and increasing awareness/advocacy/rankings (58%).Marketing professionals also use social media to

Recruit students (70%), engage admitted students (65%) and engage current students (62%).

Nearly half of development professionals reported using social media in fundraising. Right now, we understand that fundraisers often don’t see value in social media. Anecdotally, we’ve heard fundraisers argue that using social media is a fine long-term strategy, but that it won’t help them to raise money in the short term and is a distraction, especially for those engaged in campaigns. It doesn’t help that there are few examples within education in which social media have been used to raise significant amounts of money.3

Advancement officers like Facebook. Respondents consider Facebook the most successful tool in meeting their goals (85%), with an institutional website with social network features running a distant second (31%), LinkedIn third (27%), and Twitter (25%) and YouTube (23%) nearly tied.

Managing and deploying social media

Right now, management of social media is decentralized Across the institution without much coordination,and, you know what, we like it that way! At Least  that’s what our respondents report. More than half (53%) handle their own social media  ctivities within their unit, with some input from other departments;another quarter does it without any input; and about 20%

Have another department take the lead. Not only is management of social media at the

discretion of individual units, but there also aren’t many institutional policies or standards that they

can turn to for guidance.   If there are, they involve graphics and branding guidelines. Those institutions that report having policies say that they are created and/or managed by a communications, marketing, or PR department. Few institutions have considered

managing negative postings through establishing posting or commenting policies, nor do institutional policies tend to address privacy, ethical, or  legal issues.


Though our respondents like the current “Wild West”approach to social media—an environment where there isn’t much coordination, focus on policy, or  standards—many respondents recognize that they could benefit from mor coordination and planning at the institutional level. But they don’t see the need for a one size fits all strategy, nor do they want to give up control of staffing or the content of their social  media efforts. Our data reveal a split when it comes to planning and

control. Only 35% said their social media development is the result of planning (not spontaneous)

and 71% said they would like to see more planning in the future.Just 15% said social media is controlled by a coordination committee or group, and 41%  would like more coordination.

In contrast,54% like the level of planning and coordination they  currently have.










Attitudes about Social Media

While many advancement offices are participating in social media, they recognize that they are not, by and large, the primary drivers of that effort. Nearly all are motivated at least in part by demand from alumni or other constituents (86%) or competition from peer institutions (84%). While most (71%) believe social media have great potential For achieving  important goals for their unit, fewer  say they have institutional support and buy-in (46%) or the expertise to help their social media efforts (26%).And institutions are not making significant investments to support social media, either in staffing or budget. Only 14% expect to add staff committed to social media this year.As Andy Shaindlin, founder of Alumni Futures, pointed out, “The fact that only 14% expect to hire more staff for social media, but the demand is growing, illustrates one of the real issues we face. And it’s reinforced by the openended responses.People aren’t going to get any more people todo social media, so some staff members are  going to have to unplug from at least some of what they are doing and switch their responsibilities. “This is a management challenge to the stitution’sleaders, who have to figure out how to incorporate social media responsibilities into the org chart in the full understanding that they’re not getting more staff and they may actually lose some people. And let’s be clear: this isn’t a new challenge,but an ongoing manifestation of change.The world has changed and if you want to be in it, you have to be ready  to change, too.”














Example: To what degree is each issue below

a barrier to the successful use of

social media in your unit?  

 Not surprising, the biggest challenges  inhibiting institutions from doing more with social media, respondents say, are staffing, expertise, and funding. Privacy concerns, turf battles, and institutional red tape are low on the list of barriers,

partly, we suspect, because social media anagement is so decentralized.

In fact, social media seems to be at the same place now that institutional websites were in 1997. At that time,institutional leaders and administrators

often didn’t understand how important an institution’s website was and, as a result, there was little formal oversight of the site and little or no budget allocated for site development, essential

tools such as a content management system, common design standards, or staff support. Much has changed since then. If social media follows the same trajectory as institutional websites have,

these issues will be addressed over time

as leaders begin to see how important it

is in engaging their important audiences. 

On the other hand, one surprise is that fear of negative postings is such a nonissue for respondents. Many of us who speak or write about social media are invariably asked about how

to respond to the concern among senior staff about negative comments or blog postings. Yet overall this was a minor concern for respondents.

We’re starting to see some coordinated yet decentralized approaches to managing social

media, both within institutions and within units charged with broad communications with

institutional audiences. For example, at Northfield Mount Hermon School, an independent

school (grades 9-12) in Gill, Massachusetts, individuals from a number of offices across

campus manage and contribute to social media. About three dozen faculty, students,

and administrators post to NMH blogs. These blog posts, in turn, are syndicated through

NMHbook, the school’s social media aggregation site. At the Emory University Alumni Association, a team of three people is hard at work makingure their colleagues are well-versed in social media and able to participate where and when appropriate. Stacey Gall, assistant director of technology and information management, said, “We’re trying to get to a point where      all staff have their hands in social media. We have around 70 Facebook pages/groups based mainly on events or city-specific networking. We rely on our staff and volunteers/contacts in these locations to post and respond to comments.”




Social Media Policy Examples and Resources

Over time , more and more foundational work for organizations looking to dip their toes into social media. One of the key elements of this work, in my opinion, is creating a social media policy that fits well with the organization’s goals, culture and risk tolerance.

But where to start?

As it happens, lots of organizations publish their social media guidelines online, ready for you to review and use yourself. Here are 57 great social media policy templates and resources to use when building your own.

