Which Social Media Channels Should You Be Using?

thejordanrules
Jordan Julien Freelance Experience Strategist, Hostile Sheep

Posted on August 23rd 2009

I've categorized and compared 7 social media channels that are currently being used by both B2B and B2C brands. I've suggested which type of brand works best in each channel.

(click here to view full size)

 

Blogs:

Generally, blogs work better for B2B brands because they require a certain level of prior knowledge and interest. The effort required to follow blogs generally means that the audience already has an interest in the industry. That is why there are so many industry-based blogs.

B2C brands can still take advantage of 3rd party blogs; but generally don't get the ROI required to justify maintaining their own blog

Micro-Blog:

For a similar reason, B2C brand's likely won't find the value in maintaining a micro-blog. However there are exceptions, and this particular channel is evolving.

B2C brands are starting to exploit micro-blogging for customer service. Additionally, some B2C brands are figuring out ways to integrate the real-time functionality of micro-blogging platforms into their marketing efforts.

I maintain, that at the present time, this channel is still better suited to B2B brands; but I can recognize that it has value for B2C brands.

Social Networks:

There are many types of social networks; many niche social networks are specifically designed for B2B brands, and, therefore, are better suited for them. (e.g. LinkedIn)

Excluding those social networks that were designed for a niche market; I suggest that social networks are better suited for B2C brands. The reason is that brands can take advantage of being introduced to their potential customers through their friends.

People have the ability to 'discover' brands their friends like. Additionally, many social networks offer in-network multimedia communication options. Example: Facebook allows you to create a dialog with your audience through images, video, text, and interactive applications; while Twitter allows you to create a dialog using text & links only.

B2B brands definitely should take advantage of social networks; but many social networks are better suited for B2C brands.

Video Sharing:

This channel was close to being equally suited for both types of brand; but due to the nature of many recent viral video's and video channels, I suggest this channel is better suited for B2C brands.

Again, it would be a mistake for B2B brands to ignore the potential of this channel; but this channel is often used as functional support to a B2B campaign; rather than the crux of the campaign. (A great exception would be the BooneOakley linked Youtube video set)

Social Bookmarks:

Easy to maintain, and easy to integrate into campaigns. Although these bookmarks might be used more by B2B customers; the SEO opportunities, and findability support makes them just as useful for B2C brands.

In my opinion a good social bookmarking strategy is rare, but could be powerful. If you examine the engagement options available through sites like delicious, stumble upon, and digg; you'll quickly realize that many B2C campaigns do a very poor job integrating this channel with their campaigns. The potential is there, but unrealized.


Image Sharing:

Again, it might seem that this channel is made for the B2B market; but I've seen many great B2C campaigns that involve image sharing sites. Although not as engaging as video sharing sites, image sharing is quick and easy to use.

The integration of image sharing in B2C campaigns helps me conclude that this channel is just as good for the B2C market as the B2B market.


Podcasts:

In the same way blogs are better for B2B brands; I suggest podcast are better for them as well.

Again, there have been B2C branded podcasts that discuss relevant issues to their target audience; but they rarely produce the ROI required to produce them. Many B2C brands that attempted to produce their own podcasts have discontinued their efforts in favor of sponsoring a 3rd party podcast.

 

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thejordanrules

Jordan Julien

Freelance Experience Strategist, Hostile Sheep

I've worked for clients like: GE, Ford, VISA, BMW, Coca-Cola, Telus, Dove, Canadian Tire, AT&T, Microsoft, Soctiabank, Cineplex, AVIVA, Yellow Pages, Honda And worked for agencies like: Razorfish, Wieden + Kennedy, Capital C, TAXI, BBDO, Proximity, Ogilvy One and Trapeze

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Comments

ariherzog
Posted on August 25th 2009 at 12:09AM
Would Social Media Today be a Business or a Consumer in that breakdown? I mean, you're part of it...
thejordanrules
Posted on August 25th 2009 at 12:45AM
I consider Social Media Today to be a Social Network, that's designed for bloggers. I suggest that blogging is better suited for business-to-business communication; therefore Social Media Today is a social network designed for business communication.

Considering Social Media Today is the social network, that would make me one "business", and the readers the other "business"; in the sense that I'm communicating a business message, and the readers can potentially use that message in their business.

 

ariherzog
Posted on August 25th 2009 at 10:00AM
If people contributing to SMT as either bloggers or readers or commenters are businesses, I return to ask what is SMT. Calling it a social network is fine, but is it, itself, a business or a customer in your modeling?

By analogy, you'd call Twitter, Facebook, Bebo, Flickr, and StumbleUpon businesses, right? They have their own organizations of management and staff. They offer social networking services to global users who opt to participate, like SMT does to you, so would SMT be a business, too? Or... if you're the business, is SMT the customer?


MPawlowicz
Posted on August 26th 2009 at 1:50PM
hi,

pls explain the efforts and the reach figures - how did you come up with those and what do they stand for? Are they yours or based on opinion of brands that you interviewed?
thejordanrules
Posted on August 26th 2009 at 2:59PM
Re: Ari - in this post, I'm not calling a particular channel, or site a business - I'm suggesting that a channel is better suited to market to either businesses or customers.

 

Re: MMP - I relied on data I collected from projects I've personally worked on.  Here's how I calculated the numbers:

 

Reach: I used numbers given to me from several sites within each channel. Then averaged them across the channel. Then, compared them to actual unique visitors on several projects I've personally worked on in within each channel, and averaged that number across the channel. I added the two numbers together & divided by 2 to get a final average.

