In the first installment on social media planning, Innis Maggiore suggested that you always insist on a media plan regardless of the media. Social media is simply a subset of all available (traditional and new) media. Avoid the newness hype and be wise. Any tactics used should be carefully planned and executed. Part two of this series will help you navigate the social media landscape.

Realize there are two DISTINCT activities within the social media landscape.


  1. Participate in the community as a member (part 3 and 4 of this series), and/or

  2. Advertise to the community through the paid options available (part 5).


Many companies use a hybrid of these two activities - BIG mistake. You may do one AND/OR the other as unique tactics. While they may inform each other, failing to treat these distinctly will undoubtedly harm your company's brand reputation.

The social media landscape

Blogs/Vlogs
At the turn of the millennium, blogs had already made their presence known as a marketing force with which to be reckoned. Today's top examples: TechCrunch, Engadget, Boing Boing, Gizmodo, Gawker, The Official Google Blog, and Daily Kos. Video weblogs (Vlogs) have now joined the party.

Forums
Not long after the advent of blogs, forums emerged. Forums are now most commonly used as user-contributed FAQ and How-To repositories.

Social Networks
In 2008, social network sites saw the most increase in activity. MySpace started the momentum years ago but is losing users to the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Reunion.com which all grew significantly in the last 12 months. Twitter had the highest growth and now appears on the list at #12.

Social Bookmarking (aka Crowdsourced Content
For those unfamiliar with social bookmarking, simply look at the bottom of this page and all PositionistView articles. The "Share It" button will show you many of the sites available for bookmarking. Once bookmarked, articles, blogs, and news are available for community commenting and/or rating. Leaders in 2008 were Digg, StumbleUpon, reddit, Technorati, and del.icio.us.

Wikis
A wiki is a definition created by the online community. The wiki sponsor usually moderates the definition to keep it free of obvious advertising efforts. Wikipedia is the obvious leader in this space. There are hundreds of wikis on the web, with WikiHow, WikiBooks, WikiNews, and WetPaint rounding out the top 5 most used.

Product Reviews/Opinions
Many online shoppers use amazon.com for their product review mechanism. Many use a similar format such as Google Maps, epinions.com, Yelp, Yahoo! Answers, and MouthShut.com.

Multimedia
YouTube leads this category (video sharing). There are others to consider as well: Flickr - photo sharing; Napster and LimeWire - audio sharing; iTunes - podcasting.

Micro Applications
The rise of gadgets (aka widgets) is just taking hold. You can plan on its maturity equating to Web 3.0. Google leads the desktop browser world, while iPhone leads the mobile space.

Other
Online gaming (Yahoo!Games), virtual worlds (SecondLife), livecasting (Justin.tv), events (Upcoming), and aggregators (iGoogle and FriendFeed).

A short article like this can barely do justice to the full list of available outlets in the social media landscape. The goal is to provide the generic categories and associated definitions to help you better understand the landscape and reduce the hype associated with the social media landscape.

From here, we will next explain how to 1) participate, and/or 2) advertise within these available media. Check out the third installment when we discuss how to start participating in the online social conversation.

Mark Vandegrift's 5-Part Social Media Series:


  1. Making Sense Of Social Media Planning

  2. Uncovering the Social Media Landscape

  3. Planning Your Participation in Social Media

  4. Joining The Social Media Conversation

  5. When To Use Social Media Advertising