5 types of social media strategies


“It does not matter how awesome your product is or your presentation or your post. Your awesome thing matters ONLY to the extent that it serves the user’s ability to be a little more awesome.”

I stumbled across this quote from Kathy Sierra and it struck me how important this rule is for social media, yet how rarely it’s followed.

There’s a lot of social media soul searching happening right now in the world of marketing. Facebook’s dismal stock performance is bringing out the naysayers of social media in general.

While soul searching, it’s important to consider not just the merits of social media in general but also how social media can be used in particular. Social media is not a magic bullet. It’s an enabler. Social media won’t make an antisocial brand suddenly social. But it can facilitate and amplify the role that brands play with their audiences.

Whether in social media or any other domain, we need to focus less on how “awesome” we are and more on working toward making our customer’s more “awesome”.

(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away one signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. I’ll pick one comment. Thanks!)

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23 Comments

  1. Kia says:

    One Sr. account manager of our company once told me that the only ting we sell, no matter what business you’re in, is hope. I guess it’s the hope of being found awesome.

  2. Boris Borchert says:

    I would love to know where you found this quote of her. It´s perfect for my next presentation and I would love to set a link to give her full reputation.

  3. Naomi Shapiro says:

    It’s amazing that we have to continually remind ourselves of this, although to some it came very naturally. Venerable advertising pioneer, Claude C. Hopkins (1866-1932) said some time ago: “Argue anything for your own advantage, and people will resist to the limit. But seem unselfishly to consider your customers’ desires, and they will naturally flock to you.” (in His book, “My Life In Advertising”). I used this quote in the intro to my trade book of promotions, sales tools and special events for the Newspaper Publishing Industry, published in 1988). You can see the very interesting background of Claude C. Hopkins at http://www.foolonahill.com/claude(dot)html

  4. Karl Sakas says:

    For fun, my friend Phil Buckley created a “Check Your Twitter-Awesomeness” score — put in your username and it tells you how awesome you are: http://www.1918.com/twitter-score.php

    Like your social media strategy #5, it’s all about showing other people how *they’re* awesome, versus being all about him.

  5. Tom says:

    I think I have finally got to the point that I believe Facebook is not the great marketing tool that everyone things it is. I think we’ve elevated it way beyond its true worth (and it does have some worthiness). I manage a page for the community college where I work. We have 8000 students, and 2000 fans on the page. The single most talked about and shared post was a photo I took of dramatic storm clouds over campus. I now think the page is a place for students to get in touch with other students. faculty and staff to get answers to questions about the bookstore, financial aid (the most frequent topic) etc. It’s a customer service tool.

  6. Rijo Ealias says:

    I may recommend Facebook (Strategy #1) should you be trying to market a consumer product or brand such as FMCG or Consumer Electronics where individual buyer reviews are greatly valued. But I doubt if the same strategy would create any impact in B2B businesses. I recently came across a Facebook page of a consultancy firm which was ‘liked’ by several high school kids, most of whom were friends and family of the employees themselves. This clearly indicates unprofessional approach and raises skepticism in its reliability. I think using Facebook as a social media marketing strategy may cause damage to a brand than promote it.

  7. Rod McLeod says:

    I agree. It’s interesting that social media, and to some extent marketing, is becoming synonymous with community management. A lot of the programs that clients want these days isn’t about traditional marketing or PR (I work in PR); it’s more about building and managing a community. Social media is a great way to cultivate brand advocates and special interest groups, and companies should begin building their programs with this in mind.

  8. Steve Schildwachter says:

    Tom, this is funny, because last Friday at a client meeting in Europe it occurred to me that “Follow us on Twitter” is the second type of strategy in your cartoon, “broadcast”. (Even blogged about it: http://admajoremblog.blogspot.com/2012/08/dont-follow-us-on-twitter.html) The point there was that mass advertisers use Twitter as mass advertising, promotion marketers use it as a promo device, etc. My friend @ConceptKing pointed out that even saying “Join the conversation” is hackneyed and wrong.

    My blog post went on to suggest different ways to invite social media participation, but it’s not the words, it’s the strategy. What are you doing with Twitter or Facebook that another medium can’t accomplish? How will that social medium help address your business objective?

    I like Rod’s comment about how social media and community management continue to intertwine. The thing is, you have to have a community worth joining. “How can we help you be more awesome?” is a great standard. As long as you’re useful or entertaining, you’re off to a good start.

  9. Susie Wyshak says:

    Kathy Sierra does it again. The awesome insight goes back to basic customer experience and in fact human existence. We like people who help us be the best person we can be, unless of course we prefer to be self-destructive in time-wasting sink holes while watching others be the awesome person we really should be. I continue to be amazed at how the low tech, often inefficient Craigslist has contributed to my awesome life because that’s where the people and connections are in a global mastermind of bookshelf buying, job and hire connections, future roommates, rideshares, and bizarre happenstance.

    PS Marketoon enables awesomeness through your clever insight and smiles. How often can I feel like I’m working while enjoying cartoons?

  10. tomfishburne says:

    Hi Boris, I found Kathy’s quote in this wonderful interview with Valeria Maltoni: http://www.conversationagent.com/2011/03/creating-passionate-users-with-kathy-sierra.html . I accidentally left out the link in my post, but I’m adding it now.

  11. Shawn says:

    Agree. I work in market research, assessing the effectiveness of social media initiatives, and have found that there’s a high level of exuburance around social media. Some companies feel like it’s the magic bullet, and they NEED to have a Facebook brand presence, and need to provide discounts to get people to become a fan. But are those fans truly fans (i.e. willing to pay a premium price for your product because they truly value it?).

