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Understanding The Functional Building Blocks Of Social Media

Understanding The Functional Building Blocks Of Social Media

Social Media is everywhere. Everyone uses Facebook right from school children to housewife’s, working men and women to elderly citizens. Many celebrities, well known politicians, business leaders and working professionals use twitter. Other social media sites like Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and blogs are popular among the users. With this rise in Social Media, Corporate communication is democratized, people talk about brands, products and services all the time. People do a thorough research on social media about products, they write reviews, compare prices etc. People look forward to a two way communication between brands and themselves. It is now up to the corporates either to ignore Social Media or be a part of this ever growing community. Corporates shy away as they find it difficult to understand this rich and diverse medium. Which sites to be a part of and which to ignore? How each platform is different from the other? How to develop marketing strategy for each platform? What should be the overall Social Media Strategy?

To answer these questions we present 7 Social Media Building Blocks. One can use these blocks either individually or together. It will help managers to improve their understanding of Social Media, make appropriate social media choices and increase engagement with their audience.

7 Functional Building Blocks of Social Media

7 Building Blocks

  • Identity Block: It represent the extent to which people are ready to reveal about their true self and how much they care about who sees and what happens with the personal information they have shared online. Sometimes they gladly share their specific details like name, age, birth date and year, employment details, city and country of residence, educational details, marital status, areas of interest and so on whereas sometimes they prefer to remain completely anonymous. Firms need to understand how members in its audience prefer to balance between revealing their true identities and protecting their privacy. A wrong mix would put people off right away.
  • Conversations Block: It is about the way to stay connected with each other. This can be done through short public status updates, liking status updates or commenting and starting conversations. These conversation can centre around particular topics and create rich, often lengthy discussions. Firms need to understand how to curate these conversations. In other words when and where their users would like them to comment, make the conversation interesting by providing additional information or just sit back and listen.
  • Sharing Block: It addresses how users exchange, receive and distribute content. People could share status updates, tag friends in photos, videos, slide presentations, links, locations, tweet spins etc. For a firm it is important to know what interest people have in common with them, what people think is share worthy and then to create such content which people can share while making sure that such content doesn’t offend anyone or violate any existing privacy or copyright laws.
  • Presidents Block: It covers the degree to which people can know if they are accessible with GPS chips in mobile devices. This is very easy and lot of people let others know where they are, what their status update is and if they are ready to talk or meet at a particular location. Firms should always keep in mind that they should ask for the presence doubt only if it is absolutely essential. For social interaction on some platforms location and availability really matters while on other platforms not so much.
  • Relationship Block: It focusses on how users are connected with each other. Some social media sites are about nurturing existing relationships whereas some are about growing new ones. Some sites focus on online relationship building and therein relationship details doesn’t matter much. Firms need to figure out ways to support the relationship that is of utmost important to its users.
  • Reputation Block: In this block we focus on how brands, products and people are viewed by others. In a social media setting we gather reputation by measuring the number of likes, followers, tweet reads, number of views, engagement on social media page etc. When it comes to the quality measure of the content we rely on suggestion from friends, product endorsements and reviews from people who have used the product. Online research about products and opinions really matter. Firms needs to be very careful about how they manage their online reputation as there is a lot of traffic and engagement on social media sites.
  • Group Block: It describes how individuals manage their social relationships. With so many friends and connections online users may choose to sort their contacts into various groups like friends, family members, office colleagues etc. Users may also choose to give these group different permission to view their content. A firm needs to offer right options to their users so that the group becomes useful without overwhelming the user with too many choices.

Thus individually these building blocks help to understand the engagement needs of a social media user and together they help to understand how these existing platforms add value.

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