Social Media Policies and Guidelines

American Express Open Forum
American Institute of Architects
American Red Cross
Australian Public Service Commission
British Telecom
Best Buy
Chartered Institute of Public Relations
Coca Cola
Fellowship Church
General Motors
Georgia Tech
Harvard Law School
Hill & Knowlton
International Olympic Committee
Jaffe PR
Kaiser Permanente
Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic
Mosman Municipal Council
Porter Novelli
Robert Scoble
U.S. Air Force
U.S. Air Force
U.S. Coast Guard
U.K. Civil Service

Other Social Media Policy Resources

Dave Fleet
Business Week
Doug Cornelius
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Elizabeth Hannan
Nonprofit Technology Network
Shift Communications
Social Computing Journal
Social Media Governance







Tools you need to help create your social media strategy

The best free listening tool out there at the moment
Another free tool for listening in to discussion boards and forums
Listens to conversations around the Social Web including Google Blog search and delicious tags
In Pete Cashmore’s (CEO Mashable) words, “HootSuite is an essential tool for managing social networks by allowing teams to efficiently track conversations and measure campaign results.”
This is an enterprise level tool that can also be used for smaller social media engagements. Radian6 is a fantastic tool to listen, measure, understand and engage with your audience. Radian6 is not free.
Similar to Radian6, this tool is not free and has pretty similar features.
THE survey tool. Use it for user research, market research and receiving feedback on your social media concepts
Also great for testing your story strategy and social media concepts


Social Media Networks as a Marketing Tool (a new study)


A study by Michael Stelzner, sponsored by the Social Media Success Summit 2009, set out to find the prevalence of social media networks as a tool for marketers. Social Media Marketing Industry Report: How Marketers are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses tries to uncover the social media networks that marketers are using and finding valuable. The contents of the report provide a useful reference point for small business owners exploring an entrance into social media.


The methodology for the study was a survey distributed through e-mail, Facebook and blogs. In the end, 880 respondents offered their answers, and some 685 provided open-ended answers. A summary of the findings is presented here.   


The specific questions the survey set out to answer were:

  • How widespread is the use of social media networks for marketing?
  • What is the experience level of users?
  • How much time do users commit per week?
  • In what age group are those using social media network marketing?
  • What are the main perceived benefits?
  • Which social media networks do marketers use the most?
  • Which social media networks do marketers most want to learn about?

Popularity of Social Media Networks for Marketing

The findings are interesting and promising for social media networks as a tool that will continue to grow in use. A full 88% of respondents use social media networks, and 81% of them reported gaining business exposure as a result. As far as experience level, 72% reported being beginners or being at it for a few months. These results alone suggest that while the tool is getting a lot of attention now, it will get more in the future as those benefits (such as the added exposure) are experienced by more of the 72% of respondents who are only beginning to experience social media network marketing.


Out of the 88% of respondents who reported using social media networks, 30.2% were sole proprietors who were just getting started. The most experienced users were owners of 2 to 100 employee companies – at 29.3%.

Time Commitment

64% of respondents invest 5 hours a week or more, while 39% report investing 10 hours per week or more. A small percentage – 9.6% - spends 20 hours or more per week in social media network marketing. This small group has evidently found a reward for their time investment, as they are the same group who reported having been using this tool for years.

Age Groups

The most likely age group to be using social media network marketing is the 30 to 39 year-olds. The next most likely age group is 20 to 29 year-olds, and finally the 50 to 59 age group. The percentages of people dedicating 20 hours or more per week within these age groups are 44.8%, 40.3% and 38.7%, respectively. The findings are consistent in that the most likely age group also has the highest percentage of 10+hour users.

Perceived Benefits

The largest perceived benefit, as expressed by 81% of respondents, is business exposure. After this come increased traffic or conversion rates for 61% of respondents; new business partnerships for 56% of respondents; rise in search engine rankings for 52%; qualified sales leads for 48%; reduced marketing costs for 45% of respondents; and for 35% of respondents social media networks helped them close business.

At least from what can be seen in the report, no respondents offered quantitative evidence of the benefits experienced such as search engine rankings before and after or revenue achieved directly through social media network marketing. However, there is hunger for such information, as evidenced by the following sample of top questions sent back by respondents to the surveyors:

  • How do I measure the effectiveness of social media?
  • What is the ROI?
  • How do I find and focus efforts on my target audience?
  • How do I convert my social media marketing efforts into tangible results?
  • Where are the documented, real success stories?
  • Where’s the money?

Most Used Social Media Networks

Twitter is the top social media tool in use by marketers as reported by 86% of respondents. The ones that follow in rank are:

  • Blogs – 79%
  • LinkedIn – 78%
  • Facebook – 77%
  • YouTube/Video Sites – 41%
  • Social bookmarking sites – 38%

Below these were forums, StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit or similar, and at the bottom came Friendfeed.

The number two choice for beginners is LinkedIn, and for those with a few months’ experience it’s Facebook.

Ninety-four percent (94%) of the most experienced users cite Twitter as their top choice.

An interesting finding was that men are 20% more likely than women to go for YouTube or similar video sites.

Sites of Interest

As everything evolves continually in cyberspace, savvy marketers want to be – if at all possible – ahead of the game. Social media networking sites pop up all the time and the public moves from one to the other in some measure.

Social bookmarking sites, such as, are the ones marketers are most curious about and interested in – with 58% of respondents naming them. Right behind, by one percentage point comes Twitter, which is consistent with the finding that 94% of the most experienced users go for Twitter as their number one choice, since these are the same 9.6% of users who spend 20 hours or more a week and are the most experienced. In other words, newbies and middle-experience marketers who use social media networking are still looking to Twitter as something new to learn about. The most experienced users expressed top interest in Friendfeed, followed by StumbleUpon and social bookmarking sites.



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