March 2, 2010

The social media donut (how to buy social media)

What’s so annoyingly complicated about social media buying is that you’re not just buying the media, but you’ve also got to factor in buying the social bit too. And when it comes to buying social things get a way bit complicated. After all, buying friends just doesn’t work.

So how do you deal with planning and buying social media? Well the main issue is the fact that the very nature of social media means it’s earned media – i.e. people share / advocate your ads – and not directly bought. This therefore means that you don’t buy social media as such, rather you buy “social media potential”.

Social media potential is all about optimising the opportunity for your content to be shared and talked about. The very nature of this means that the planning aspects of a social media campaign are more important than ever.

To help, we’ve developed up a donut – a social media planning and buying donut to help map out the key things to factor in when planning / buying a campaign:

  • Conversation / community mapping: first up, map out the communities you want to start conversations in, and plot what those conversations might look like (i.e. who’s going to say what)
  • Conversation catalyst creation: next stop is to create your “conversation catalyst” – i.e. make your viral film / game / idea that’s going to be the catalyst for all the social internet chatter.
  • Small seed: small seed is all about seeding to a small number of highly targeted, relevant and influential people to start sharing and talking. Small seed optimises advocacy, and is typically based around blogger / twitter outreach.
  • Big seed: big seed is all about seeding to a bigger number of lesser influential people – but still in a relevant and targeted way. Big seed guarantees reach, and typically involves using an ad network like the Viral Ad Network.

So having done all this – how should you judge success? Well ideally, your campaign would have spread from its initial seeds resulting in both advocacy and reach – in the perfect world that meaning a high number of relevant people talking about and sharing your campaign.

I’ve got a whole bunch more thoughts on the detail of planning social media campaigns + measurement – though I’ll save these for later . . .