TopRank Marketing Editor

How to Cultivate the Socialization of Your Business

TopRank Marketing Editor     Marketing PR Conferences, Other Events, Social Media

Brian Solis

Sponsored by JenKaneCo, well known social media evangelist Brian Solis recently gave a presentation to an enthusiastic group of marketers in downtown Minneapolis to introduce the concepts behind his new book:  Engage! The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate and Measure Success in the New Web. The following is an overview of his presentation:

Relations vs. Relationships

There’s something interesting that’s happening right now on the web:  relations are starting to matter more than relationships.  The key lesson for marketers, and what the rest of this overview discusses, is that people will engage around content that compels them in networks where that content spreads.

We are all going to have to shift from relationships to relations:  having more, thinner (but still relevant) connections is starting to matter more.  As a marketer, this shifts the power balance.  People are connecting around psychographics rather than demographics, and this means four degrees is the new six degrees of separation.  In plain English:  we’re all becoming better connected and users are vitally important to the equation of how information spreads.

A way for your marketing to succeed is to take the approach of a sociologist, an anthropologist and a philosopher rather than a traditional marketer.  That’s because it is people who are in control of the ideas that spread.  The web has changed things and marketing and PR have changed along with it.

Context Becoming as Valuable as Content

The challenges go deeper than marketing approaches.  When you join a company, you’re not given a Facebook page and Twitter account like you are an email account.  You already have those things.  And companies aren’t sure what to do or how they can leverage their own team members to increase their digital presence.  Your team members are vitally important because “content being king” is evolving into an era where context is king (yet, content still remains quite the powerful queen).  Context is proven to show who you are connected to and why around every conversation.  Your team members are a key ingredient to providing context, their actions equating to a type of social currency for your brand.

Speaking of content, how people react to your company’s content (something now public) equates to the stature of your community.  Reputation, trust and relationships are earned through these reactions and how you connect contextually is the experience prospects seek.

Content and context define the future of successful marketing.  You’re no longer marketing to individuals, you’re now marketing to “an audience with an audience.”  And every time they react to something you do, it shows the power of relations vs. relationships.  But without remarkable content and relevant context, you can never reach “an audience with an audience” effectively because you’re missing part of the equation of why people share ideas.

Getting Started

One of the easiest things to do is see what’s happening right now.  An approach that can be used is a “30 day window” to see a snapshot in time of what’s happening around a brand.  For a brand unsure about how much conversation was happening around their products – a sample search can reveal a staggering amount of messages across social platforms.  In many cases it’s a shock and can result in disbelief from management teams.  A social media monitoring service should be required for every brand to monitor the situation in an ongoing fashion.

Getting at least a snapshot is a good first step, and ongoing monitoring is even better, but equally important is to consider the data in perspective.  Or to put it simply:  share of voice vs. share of conversation.  Share of voice only gives you a partial view as it assumes everyone is talking about companies in a given industry.  A more relevant approach is to look at share of conversation.  As an example, consider  Old Spice – in the discussions on the social web regarding “body spray,” how well did they do?  While the overall conversations and reactions generated, putting it into context truly provides meaning of share of conversation.

Share of conversation matters more than most consider.  People are actively using the social web as part of the decision making cycle, and so this is the socialization of more than just marketing, but business as a whole.


How are you adapting to the socialization of business to help move these things in the right direction?  You need to extend divisions so that they are responding to consumers at the right point to become trusted and a part of the community.

All companies need to realize the fact that they are now in the media business, and that every company is now a media company.  This strategy is potent enough several companies embracing it have developed brands of media so popular they’re putting out best-selling books.  The influence they have over their markets is that big.

Influence is the ability to inspire desirability and measurable action and outcomes.  It is more than a click or more than a view.  As marketers, creating content and context to ultimately form influence is how to achieve long term, sustainable social media success.

For more on getting started in social media, consider creating a social media roadmap to plan your social media strategy.

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  1. Avatar Sara Thurston says

    Excellent article, Adam — and something every brand and product manager needs to know.

  2. Great blog post and I agree we have moved from single relationships to relations. Social Media gives us little guys a competitive edge over the big companies who for the most part, don't get it yet.

  3. Good article. Virtually all companies are lagging when it comes to leveraging each of their employee's social media abilities. All of us have hundreds of friends on Facebook; surely companies could find a way to utilize the social media capabilities of each employee in some form of productive manner. In the future, a lot of hiring decisions will factor your presence on the social side of the web. How many friends do you have? Do you have a blog? These things will matter in hiring decisions in the future, because they are assets; assets just as real as your academic degree

    Jason… (Follow us on Facebook for more entrepreneurial advice)

  4. Great article. Your point about the content and context is a valuable one for marketers. Publishing content is no longer enough – the conversation around the content is just as important as the content itself, the old “if a tree falls in the woods…” concept. We've coined a term for this, Social Publishing, to highlight this intersection of content and community on the Web.

  5. Social media is great and can build up a buzz about a topic very quickly,
    The individuals are able to compete with the big players, meaning through social media and forums you can find joint venture partners to promote your products and get massive amounts of traffic to your website.
    The little guy is starting to have an edge, online and communities are forming in the 1000’s

  6. Avatar Delroy A. Whyte-Hall says

    As entrepreneurs, it's important that we adapt to the socialization process to help us move our company in the right direction. Reason? I agree with Adam that we do need to extend our way of doing business so that they are responding to consumers at the right point to become trusted and a part of the community.

    Delroy A. Whyte-Hall

  7. How much influence do you have in your social network is the first thing you need to check. Transparency and creativity are the two basic factors that can influence your audience.

  8. Avatar marketingociologist says

    “A way for your marketing to succeed is to take the approach of a sociologist”

    Couldn't agree with you more!
    Richard Kelleher
    World's first Marketing Sociologist

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  10. “A way for your marketing to succeed is to take the approach of a sociologist, an anthropologist and a philosopher rather than a traditional marketer.”—Marketing Sociologist, Richard Kelleher