Screw Who ‘Owns’ Social Media, The Content Grid Decides It All

One of the constant issues that comes to mind when dealing with web marketing is who owns what. This is probably a more important issue when dealing with social media because a  major part of this solution is dependent on the creation of content. Without the content in place, there’s no context and people won’t know what to write about, tweet about, share on Facebook, or post on YouTube.

For businesses, content is king…just read Paul Carr’s recent post on tech blog TechCrunch. Okay, now the message that I’m trying to convey might be lost in Carr’s article, but I believe that the more powerful and relevant the content you are producing, the better engaged your audience will be.

More Receptive = More Call To Action = Bigger ROI = Happier People

But oftentimes, businesses are plagued with just whose responsibility it is to manage and produce said content.

It’s not my job”, says the public relations guy.

It belongs to Marketing“, says the business development guy.

Salespeople need to write the content so they can sell more“, says the marketing guy.

Yes, it is very confusing, and social media was not meant to be siloed within one department in a company. It was meant to be enjoyed by all and until now, it was pretty much a fly-by-night type operation where people just didn’t know if there was a benchmark on how to discern who would produce what kind of content. Well…that is, until now.

Through the work of graphic design group JESS3 and marketing automation professionals at Eloqua, a new type of standard was created. Called The Content Grid, this chart is designed for use in helping people understand and organize the way content is extracted by various Subject Matter Experts within an organization and then produced on the appropriate social media services — whether it should be Twitter, YouTube, slideshows, ebooks, blogs, images, etc. By using this “framework for inbound/content marketing”, businesses will be able to plot content types in collaboration with distribution channels to find out where it will have the maximum impact.

The Content Grid proves that social media must be owned by the team, not one person

If you take a look at The Content Grid, you’re going to see that inside the circle, there’s a wide assortment of content pieces that can lead either toward a more centralized, decentralized, consideration or awareness part of the grid. However, look closely enough and you’ll see that a huge chunk of the social media tools listed in the grid are designated as things internal teams should either influence or own. This is a really important point because not only does it highlight that not one man/woman runs the social media environment within a company, but that to be truly social, you’ll need to have a community and it truly does take a village to build one up. So getting everyone in your office involved from the receptionist to the CEO is crucial – look at your audience and see who is interested in talking to whom:

  • Are more people wanting content designed around the selling process?
  • Do people want to know more about partnerships?
  • Are other CEOs or fellow executives interested in what your company is doing?
  • We want case studies.

Centralized or Decentralized? Consideration or Awareness?

As I pointed out earlier, The Content Grid is broken up into four main areas: centralized, decentralized, consideration and awareness. So what’s the difference between the two and how does The Content Grid help you figure these things out? Well from the top to the bottom, it’s a level of control that consumers and what your business is comfortable with. From left to right, it’s just a look at the process from people being aware your product/company exists to one of consideration in the sales cycle – they may buy your product!

From a business standpoint, you’re going to need to look at The Content Grid to see what will work best for your product. The Content Grid almost acts as a double-edged sword because it tells you that if you want to have more control, then you should be using widgets, interactive demos, Wikipedia articles, how-to videos, etc., but if you want to be looser and let the crowd control the content, then there are services like Facebook, blogs, YouTube, Twitter, etc.

In looking more in-depth, the placement of these service “circles” on The Content Grid is strategic — they can’t be moved. They tell you pretty much how close they are to the different extremes. A widget and interactive demo will almost always be centralized and controlled from within the company because there’s no real way for a consumer to control that. But when you’re talking with a Wikipedia entry, that is a bit in the halfway point. The content is affected both by the company and by the crowd.

This same process goes for the difference between awareness and consideration. For people interested in learning more about the product and understanding its existence, then the best way would be through viral videos, press releases and articles — you’ll notice that the last two are fairly close to the Centralized portion of The Content Grid. It’s strategic placement as well. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ll have those who are considering some sort of action for your product. These services that should be leveraged include case studies, email, whitepapers and webinars.

Don’t Ignore the Importance of Teamwork in Social Media

Now that we’ve defined the four parts of The Content Grid, let’s understand that within the grid, there’s a big part for a company to pay attention to. Earlier, I mentioned that social media is to be handled by everyone on the team and that The Content Grid proves this. If you look more closely, you’re going to see that the folks at JESS3 and Eloqua have highlighted that your staff should be heavily involved in most of the areas around the decentralized content and also more in the awareness section.


It’s because this is when you have the best opportunity to make a great opportunity. When people are starting to look for new products or have a problem, they need help finding a solution. Your company name or brand may not pop up immediately so what are you going to do? You can’t solicit them right away but you need to be where they are so that you can be influential. Sure, you’re not going to send in your sales team right away, but probably rather your marketing folks or just someone in your social media team to just chat with them to find out what they’re looking for (yes, the Zappos example does come to mind).

But why not in the centralized or consideration parts of The Content Grid?

It’s because your consumers don’t want to be in an area where they know that the ultimate motive is to get a sale. They want to be in a more decentralized and leisurely area where they can freely solicit answers from a variety of sources without finding out that the guy who referred a product to them was just the sales guy for that company. Transparency, authenticity and citizenship are key in the decentralized zone.

As for the consideration part, the consumers are already looking at your product so you don’t need to be heavily involved in influencing them, but you should still be involved in the process to an extent. The big push for a business is being in the less controlled areas — call it the Internet badlands — and going out and meeting the people and building their trust.

What’s the Benefit of Using The Content Grid?

The Content Grid is designed to accomplish a few things. According to Leslie Bradshaw (@lesliebradshaw), President and co-founder of JESS3, “It is meant to help organizations figure out — and work through — oft-asked, burning questions about social media“. Some of these questions include:

  1. Which platform works best for what we are trying to achieve?
  2. Where does social media figure in the purchase funnel/sales cycle?
  3. Who should “own” social media?
  4. How can we utilize social channels outside of just Facebook and Twitter?

One thing to keep in mind, like the Conversation Prism and the Social Compass (both designed by JESS3), The Content Grid is meant to act as a guide and not a marketing bible. It should be used to help steer your thoughts in a general direction to help you understand the next step in your process. I think that it offers up a whole new level in helping produce quality content which will bring you one step closer to bringing in more sales.

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