Mapping out a marketing strategy is hard work … even when you have all the templates, approaches and tools at your fingertips, there is no substitute for deep thinking, creative play and brand insight. I guess, this is where you really earn your crust.
But when you extend your marketing strategy into the world of social media, it all becomes a lot murkier. You are dealing with a range of emerging networks and application systems, communities that are in a perpetual state of flux (growth and decline) and technologies that are unreliable.

One of the best ways of visualising this that I have seen is in this post by David Armano. It shows how the fragmentation of the social media landscape can both help and hinder the execution of your social media strategy. What the diagram shows is the multiple levels of influence that a brand has … often simultaneously. The ripples that occur on the level of an open network (such as the blogosphere) are amplified once they cross-over from the open network into the closed networks of personal/professional relationships (such as Facebook).

But how does this work and why is this important?

MaslowripplesSome time ago I wrote a post on how it might be possible to apply Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to the world of blogging. What I was trying to do was think through the connection between personal authenticity and writing, and attempting to explain the impact of this authenticity on a community. It seems to me, that the closer a blogger gets to the top of the blogger’s hierarchy, the more likely the community is likely to move from influence to action. Think about it … a recommendation from someone you trust is likely to move you to action pretty quickly. So if we superimpose the Maslow hierarchy on top of David’s Influence Ripples image, we end up with something like the diagram above (ok I hit a wall on the design side).

What is important to remember in all this, is as the ripple becomes more amplified (getting closer to the pinnacle of the pyramid), the NATURE of the engagement between media and community/audience changes. It becomes more personal. It becomes permissive. It intensifies. And it is this intensification that, in turn, drives the approach that brands must take when developing the messaging, conversational frameworks and activation elements of their digital strategies. Simple? My head hurts.