Category Archives: social network

Communities in the Online Space

According to Merriam-Webster online, the word community dates back to the 14th century. Community – “a unified body of individuals …the people with common interests living in a particular area … an interacting population of various kinds of individuals … in a common location … a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society … a group linked by a common policy.” 700 hundred years ago and still, how true.

Lately, I have been doing tons of thinking (and work) with regards to community. I have been on a quest to understand, join and partake in strong communities. I want to understand all the important attributes of a spirited community as a marketing professional leveraging the power of social media. This means that I am concentrating on the virtual community so the definition above rings true minus references to location (sometimes).

Last week I tweeted what appeared to me to be a rhetorical question: can there be a community without conversation? Surprisingly, I did not get even one antagonist that wanted to offer a yes. But given the reality of little (if any) physical connection, a virtual community demands more conversations – 2 way dialogue. A community without conversation is “just one large never ending API feed.” (@RelativelyFX) It is not simply producing content – tweets, wall posts, blog articles, etc. You see, content is not king, but conversations around content is king. (@johnhutson – great line!)

And in the end, “The community decides when it’s a community… you don’t” as Mitch Joel put it.

So in the next couple of weeks, I’ll be exploring the makings of great communities (and likely be blogging on it). I’d really love to hear your input (and other readers will surely value it as well) … What do you think makes a great virtual community and what are some of the best examples you see? Please join the discussion!

Social Steve


Filed under community, marketing, social media, social media marketing, social network, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized

Social Media: How To Go About It Video Series – Part 2 of 7

The social media video series continues. The following segment has been previously posted:

Part 1 – The Marketing Funnel

Today’s update is …

Part 2 – LCR – Listen, Conversations, Relationships …

(Also see “Simplifying Social Media”)

The following segments are forthcoming:

Part 3 – Define Position Before Starting Social Media (to be released soon)
Part 4 – Define Objectives Before Starting Social Media (to be released soon)
Part 5 – Importance of Value with Social Media (to be released soon)
Part 6 – Traversing the Crowd through the Social Media “A-Path” (to be released soon)
Part 7 – Social Media – Where Do You Start (to be released soon)

Thanks for stopping again …

Social Steve

Leave a comment

Filed under brand marketing, brands, customer relations, marketing, marketing plan, social media, social media marketing, social network, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Social Media: Get Your Online Brand, Personality Right

“Who are you, who, who, oh I really want to know …” Pete Townsend, The Who.

Sometimes, musicians say the most profound things. This famous line from a late 1970’s classic is the best advice anyone can get prior to dipping their toe in the social media waters. You must first make a conscious decision of the personality you want to convey independent of whether you enter social media as an individual or a brand.

This is always the first conversation and exercise I go through with clients – defining who you are. The recent announcement of the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine magnifies the importance. As NPR reported, the idea of Web 2.0 suicide “is to abandon your virtual life — so you can get your actual life back.” That is, if you have said something stupid or do not represent your intended personality or brand, you just erase it all (and then start all over again if you wish). Facebook responded that it would block such an application service.

I am sure there will be legal battles over this issue, but get it right from the beginning and there is no need for anxiety or worry. Here are some suggested steps:

1) Determine who your desired audience is – friends, professional associates, customers/clients. This is likely to be different depending on if you are using social media personally, professionally, or for brand awareness and loyalty. If you want to engage in social media for multiple purposes (personal, professional, and/or branding), I recommend keeping separate social identities. For example, my Facebook account is for friends and family. I once had someone I was doing consulting for “friend” me on Facebook and I accepted. I still regret this. Now when it happens, I reply to the “professional friend” that I value our connection and I am interested in building a stronger professional relationship with them … let’s connect on LinkedIn. Here is my litmus test for Facebook friends – Do I want this person to see me and my family in our beach pictures. (Yeah, not too harmful – there are much worse things said or shown on Facebook.)
2) Define your positioning statement – while this is typically a “brand term”, it is most certainly applicable to individuals as well. When one defines a brand position it is usually defined by what is offered, the target market or audience, the value and/or benefits delivered, who the competition is, and how the brand is differentiated. Similar attributes can be set for individuals; even in a social setting. This really becomes the bases for how you want to be perceived. Not that the positioning is communicated, but it becomes a stake in the ground that you can test your social communication and participation against.
3) Reinforce your position – your conversation in a social media context should underpin and emphasize your position and desired portrayal. If you are using social media on a personal level, remember, history is hard to erase. Also, this is not to say that you can not put any personal information in a professional social media context. I use Twitter professionally and I tweet about music (because I am a music junkie) and things I do with my family (because they are extremely important to me). This may not be on topic of a social media marketer, but there is a person behind the SocialSteve Twitter account and including some personal touches builds connections and relationships.

