Convergence in the Social Web Ecosystem
In order to explain convergence in new communications we need to move beyond a single dimension to build interactive ecosystems. They will be based on channels, media, platforms and Social Web tools to create both internal and external communication and marketing processes that enable us to implement an online strategy for our company.
The Social Web's Ecosystem: History
Every day, Mashable, Social Media Today, SmartBrief, Fast Company or Tech Crunch surprise us with new social platforms and tools that become a part of what I call the Social web universe. When I wake up I start to think about how many platforms and channels I'm missing out on every hour I'm sleeping. Why sleep? That universe is part of what they call the jungle, a place where everyone is trying to feast on each other for survival, the perfect metaphor to describe the business world. As I say is that it all depends on your approach: a biologist would see an ecosystem where we see a jungle, and that's a term which I think is brilliant to talk about the Social Web.
When I was in London, meeting with the guys at Blur Marketing with whom I collaborated as Social Media advisor, I met a visionary guy who made me think about the way to integrate the Social Web in the communication process. And so I worked on the ecosystem concept to redefine a company's social communication process.
Biologists have developed a classification system to group animals, plants, bacteria, fungi and protists inhabiting the ecosystem into categories. Using such a system makes it easier to talk about the living world. Right, so using such a system for the overall Social Web may come in handy to understand the role that these "organisms" play in our environment and what changes arise in communication. However, and this is no biggie, the Social Web hasn't been the topic of debate and discussion for 300 years and there still isn't a universally accepted classification for the system of tools and platforms that the Social Web has to offer, its different implementations or channels. This really isn't too important, we just need to go on about this for another 300 years...
I don't believe I'll live that long, so I've taken a small sample and classified them into sizeable categories that may help us visualize and understand how to integrate many of these social platforms, tools, media and channels we use today and in what processes... and some we won't use just yet.
Social Web Ecosystem
What follows is what I've called the Social Web Ecosystem, and is valid for individuals and companies alike.
1. The outer ring of the social web ecosystem is the social implementation ring. It runs around the social platforms which form the first level: social interaction ring. We can find a great variety of tools within the area of social implementation that will help us redefine the internal communication process, although we may also use an inside-out approach since many of its components work as amplifiers on the scope of social platforms. Example: active listening can work on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogs or Flickr, depending on the particular features of each of these tools.
Social tools are also used to interact with the WE-B and different social media "organisms". As you can see, many of them are connected through the first social interaction ring.
2. Any communication process - the outermost ring - is started through the social interaction ring. Each of the spheres represents a category of different social media "organisms". We have to make sure that each one seeks a specific objective within the ecosystem. That is why it's important to appoint a different use to each of the elements that make up the ecosystem. Of course, like the elements on the social implementation ring, they also play a role: internal, external, support, amplifier, attribution, scope or complement to the social platforms (first ring). However, the true power of this ring is the relationship that exists between the different agents (as I explained in the Social Media Integration Model which was published by Social Media Today many years ago) and how they interact to make the multidimensional functioning of the ecosystem possible.
3. We are the WE-B and everything spins around this: people and their environment, interactions and human relations that take place online and which have an effect beyond the Internet. People are the true core of the Social Web ecosystem; we're at the centre of it all. Human Business Interactions take place through the WE-B, allowing the process to create interactive social media ecosystems based on resonance and emotional alignment with the different parts involved in the process. This means that the available tools, media and objectives can be used to make people, communities and companies generate business opportunities.
How to Use it
As you can see, I have assigned a use to each of the ecosystem's "organisms", assigning different functionalities trying to avoid any overlap. There will inevitably be some overlapping. This is when the singular features of each element and the opportunities to segment factors come into play, together with the implementation and interaction with different areas. That is where its greatest potential is reached.
Take these tools and platforms and develop a strategy that makes sense based on the use you will give each of them, geared towards one or two objectives. Set tactics, resources and a timetable for each of them. When you've finished, you will realise that you have designed an ecosystem that is custom-built for your company. By the way, it looks fantastic!
I've already come up with one, two or three uses for each platform and tool. Some will be complementary, others will be different. The main idea is that when you look at "the big picture" (the overall ecosystem) you will have built an online strategy.
Your mileage is OK
There are different paths to reach the same place. That's why I'm sure you will find, or indeed may already have, your own ecosystem that is just as valid or even better than this one. If that's the case, great! Otherwise, I hope I've been able to help you to slowly redefine your company's communication process.
I've tried to streamline the process to make it more efficient. That's why I've used the tools and platforms that best fit any company's ecosystem (that is, in any company's communication process) taking into account the expertise and practical knowledge I've accumulated over the years. The use of such an ecosystem doesn't exclude the use of offline media; rather it is a complement to such use, but that's another story (perhaps for another post!).
What do you think? Was this of help? Does it make sense? Could you redefine your company's brand communication process using something similar to this? When you draw your ecosystem on the Social Web, what does it look like?
Would you like a high-res version of the diagram? Contact me on Twitter or let me know privately so you can get it through the letterbox soon!
Thank you to Odosdesign for such a fantastic design of the ecosystem I had in my mind.