ConfusedIf you’re involved in social media at all, one of the impressions that you probably work hard to shed is that social media is easy. No, it’s not as simple as simply setting up a Twitter page and no, if you create a video and simply post it onto YouTube, it will not automatically become “viral”. But perhaps one of the most popular myths out there is that there should be just one person responsible for the entire social media process – this includes campaigns, planning, analytics, etc. And just which department does this person report to? Is it the public relations or marketing department? Are you using it for a sales tool? Then why not the sales team?  Wait, so you’re telling me that social media doesn’t belong to just one department?

Dubunking the myth

Yup, that’s right…it’s one big myth. Social media has never belonged to just one person. Sure, it’s been managed by one person, but the sole responsibility should not lie within that one role. Throughout the entire company’s sales cycle, the duties to engage with customers and be a part of that conversation rests with everyone in the company. In fact, everyone should have a vested interest in seeing it through to the end as less sales means less money means less business…and do we need to talk about what happens when there’s less business? The point here is that social media has become the virtual network for multiple opportunities for a company to reach out and help produce more sales.

One problem that social media professionals have to worry about (among many) is just how can get get any buy in from their executives and people from around the company? One of the ways I’ve heard works is showing them actual statistics and trends. But if you don’t have one, what’s the next best thing? Infographics! And it just so happens that I have one right here that you can pass around called The Content Grid.

The Content Grid is a guide all businesses can use to manage their social media

Yes, that’s right…The Content Grid. Designed by the design agency JESS3 for the marketing automation company Eloqua, The Content Grid is a infographic that sheds such much needed light on two problems:

  1. Why should more people in the organization form a committee to manage social media
  2. How do you design a content marketing strategy that appeals to individuals.

The Content GridSo what does The Content Grid actually do? It’s a symbolic representation and visualization on what the average business sales cycle is and how the different social networks and interactive tools currently in existence fit into it. If you look at The Content Grid, you’ll notice that it’s divided up into four main areas: awareness vs consideration and centralized vs decentralized. Why is this important? Because you’re trying to use social media to help reach out to your customers along various parts of the sales cycle and awareness and consideration are the two extremes. The other side is reflective of how much control you want to have while managing customer relationships. And then, of course, you have the “happy medium” or “perfect storm” where all four sections of the circle collide with one another.

As part of a business, The Content Grid is really important to understand since it illustrates more than just your social media strategy. In fact, look closely and you’ll notice that there are circles scattered throughout the grid. These weren’t placed there just to make the Grid look pretty. Rather, they’re strategically placed and there’s a meaning behind its placement. For example, if you look at the Grid, you’ll see a circle labeled “Article” and then another one labeled “Widget”. The difference between these two is their positioning – articles are less centralized than widgets, but are used in the earlier stages of the sales cycle. The positioning is key when trying to decipher The Content Grid.

When creating your content marketing strategy, remember to think more about reaching out to your customers through the areas where you won’t have that much control – this is your decentralized area of The Content Grid. It is here where you’re going to find that in this vast frontier of Internet “lawlessness”, the only true rule here is the wisdom of the crowd, not taking whatever the company spits out. So it is crucial for you to empower your team to reach out in these areas and help influence people who are moving from being aware of your product to considering actually purchasing the item. It is at this point where your effort should be spent trying to break through the noise and the crowd to be the “voice of reason” and show people that you’re hearing their needs and paying attention.

Going back to the centralized versus decentralized zones of The Content Grid, the difference here is that it’s a matter of control. As you can see in the grid, the services and tools listed in the centralized zone are those most controlled by the company itself – the public has no input and the content produced is closely guarded. However, on the other extreme, the decentralized zone is the area where the public and the crowd have all the control. The tools associated in this area are reflective of the community’s sandbox. To be admitted, you have to learn how to play nice and understand the rules of the playground. It’s here where a majority (if not all) of social networks probably rest because, let’s face it, a social network that doesn’t belong to the crowd really isn’t a social network.

The Content Grid is a powerful resource that should be used to help guide you in understanding the power behind social media and to help offer advice in shaping your content strategy. You can read more about this infographic on the Eloqua blog by clicking here.

Photo Credit: Stacib / sxc.hu

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    • Robert Edmonds

      Another great article, Kenneth.

      You make a great point about social media not belonging to just one person. I work for an SEO company and we all created accounts in various social media networks. Regularly, we update what we are doing and say new releases we are about to have. In fact, having different employee's post their updates/comments about what they are doing for the company led to different responses by different crowds on how we could improve our processes and products. As a result, or new free web page analysis tool is more friendly than ever!

      I invite you and your readers to sign up for our beta release of our re-enginnered free SEO analysis tool and look forward to any feedback.

    • kellybriefworld

      Social media is much much more than a one person job, but it is essential that it be used to its fullest potential, Productivity in the workplace can be hindered but also heightened depending on the usage of the application. Companies choose to block or not block social media apps. Unfortunately they are missing out on that grey area where social media apps can be utilized to further innovation and productivity. Palo Alto Networks came out with this whitepaper talking about how to block social media apps and when it is appropriate to let employees utilize these apps productively. To block or not? Check it out: http://bit.ly/d2NZRp