I strongly recommend you at least think about these three areas independent of using social media to engage with friends, family, professional colleagues and partners, network extensions, or as brand. There are slight twists to strategies and formality of implementation, but all should be considered on some level. On a personal level, you may not need to produce formalized definitions, but at least think about it. For brands, I strongly recommend looking at this as procedural steps that receive organizational buy-in and are communicated internally. If you are using social media to strengthen your professional network and image you may want to consider taking the formalized steps.

I’ll just close with one more point to think about … It used to be that when you applied for a job, you would go on the Internet and research the company of interest. Now, companies that consider you for employment are turning the tables and researching you. There is likely a catalogue of information about you, out there, that you have authored. Does it portray you as you want to be perceived and seen?

Make it happen.
Social Steve


Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, Facebook, marketing, social media, social media marketing, social network, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Twitter

Social Steve’s 2009 Social Media Wrap Up – Some Helpful Stuff

2009 has been a fabulous year! When I look back and review the progress made in social media, I see massive accomplishments due to swift adoption and recorded success stories. The year started with only a niche group knowing what social media is. As we end the year, everyone is talking about Twitter, Facebook has 350 million plus users, just about every company is thinking about how they are going to use social media outlets, and numerous companies are reporting successful programs. When you consider that “economic challenges” captured most of the headlines, the results and growth of the social media industry are quite impressive.

One of my objectives in 2009 was to be an advocate for social media by providing a rational bridge between established and sound business and marketing practices, and the emergence of new, supporting social media technologies and communications vehicles. That said, here I provide a summary of the articles I wrote to endorse, promote, and provide education of social media.

Marketing and Brand Marketing
Social Media Conversion and the Social Media Marketing Funnel
What Brands and Social Media Players Can Learn from The Grateful Dead
Awareness – Is it Always Good?
Differentiation When Social Media Moves Towards Mass Adoption
Brands in the Age of Social Media
Using the Social Media “A-path” to Capture Ultimate Customers
Indie Music & Social Media – A Perfect Match

Socialnomics – Social Media ROI or Social Media Measurement?
Measuring the Value of Social Media

Game Plans
Social Media Conversation: I Know You’re Talking, But Are You Listening?
Executable Game Plan for Winning Ultimate Customers with Social Media
Mastering (?) Social Media
Simplifying Social Media
Before You Start with Social Media

Considerations on the Company and Organization
The Social Media MVP in 2010
Winning with Social Media at Your Company: A Letter to the CEO
Social Media – What Companies Are Looking For
What it Will Take for Social Network Profitability

Ramifications on SEO
Social Media cutting SEO spend
Social Media – Should Make Companies Rethink SEO

I appreciate all your input, feedback, and the conversations we have had. We don’t always have to agree, but it is the socialization from a diversity of perspectives and experiences that produce winning and sustainable strategies, plans and execution. Let’s be social and make it happen even bigger in 2010.

Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and best wishes to you and your family,
Social Steve


Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, indie music, marketing, marketing plan, measuring social media, punk music, sales, sales conversion, SEM, SEO, social media, social media marketing, social network, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Twitter, Uncategorized, Word of Mouth Marketing

The Social Media MVP in 2010

There has been significant progress in social media in 2009. Numerous companies have shown interest and are using some form of social media. In the recent report, “Social Media in the 2009 Inc. 500: New Tools & New Trends,” it was stated that 91% of the Inc. 500 companies used at least one social media tool in 2009. Social media is not just for big companies. Just about all companies are either thinking about social media or dipping their toe in the water. Mashable has a great article that provides “tips, tricks, and wisdom” for small companies looking to increase their brand awareness and move targeted customers down the social media marketing funnel.

Given the increased coverage and hype of social media, many “experts” are making their predictions on what we can expect from social media in 2010. Now if I can steal a nice line from a Twiptster I follow, I’m “smart enough not to call myself a guru,” but I have been very active in social media – enough to see many opportunities and challenges.

Given my experience strapping on my helmet and pads and roughing it up on the social media gridiron, I see an opening for a new social media MVP to emerge. That MVP is the company that delivers the Community Officer’s most valued tool, and that tool is the Social Media Suite/Dashboard (SMS/D).