 

I plotted each channel on a scale from 1-10; 10 being the highest reach I averaged for a channel, and 0 meaning it reached no one. I took my highest reach number, divided it by 10 and got the number at which my scale would climb. (i.e. 0=0 1=12,987 2=25,974 etc..)
It should be noted that I took about 60% of the data from projects that I worked on which were marketed nationally in the US; and about 40% which were marketed nationally in Canada.

 

Effort: refers to the number of hours someone needs to spend, plotted on a scale of 1-10, to achieve average reach within 1 year. I relied solely on projects I've worked on personally to provide the data. I examined client teams, and estimated a realistic percentage of time they would have to spend engaged with the project. This was based on stake-holder interviews & sometimes on actual project estimates. I also included the estimated time the digital agency, and PR agency would be spending engaged in a particular channel.

 

I ended up with several projects per channel, and averaged the time evenly between the projects.

 

I took the highest estimate of effort as 10 on my scale, and divided it by 10 to get my increments. Then I plotted the averages.

 

It might not have been the most accurate way to do it, or most scientific; but in my opinion there's value in the matrix.
MPawlowicz
Posted on August 27th 2009 at 6:49AM
Absolutely, there is value in it. I would have combined the numbers with some analytics available out there. Great, effort though and thanks for the explanation.
KevinHorne
Posted on August 27th 2009 at 4:30PM

Are the numbers meant to be relative going ACROSS the matrix?  For example, are you saying Twitter has more reach than "regular" blogs?  That podcasts are only slightly worse in reach than Facebook?  This seems to defy all logic as to penetration data of the various channels...

Thanks for any insight into my question.

thejordanrules
Posted on August 27th 2009 at 5:46PM
Re: Kevin Home:

That is what I'm saying. Keep in mind the methodology I used to generate these numbers doesn't use a very large data-set. The numbers should really be taken as estimates and not analyzed too deeply.

In the case of social networks v.s. podcasts

I totally understand what you're saying, but my research shows that there are large numbers of subscribers to the podcasts I was able to get data from. Also, the social network reach is based on the average reach of a profile or page; tracked by unique views - which doesn't take into consideration the size of the entire network; or reach via applications (i.e. if someone likes Coke, and hears about it on Facebook, but doesn't actually visit the Coke page; that impression wouldn't count in this matrix.)

I know my numbers are a bit skewed; but I still think there's some value in what they tell you. 

KevinHorne
Posted on August 27th 2009 at 5:55PM

Thanks for the follow-up. It makes sense, and you have obviously put a ton more thought into this than the garden-variety scoring chart.

Perhaps you should rename that row the "Julien Reach Factor" and patent it.   ;)

Thx again.

maxOz
Posted on August 27th 2009 at 6:13PM
Thanks Jordan, a wonderful tool for business' wishing to target their market/audience. You have obviously put a lot of foresight and work into this matrix.

Many thanks

Michele (@maxOz)


JamesGurd
Posted on August 28th 2009 at 5:34AM
Hi Jordan,Interesting that you believe micro blogging is more suited to B2B yet include Twitter in social networking. Do you consider Twitter to be a social network? I think it is a mix between the two.I agree that currently Twitter is generally better used by B2B, however there are many excellent B2C examples as you point out, especially in retail. Every man and his dog bangs on about Dell (for obvious reasons!) yet in the UK companies like Accessories Online are doing a wonderful job of building engagement via Twitter.Interesting post. If you had to provide a business case to B2B company to invest in social media, what would your 'killer' points be? Communication, dialogue, brand awareness, lead generation?thanksjames
thejordanrules
Posted on August 28th 2009 at 7:26AM

RE: James Gurd

I'm not sure where I suggested that Twitter is a social network. In the matrix, I suggest it's a micro-blog.

In a sense, I think all of the channels have a social network element built into them; but I focused on how they're primarily used.

I agree that there are some great examples of B2C brands making use of Twitter; Zappos!, Amazon, Dell are all great examples; however I think they all could engage more powerfully, and hit more of their target through social networks. (except for maybe Dell - remember Dell is also a B2B brand)

As far as creating a business case for a B2B company to invest in social media; I think all your points are great. It really depends on the business, what they sell, who their competition is, & how much they already know about social media. I did write a post recently outlining some reasons even the most reluctant businesses should consider engaging social media "The Pervasive Reach of Social Media"  Let me know what you think.

 

(long link: http://thejordanrules.posterous.com/the-pervasive-reach-of-social-media)


thejordanrules
Posted on August 30th 2009 at 4:56PM
Re Steve: Sorry about the delayed response.

I'm not 100% sure what you mean; but if you mean a TV-like series of programs produced specifically for the internet, it's just another type of content.

The matrix categorizes the way you distribute that content. There are several ways to distribute video. If you go through YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler, Blip.tv then you're distributing your content through a Video Sharing site. But you don't have to; you can post videos to your blog, or Facebook, or Myspace, or as Podcasts.

Depending who your audience is, the matrix can help you decide which are the best channels to distribute your content to.

thejordanrules
Posted on September 1st 2009 at 5:20PM
Yes, I've posted a 2nd part to this post - dedicated to which social media channels you should be using for personal branding. If you're interested, have a look here: http://www.socialmediatoday.com/SMC/120573
reshma28
Posted on January 19th 2013 at 2:48AM

Thanks there was a very nice approach of differentiating the things..I thought its really helpful for beginners like me in social media