    More importantly, can you cultivate the relationship over time? Can you sustain the relationship, so it’s not just a one-time deal? Just because they are fans (clicked “Like” on Facebook) doesn’t mean their action will follow (i.e. doesn’t mean they will actually buy you more).

  12. Josh says:

    In all interactions, on or offline, there is a bartering system. You happily sit through horribly boring stories from your creepy Uncle because he is a minority owner of the Bears. You hang on every misused word and malformed sentence from a supermodel. But if someone comes up to you on the street and doesn’t immediately capture your attention, you politely say thank you and walk away. The reason very few companies function properly within the social environment isn’t because they don’t understand it, it is because they all think they are supermodels. They are obsessed with their company. They are obsessed with the brand-new line of rug shampoos that now have 13% less or more of something that they spent 4 years developing. They are obsessed so they assume you will be too.

  13. Allen Roberts says:

    Love it Tom.
    Once again, you prove the old adage that a picture tells a 000 words.
    ALlen Roberts

  14. Celia Israel says:

    Good thought provoking post. I am launching my web site and FB page next month after being in business since 1999. I have been able to stay in business because of my client relationships, not because of my social media presence. As a real estate professional and community affairs consultant, I see social media as a way to take ‘the real me’ and have it shared with my friends and associates- only a subset of whom will really advocate for me (referrals). Social Media is just another channel for my voice, but that voice had better be real and it had better be valuable – or else I am just taking up space. Thanks for the timely tip.

  15. Kathy Sierra says:

    Love it! Yes, everything you said, and the cartoon nails it.

    And then… there is the *sixth* social media strategy… where it isn’t about you At All. Where users are helping other users “be more awesome”. When I left Twitter and people speculated how I could possibly sell books without my followers, etc., I thought, “same way we did before Twitter… by making a book people find more useful than any other competitor. No social media needed.”. But of course that is not completely true… Social media IS needed, but it is not *our* social media (as developers, producers, creators, etc.) but rather the social media of our users. Somewhere online, someone is telling someone else, “OMG you must get this. Look at what I did/made/found/lost as a result.”

    Word of mouth is now more valuable than ever as “brand” and/or advertiser trust continues to drop. And as I deeply believe: what is even better than WOM is WOFO — Word of Obvious. It cannot be bought, coerced, gamified, etc. if a product or service truly makes someone better at something, it will be near impossible for that to NOT be obvious, and in the most meaningful way.

    I feel quite sorry for those who feel their ONLY hope for success is their own personal social media strategy. Another way we look at this is to say that what you make is not for YOUR audience — and what they will think of YOU — but to create something for your audience’s audience.

  16. Diane says:

    As I am working to establish my own communications business, I find your advice to be … awesome.

  17. Ari Herzog says:

    You missed a piece of the cartoon: BECAUSE *TOM FISHBURNE* LIKES *FISHING*, WE WANT TO TELL YOU ABOUT THE TIME WE WENT FISHING AND BLAH BLAH BLAH” — which only exists because Tom commented once about going fishing with his dad. Or such.

    It’s not about the message or the messenger. It’s about why the messenger cares.

  18. Bren Cueni says:

    We are putting on a Social Media Marketing Summit for our members in the Fall. I think it is imperative that anyone who uses any form of marketing realize it truly isn’t telling everyone how great your product / service is, it is about communicating how important you(the customer is) to said advertiser.

    PS – Can I have your permission to use this cartoon at my event?

  19. claire axelrad says:

    Love this cartoon! We’re always trying to prove to folks how legendary we are when, too often, we’re legends only in our own mind. No one cares. We need to be thinking more about how we can make others legendary. Or, as Kathy suggests, how we can help our users kick ass! Really, it’s all about our constituents. Without them, we’re toast.

    So we must provide something of value. It can’t all be blah, blah, blah… take, take, take. We must also give. It’s a value-for-value exchange. The more valuable we can be, the more we will be valued.

    This isn’t rocket science. But we forget. There are so many ways we can be of value through social media. Offer “how to,” “tips” and “recommendations”… teach folks something that will help them get to where they want to go… offer advice… strategies… behind-the-scenes information… and always, always engage with folks online. This is one of the very best ways to build relationships and also to develop targeted customer research.

    Thanks for sharing. :-)

  20. tomfishburne says:

    Wow, amazing dialogue this week, many thanks! I’m particularly inspired that Kathy Sierra stopped by personally to share her thoughts, and I love the idea of WOFO. I have a cartoon print en-route to her as thanks.

    This week’s winning print goes to Rod McLeod. I really like the insight that marketing is becoming synonymous with community management. I heard recently someone say that if you have “marketing” in your title, your job is “fan club manager”.

    Many thanks for all of the inspiring commentary (in this post and in general). YOU are awesome.

    -Tom

  21. Steve Garfield says:

    Hi Tom,
    I love the cartoon and the licensing.

    Blogged about it here:
    http://offonatangent.blogspot.com/2012/09/types-of-social-media-strategies.html

    –Steve

  22. Tom Lincoln says:

    Thank You Tom! My print arrived at my Home! Tom does what he says he is going to do. He is a man of his word. Well done Tom!

  23. Sheila Kaur says:

    Tribe building thru social media is no doubt a valuable source for mind share building and tapping into changing thought patterns/ feedback or even to identify upcoming spending trends. However to keep the tribe going the entire community must feel individualised and as such a heirarchy system must form- to do this more interesting lots such as “gamification” . This may mean that game technology and social media including broadcast / moving image technology will form a new practice area alongside text social media plus PR.

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