The Social Media Suite/Dashboard has some offense and some defense. On the offense side of the line, the SMS/D is the master control board for all social media outbound “events”. It allows total coordination and management of all social media activities. At a high-level, here are some attributes for the “offense coordinator” of the SMS/D:

Keyword Tester and Keyword List. The Keyword Tester and List module helps determine the appropriate conversation phraseology by keying in on target audience vernacular. The Keyword Test/List ensures that outbound communication distribution and search-worthiness are optimized.
Social Media Outlet List. The Social Media Outlet List keeps track of all the social media outlets used by the organization. To give you some idea of the breadth of choices and how to determine which ones are actually used by your organization, check out “The Conversation Prism.”

The Conversation Prism

Scheduler and Distribution. The Scheduler is the event manager of all outbound communication. It manages, synchronizes, and distributes all communication. “Content releases” are loaded to the scheduler and marked for day/time send and destination. The Distribution Module is for internal use and allows a Community Officer/Manager to send a “social media action request” routed to specific individuals/employees/internal sources. The Community Officer/Manager will send “social media action requests” to various members in an organization. The Distribution Module controls, manages, and provides status reports for all ongoing specific requests/actions (track open and closed items along with alerts and reminders).
Audience Tracker. The Audience Tracker is a control module that allows a complete view of the audience from various applications. It includes a Followers List, Followers Search, Fans List, Fan Search, and more. Each Follower/Fan is classmarked by Social Technographic and A-Path classification.
Filer. The Filer is similar to Windows Explorer. It organizes, manages, and displays the different social media files with varying attributes (created by, modified by, file type, source, dates, etc.).

Now the social media MVP not only plays offense, but defense as well. On the defense side of the line, the SMS/D collects all the information in the digital world (web, blogs, tweets, etc) to capture the conversation happening about your brand, competition, or any searchable criteria. It allows you to collect all the pertinent information to setup a winning offensive game plan and react if needed. The “defense coordinator” is a “Content Aggregator” and “Distribution Module.” The Content Aggregator is an API (application programming interface) that leverages available tools that search all blogs, tweets, and other online outlets to capture every mention of a search criteria entity or keyword. The Content Aggregator displays the “found” content in nice wire-framed windows. Listening and capturing mentions are important and can spawn 1) additional promotion by a Community Officer/Manager, 2) response/continued conversation from appropriate functional groups in your organization (marketing, sales, operations, customer service, etc.), or 3) response to a negative comment. All of the mentions are archived and segmented per different characteristics including sentiment.

The defensive elements are really “listening” attributes, and the offensive elements are the “conversation” and “relationship” pieces in my LCR Mentality that I have written about.

You can get some visual perspective of the 2010 MVP (Social Media Suite/Dashboard) as I envision. The closest things that I have seen are a social media aggregator by Crispin Porter + Bogusky and at a Twitter client application, HootSuite. I think the Crispin Porter site is nicely laid out and is easy to look at for multiple inputs from social media outlets. It is a subset of the listening and defense aspect I described. HootSuite has some good insight with regards to the management of Twitter accounts from a corporate brand perspective. The same perspective needs to be applied to multiple social media environments. So there you have my pick. The expansion of what Crispin Porter has done plus a HootSuite-like offering for all social media environments all integrated into one Social Media Suite/Dashboard … the integration of all these functional characteristics (and others I have not mentioned) into one suite, one dashboard, is going to simplify social media execution and unleash some awesome game plans and wins. This is my vote for the 2010 MVP.

A comprehensive Social Media Suite/Dashboard – this is the MVP at true definition – what an MVP is to their team. The SMS/D will be the go-to “player” that makes a major contribution to the team and makes everyone around them better at what they do. What team will show up at the Super Bowl with the Social Media Suite/Dashboard yielding the execution performance of the year?


Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, marketing, marketing plan, social media, social media marketing, social network, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized, Word of Mouth Marketing

The Social Media Revolution

A few weeks ago, I posted an article about social media going to mass adoption and how you can stand out when so many are adopting social media. There were some comments questioning whether social media was so widely used. Here is a must see video …

Any more questions with regards to social media and the move to mass adoption?

Social Steve

Leave a comment

Filed under marketing, social media, social network, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Indie Music & Social Media – A Perfect Match

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a music junkie.  Music is my drug.  So when a new band puts out great music and uses social media to pass on the word, I could not pass up posting about it.

The band is Fanfarlo.  Truly a great band, they are offering their debut album, Reservoir. $1 through July 4 —

I love the DIY (do it yourself) promotion and the use of social media.  First, they give you an unbelievable deal – $1 for the 11 track album/CD (do we still call it that) PLUS an additional bonus 4 tracks.  After this gracious gift from Fanfarlo who would not help them with a little viral marketing and they make it easy for you.  Fanfarlo’s website provides direct links for you to spread the word on Twitter and Facebook.  I was much obliged to do all three: spend $1 on some great music and then spread the word on my Twitter and Facebook accounts.  Nice use of social media!  Now all they need is a little more integration with some other social media tools … some events scheduled and announced with evite or socilaizr, pictures on flickr, blogs on wordpress, music exclusives at, some live video on, just to name a few.

