Nowadays Social Media seems to be a must for every company or organization big or small.

The first question is if Social Media is a must? The answer is no. A company needs to create existence on the long term. Social media is a tool which maybe useful but maybe not or maybe the company will not be able to earn it back.

If you decide that Social media can be helping your business forward or at least you would like to test and you assigned time and/or a budget to test you need to know what you can do with social media.

Most companies are thinking in solutions. They want to be on Facebook or on Twitter. A little more advanced solution is to build a community.

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But first you need to ask yourself:
What problem will i solve?
Or what is the target of using Social Media.

Antal de Waij from Engagement Media (Dutch) gave a very inspiring lecture about different levels of social media. Focuses on the target you, as a company want to achieve.

The 7 levels of social media Antal defines are:

  1. Informational/educational
  2. Share knowledge
  3. Crowd sourcing & funding
  4. Co-creation
  5. Webcare
  6. Reputation management
  7. Community

1. Informational/educational
Companies who would like to communicate information or teach their clients, partners, employees or other stakeholders can use Social Media for this purpose. Followers want (or have) to learn from the information. The company sends ” information” and receivers can react via Social Media.

2. Share knowledge
Employees, clients, partners and other stakeholders can share knowledge. So everybody within the network can drop relevant information on the Social Media network and everybody can react on it.

3. Crowd sourcing & funding
A step further then sharing knowledge is crowd sourcing. You try to get everybody (so not only stakeholders) who may be interested involved to reach a shared target. The source can be needed money to reach a target. This is called crowd funding.

4. Co-creation
A step further then share knowledge is to create ” something” together. It is called co-creation. You invlove your stakeholders, expecially clients to share knowledge, come up with new insights and create.

5. Webcare
Webcare is managing online interactions between customer and company. So react on online questions and remarks about your company and product. The target is to build a better relation with your clients.

6. Reputation management
A step further then webcare is reputation management. It is actually the combination of Public Relations with Webcare on online, focussed on Social Media. Companies with brands are more or less forced to react on complains on social media to avoid a complain will live his own live and destroy the brand.

7. Community
The traditional community refers to a usually small, social unit of any size that shares common values. The term can also refer to the national community or international community. Since the advent of the Internet, the concept of community has less geographical limitation, as people can now gather virtually in an online community and share common interests regardless of physical location. Prior to the internet, virtual communities (like social or academic organizations) were far more limited by the constraints of available communication and transportation technologies (source: Wikipedia).

So actually all levels of social media are some kind of community. The ideal community is self-sufficient. But to get there (which is mostly not possible anyway), you need to build the community. You need to take care that (new) members feel comfortable and that they start participating. Member can bring new members, also this may be promoted.

As mentioned, this post is inspired by Antal de Waij in the following video (in Dutch) you can find on Youtube:

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