Discovering The Social Marketing Compass To Help Chart Our Course Through Social Media

We’ve all become exposed to a slew of social media tools and services that businesses might be interested in pursuing. But are we simply suffering from the dreaded shiny metal object theory? How can we present and validate our programs to our bosses instead of having our company viewed as taking advantage of the “flavor of the month?”

Admit it: when you read about new tools and services at the latest conference, event, tweetup, blog, or publication, one of the things you’ve thought about is implementing them for your company. But we can’t all think short-term. Instead, we need to think more strategically and look at the logistics to help accomplish our marketing objectives.

For social media, more companies seem to be choosing this medium as a means to reach out and “engage” with their customers. But to help guide us to the right path toward customer satisfaction and effective messaging, a good guide would be the Social Marketing Compass by Brian Solis.

How the Infographic Impacts Social Media

By definition, a compass is “a device for discovering orientation and serves as a true indicator of physical direction.” What this means is that it will point you in the right direction. In this instance, the Social Marketing Compass is a concept designed to help you discover your orientation when it comes to implementing a social media campaign.

Amidst the influx of various tools and services, consider using the Compass to orient yourself. This will help you concentrate on maximizing your message and creating an effective program.

Why do we choose a compass to guide us in this case?

In his new book Engage, Solis states that “the Social Marketing Compass is ‘inspired’ by the moral compass – it’s designed to serve as our value system when we’re also defining our program activities.” Solis created the Compass as a means to help brands find their direction to genuinely and effectively connect with their audience online.

Social Marketing Compass vs. Conversation Prism

You might wonder why there’s yet another concept designed to help people and businesses figure out their social media strategy. Some may think that the Social Marketing Compass is similar to yet another one of Brian Solis’s creations: the Conversation Prism. While there are some overflows for what each concept is talking about, I think that these two are quite complementary.

While both ideas by Solis are centered around a brand, there are some differences. For example, the Conversation Prism helps illustrate how brands can work on creating, what else? Conversation.

Examine how your business communicates with customers. Based on the message you intend to convey—whether it’s corporate communication, product and sales, crisis communication, or other types—the Prism is designed to guide you to the appropriate tools for leveraging.

Essentially, the Conversation Prism looks more tactically and highlights the services you might want to use.

With the Social Marketing Compass, you still start by looking at the inner circle, that being the brand. From there, you look more strategically at the tools that you have at your disposal. It’s not that you need to use services like Twitter or Facebook, but rather from a much higher elevation, you’ll be able to discover that user-generated content or maybe even blogs or mobile communities are your focus.

To put it frankly, the Compass is looking at your global marketing efforts and helping you to align social marketing’s involvement with your overall objectives and goals. The Conversation Prism is going to look at the individual campaigns and objectives you formulate from the 50,000 ft view and then help you boil it down into bite-size marketing tasks that you can run.

Dissecting the Social Marketing Compass

When examining the Social Marketing Compass, you might find it daunting at first. You may feel unsure about where to start and how this tool is supposed to work. The complexity raises questions about how any business can comprehend its marketing objectives if the tool itself seems intricate.

The Brand, Players and Platform

If you look at the Compass as comprised of one large circle with multiple inner circles, each sub-circle can rotate to align itself based on a variety of permutations that could happen — and it all starts with the only true constant: the brand. After all, everything you do in marketing must revolve around the brand. That’s who you’re working for.

From here, you can look at some of the key players that are who you’ll want to reach out to through your social media marketing strategy. Solis asserts that “fundamentally, the players define how, when, why, and to what extent our activity is intermediated across the Social Web.” Now, the question arises: who are these players? They’re not the average consumer. Why? Because with social marketing, the point is to maximize reach with as little effort as possible, in a good way, of course.

If you look at the Social Marketing Compass, it highlights a select group of players. These are the people that you know both internally and externally from a company and are also influential in your industry. These are your stakeholders, bloggers, traditional media, evangelists/champions, trendsetters and anyone else who has a large enough voice for you to consider as someone who you might pay attention to.

From here, you’re going to look at the other parts of the Social Marketing Compass moving outward. Once you know the audience/players that you want to reach out to to help market your product, then you’ll need to see where the Compass guides you (figuratively speaking) to the platform. It’s in this phase of your course planning that you’ll look at the players and find out what platform they use as their proverbial soapbox.

Where will these players be connecting, communicating or congregating? I suppose you could think of it like you wanted to reach religious people…you are the brand and the player is the priest. The platform to which to reach him to spread your message is through the pulpit in the church. When it comes to social media, one of the things you’ll need to explore is what are the existing and emerging platforms out there that you might tend to see these players hang out at.

Channels and Emotions

Once you’ve figured out the platform that the players are using as their pulpit, then you can move one more circle outward on the Social Marketing Compass. It’s here where you need to use the Compass to guide you toward the right channels to which all your outreach and activity will be streamed.

One thing that Solis makes clear in his book “Engage” is that the platforms don’t have to be singular, but could be multiples. So your player could be in the mobile AND social network platform. It’s understanding this multiple-platform system where channels come into play. After all, Solis believes that through these channels the platforms are supported and connected. It’s also through this system that we understand that messages could also be amplified and help increase our reach and resonance.

Perhaps one of the strongest things that marketing always invokes is emotion. This is the outer-most circle in the Social Marketing Compass. For a marketing strategy designed to entice people to pay attention to your product and marketing, one of the key things marketers seem to want to do is to tie in their marketing with some emotion. Social media is no different. Solis highlights that “the socialization of the Web is powered by people.” Consequently, since people have emotions, it’s essential to recognize that emotions will always come into play when individuals think about a company.

Take, for example, the oil spill happening in the Gulf of Mexico. If BP was interested in reaching out to people telling them that they care about the environment and were using the Social Marketing Compass, one of the things they would need to worry about is the emotion that this campaign would bring out from the recipient. Would they be empathetic? Would they reciprocate the same feeling? Or would they be more empowered?

There are several emotions tied in with the Compass and one of the things that you’ll need to figure out is just how will your Compass guide you as you look at the emotion circle and relate it to the message you drive to the players you want to reach.

A Social Media Marketing Program Guide

Just because the Social Marketing Compass might resemble that of being an actual compass doesn’t mean that it will behave exactly like one. The word “compass” should only tell you that it’s going to be a guide and NOT a direction finder. Why? Because you’re going to discover (no pun intended) that the circles in the Compass will change frequently and could often lead to multiple choices. The circles also may not rotate in the same manner as well.

While you’re looking to reach out to traditional media, one time it might lead you to go after them using a mobile platform but through another channel and deploying a different emotion. Not all results should or probably will be the same.

The Social Marketing Compass can lead you in multiple directions and can help you succeed if you analyze and understand the choices it makes, but be aware that countless permutations could result from using the Compass. One thing is for certain, the Social Marketing Compass won’t steer you wrong, and you’ll be able to chart your way through any marketing strategy with this in hand.

6 responses to “Discovering The Social Marketing Compass To Help Chart Our Course Through Social Media”

  1. Vonbrucken Avatar

    Interesting reading, thanks !

  2. Vonbrucken Avatar

    Interesting reading, thanks !

  3. Angel Lexi_12 Avatar
    Angel Lexi_12

    thx really

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