Social Symphony

THE FOUR DISCIPLINES OF SOCIAL MARKETING Social Conversation, Social Activity, Social Media and Social Commerce

Gunther Koo - Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Social marketing has to many definitions.  We need to clearly define it. Lock it down to easily understandable concepts and processes. This post is intended to start the conversation. Read it. Speak up. Let us know how you see it and where you fit. The purpose of social marketing is to create repeated value exchanges and commercial moments between brands and people in social settings. To do this requires playing together these multiple areas of social focus, I believe brands should engage all four disciplines of Social Marketing:  Social Conversation, Social Activity, Social Media and Social Commerce to successfully reach their audiences in the social facets people now utilize most often.  And while many brands have figured out one or more of these disciplines brilliantly, as they take more social control of their products, it will be important to engage all four disciplines. Below is a brief description of each  discipline along with  a sampling of the players involved in each area. I hope the noted players and others not mentioned take the opportunity to chime in and clarify where they believe they belong. 


1. Social Conversation - Brands talking directly with people. The start to finish of brands setting up and running a facebook page, twitter streams multiple blogs message boards, IM, mobile and other social spaces where people and brands have direct communication. Conversation is the discipline that figures out all the pieces needed to make them successful. This work is performed by companies that help brands enable and optimize direct conversation, strategy, social identity, execution, listening, curation and optimization. Companies helping brands with social conversation include Buddy Media, Vitrue, Social Symphony, Context Optional and Radian6 and a host of others. 

2. Social Activity - all activity performed by people in apps, web and mobile.  Brands influence people in social spaces that play games, give gifts, go on missions, chat, enter contests, share pictures, challenge friends, check in and update status. These are Social Activities where brands can creatively sponsor and support the social activity to positively influence people. Some of the companies in the activity space are Zynga, AppSavvy, Meebo, Pandora, Foursquare, and SCVNGR. These companies are all based on creating relevant ways that brands can align with people inside and during social activity. 

3. Social media- The display ads in social spaces. This is the most traditional form of advertising of the group. Display ads float around activity and conversation. The companies succeeding here today attract large numbers of people engaged in social activities and include facebook, Pandora, Linked In and Twitter to name a few. These ads should be targeted, social in nature and match the people in the social spaces where they are displayed.  Third party ad networks, ad exchanges, specialty social media buyers and traditional media buyers are helping to evolve this area. 

4. Social Commerce – People organized for the purpose of shared commerce Multiple forms are emerging from the simple to the complex. The common theme is that these brands are using social tools to get people to buy and/or to become an integrated part of the social commerce platform. This includes companies focused on reviews, recommendations, platforms, storefronts, group buying, daily deals, sharing coupons, private sales and memberships.  Some of these companies are Yelp, BzzAgent, Bazaarvoice, GroupOn, Living Social, Shopkick and Gilt. 

ALL THIS NEEDS TO WORK TOGETHER AND SO DO WE There are many companies claiming they execute all four disciplines successfully however, I believe that because Social has such clear divisions that no one company has been able to successfully coalesce all four disciplines.  Imagine how well conversation can amplify the activity, how activity can heighten media and how they all can stimulate commerce. Working together, the four disciplines will become welcome and people will embrace them. So speak up. Where do you fit? What strikes the right chord for you?