A Different Way to Make Sense of Social Media Tools

We completed the eighth of our social accelerator sessions before the holiday break as part of our internal training curriculum.

When considering which social media tools to deploy in a given campaign, there’s a tendency to focus on functionality and reach. And rightfully so, since those two variables largely determine traction.

Still, there’s another useful way to categorize social media tools, identifying the strength of each tool in terms of content type (words or visual) and cognitive slant (intellectual or emotional).

You can see how this plays out for the core social building blocks often used in business campaigns in the graphic below:

A Different Way to Make Sense of Social Media Tools

To argue whether Facebook should move a smidgen north and to the left – true, you can feed more content suited for the intellectual side into the platform – is the wrong debate.

The point is, the most effective social campaigns typically hit both the right side and left side of the brain. It’s natural for consumer brands to lean heavily toward to the emotional side and for B2B companies to favor the intellectual side.

Still, as a VP of marketing at a semiconductor company so eloquently put it years ago, “Engineers are people too.” If you buy into this premise – and for the record I do – then social campaigns targeting technical and other B2B audiences should blend content types.

With that said, many B2B companies implement social campaigns based on Twitter and Facebook because the marketing brain trust concludes a) they need to jump on the social bandwagon, b) Twitter is hot and easy to implement, and c) Facebook is everywhere and easy to implement. If you know of a B2B social campaign that’s been wildly successful using only Twitter and Facebook, I would love to hear about it.

I haven’t been able to find one.

A few additional comments:

  • By emotional, we don’t mean your content prompts the reader to break down crying. Just 10 seconds of amusement or surprise or a smile on a face falls under the emotional umbrella.
  • Posted comments aren’t exactly a social media platform, but from our perspective they fit into social campaigns since they cultivate engagement with the outside world. Plus, they can be a “cheater’s way” to build content and even thought leadership without taking on the commitment of a blog.
  • SlideShare is underutilized in social campaigns. I said this before LinkedIn bought Slideshare, and the platform’s potential only increases as part of the LinkedIn ecosystem. If you consider how the two tools fall on the graphic, they make a good one-two punch to cover all your bases.

I think it’s fair to say that turning the dials for “intellectual” and “emotional” is more art than science.

Of course, you can continually refine the mix once you’re in execution mode.

Note: If you’d like to share your own take on this topic with the chart in this post, send me an email or post a comment and I’m happy to pass along a JPEG of the chart.

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6 comments

6 Comments so far

  1. Brad Penner January 18th, 2013 7:38 am

    I like the concept illustrated through the chart. It’s a clear, fresh way to think about social media and content type. It seems to me that in some cases content in the lower right quad could be used as “bait” to drive users to content in the upper left quad. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jeff Machado January 18th, 2013 7:58 am

    That is a fantastic graph and goes along with what I’ve been feeling lately. A lot of businesses use Facebook as a text based tool when it really is much more about the photos. Thanks for sharing!

  3. hoffman January 18th, 2013 8:41 am

    Brad,

    You make a good point.

    The content is the lower right quad emphasizing the visual/emotional is a good way to “pull” people in. It’s also the type of the content that can be easily generated by employees outside the social/communications team or even customers.

  4. hoffman January 18th, 2013 8:44 am

    Thanks for the positive words Jeff.

    I know different people have different views on how Facebook should be applied to a company.

    I’m with you. It’s more suited to bringing out a company’s personality through visuals. With that said, I know there are case studies out there that show a company effectively deploying Facebook with deep content. But I think these tend to be the outliers.

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