Monday, July 26, 2010

The 4 Cs of Social Media

Social Media, Auckland, New Zealand. Social Media NZ, Social Media Club
Be it New York or New Zealand, digital or direct, hand-held or ambient, traditional or social... primarily, all media are means of communication.

What's different about social media is owing to its speed & size, it's not as easy to define its basic framework. To understand SM at a glance, I've drawn a simple sketch to illustrate what lies at its core.

4 Cs of Social Media - the basic framework


Collaboration is the spirit of social media. Call it participation, sharing or engagement, it's what puts the "social" in social media. Without sounding too psycho-babble, it's the behavioural glue that builds & binds online networks. It actually works on the oldest of truisms - Man is a social animal... and modern man, an attention-loving beast!


Content is King. And quality content is organic ranking (even without those SEOs!) Clearly, we're living in an Information Age, where everything is media and everyone is a media channel. As a result, user-generated content is popping up everywhere at never-before rates - created by people like you & me. Consume it. Create it. Share it. Love it. Hate it. Enjoy it. Just don't try keeping pace with it.

Sample this UGC nugget - 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every 60 seconds - that's 1 day of content for every 1 minute!

Conversation is social media in action. Without it, social media wouldn't be. Content (good or bad) leads to an opinion and when two or more opinions concur (or collide), it strikes (or sparks) a conversation.

What's more, opinions are like arseholes. Everyone's got at least one:) (anyway, back to work!) Feeds, updates, tweets, retweets, comments, likes, share bars, embed codes, reviews, ratings, links - are the lifeblood of conversation.

And the truth is, people share things they like with their family, friends,  fans, followers - at different places, at different times, in different ways. The true test of good content lies in its talkability = the ability to generate WOM by jumping across social networks and even, media platforms. That in a nutshell, is how content goes viral and it's truly social art when it does.


Community creation is the whole point of social media. A direct consequence of collaboration, communities form when people with a common point of interest come together on social networks. It is the interaction within & across communities that creates connections, and it is here the SM strategy comes into effect.

The Quality of the Connection is where it's at.

The end goal of all business is profit creation via customer generation.

For most companies, CRM, corporate communications/ PR, advertising & marketing and direct sales is where social media comes in. SM allows a forum to connect with existing customers (and reach out to potential ones) - closer, faster and easier than ever before.

Marketers considering social media in the mix may ask "What separates one SM initiative from the other?" Answer: The quality of the connection with the community = volume, frequency and depth of interaction. Before setting up a corporate feed, decision-makers and stakeholders need to devise a carefully thought out SM strategy factoring in things like:
  • Could it result in better customer service?
  • Could it result in better brand equity?
  • Could it lead to a better end experience for the consumer?
  • Could it increase customer satisfaction?
  • How open and transparent should we be?
  • What's our contingency plan in case shit hits the fan?
  • Who looks after SM - who takes the calls & who mans the decks? 
  • Which are the right SM tools for our business?
  • Do we have the systems to channel feedback into the product?
  • What other media should we integrate with for best results?
  • How do we measure ROI?

Social Media is for doers. It is on-going.

The trick is to never stop asking questions and the answers can only be found by doing. While Just Do It, Listen & Learn, Keep it Real, Explore & Experiment, Measure & Monitor, Filter and Integrate are handy mantras, here are 3 things to remember:
  1. You don't control the conversation, you facilitate it
  2. Your community is your brand (and key business driver)
  3. On-going community management is the way to success

Social Media's star on the rise in NZ

A recent study of Kiwis participating in social networks drew up encouraging statistics. Here's a snapshot of Nielsen's 2010 Social Media Report.

With Facebook crossing the 500 million user milestone (that's one in 14 humans) last week, SM has only just begun. Might as well get social with it.
Social Media, Auckland, New Zealand. Social Media NZ, Social Media Club


  1. Great write-up on the cornerstones, Amar! I'm interested to know if you're working with ad agencies on social media and how NZ ad shops are integrating conversation into their strategies (or if they are)? Seems like the best integration is coming from in-house, as I guess one would expect. =)

  2. Thanks for stopping by Andrea.

    Just a fortnight ago (at #SMNZlaunch), the role ad agencies play in Social Media and how they generate revenue via SM was discussed. Clearly the ad industry is at crossroads with all agencies bar none recommending SM, but few going ahead and stepping into the water - owing largely to the depth of involvement and long-term commitment required.

    That's the reason why in-house is winning right now - but I think it's a temporary situation.

    With the SM scene rationalizing and Analytics & ROI measurement rising on the horizon, it's not too far (I sure hope) when ad agencies ramp up their SM capabilities, just as they now have in-house digital copywriters & web-savvy art directors.

    At the end of day, SM's just another tool in the toolkit, it's all about communication, and the basic principles, they remain the same.

  3. howdi Amar
    love your 4 pillars :-) my concern for social media is that it will follow the same path SEO did in its infancy. you know where a few agencies/experts dabbled in it not knowing exactly what they were doing or how to sell it. SEO became tainted with the brush "that it doesn't work" SEO does work!! SMO does work!!! but the ad agencies are selling it as a marketing tool - this isn't gonna work. yeah sure SM can be used as an integrated part of a campaign. this will work....for the campaign. but to harness the full potential/the full power of SM on a business level corporates need to understand that SM needs to become part of business culture with all in their organizations getting involved in the conversation. SM in the business world is not a marketing function. SM is the function of every department.