Hey Fanfarlo, just call Social Steve to unleash more social media power :)

And readers – enjoy Fanfarlo!

Social Steve

Leave a comment

Filed under indie music, social media, social network, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

What it Will Take for Social Network Profitability

The revenue model for social networks, thus far, has mainly been advertisement.  LinkedIn is the only profitable social network and much of this is to attribute to healthy subscription revenue.

When was the last time you clicked through on an internet advertisement?  For that matter, when was the last time you consciously noticed an internet ad?  When click-through rates are measured in decimal points of a percent, does this define a winning campaign? 

Ad initiatives on the internet are an old-school media mentality (TV, publications, etc.) and they are trying to parlay this to an audience that has different behaviors and motivations.  Social Media Marketing MUST be about delivering true customer value – not throwing a million ads up and relying on 100s of  looks; not analysis of usage patterns and then uninvited spamming; not streaming ads that drive away users as reported by David Kaplan. (Streaming Ads Driving Users Away From Content: Report, By David Kaplan – Mon 21 Jan 2008 07:07 PM PST).

Internet ad challenges are even more prevalent on social networks than on other websites.  When users are on the internet, they typically seek information.  When users are on social networks, they are typically there to, well, socialize.  Thus the awareness of ads is even lower on social networks than other internet browsing scenarios.

JP Morgan has a study out called “Nothing But Net – 2009 Investment Guide” which paints a bleak picture for social network profitability.  They stated that social networks could not drive sufficient revenue from an ad-based model to grow profits. Furthermore, they did not expect broad adoption of advertising on social networking sites by large advertisers.  They summarized that for the near to medium term, several significant challenges remained to the ad-based revenue model for social networks. (JP MORGAN Global Equity Research, “Nothing But Net – 2009 Internet Investment Guide,” January 05, 2009. p.10.)

Google has struggled with how to make money through advertising on MySpace and other social sites.  Facebook’s “Beacon Program” met substantial backfire.  Many social network users are disenchanted with advertising practices.  They feel they are being spoofed, spied on, and spammed.  There is an unwritten law of social networks – equal benefit to all players.  Thus there is a need for parallel value for users and brands.

Monetization of social networks has failed thus far for one simple reason … vendors are focused on “what they do” and how to exploit “what they do” on a platform that serves masses (social networks).  Everyone wants to cash in, but they are failing to address simple marketing rules we learned back in Business Administration 101 – deliver value to customers.  This means:

1) Understanding the target market of customers served – Social networks gained adoption because it was a technological innovation that allows individuals with similar interests and backgrounds to connect and exchange “data”.  The two parties (or more) exchanged information without any side looking to have an “advantage”.  All parties are “serviced” equally.  Brands and advertisers now have a large pool of potential customers to market to, IF interest and demographics match.

2) Understanding how and why social networks are used – Many users are disenchanted by the possibility of being advertised and/or spammed to, based on “analysis” as is the case with behavior target (BT) advertisement.  So does this mean that social networks are still fertile ground for vendors and advertisers to reap success – ABSOLUTELY.  But one must understand how and why individuals use social networks.  They use it to socialize Attention to advertisements at a time of socializing is minimal, at best.

3) What can be delivered to the target market to give them incremental value that is distinguishable from what others offer – There needs to be a business model that continues to deliver on the unwritten law of social networks – equal benefit to all – users and brands.  A business model that delivers the highest ROI ever experienced and reduces sales close rates dramatically.  All while delivering unparalleled value to users.

 “Appropriating the model of consumer profiling from social networks might be an interesting path to take.  It gives the user true ownership of the process rather than management of the process, which is where we are now. Imagine a system in which consumers decide how to present themselves to the universe of marketers, much as they do on Facebook.  This is what I need you, the marketer, to know. This is what I want. Make it worth my while, and you can follow me!” (Steve Smith, “Is Opt-in The New Opt-Out?,

There is a model for fair collaboration between users and brands.  One where users can get what they want, retain privacy, and where brands have the highest targeted market.  I have defined a social network monetization model that addresses the challenges mentioned here and I am sure that I am not the only one.  It is just a matter of willingness of social networks and advertisers to play by user’s rules … understanding their behavior and catering to it as opposed to delivering a program that is not attractive to the target market.

Social Steve

1 Comment

Filed under social media, social network, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve