4 Composite Functions of Social Media

by Jay Deragon on 12/08/2009

SM Composite FunctionI’ve been thinking about the “functions” of social media.

The concept of a function is a mathematical term which expresses the intuitive idea that one quantity (the argument of the function, also known as the input) completely determines another quantity (the value, or output).

There are many ways to represent or visualize functions: a function may be described  by a description of its properties. Sometimes, a function is described through its relationship to other functions.

The composite function is obtained by using the output of one function as the input of another. This operation provides the theory of functions with its most powerful structure. When we look at social media as a series of function it is helpful to breakdown the related functions to decide which specific functions creates the highest value to the others.

4 Functions That Make Up The Whole

When we define social media as a “system of communications” then we must define the related functions to understand the entire system. We will give an overview of the “systemic functions” of social media and in later post go into greater detail for each function.

  1. Administration: Organizational and employee profiles within relevant and relative social networks where your market is now. Establishment of a social media policy, training and education for all employees on use of social media. Establishment of an organizational blog and integration of content within relevant communities. Market research to find where your market (employees, buyers and suppliers) is participating
  2. Listening & Learning: Creation of a monitoring system to “hear” what your market is discussing, what is relevant to them and learning what topics pull interest. Understanding who are the creators, observers, participants and their relative influences. Learning what, where, when, why and how your market behaves and what influences the behavior of the market. Understanding the strategies and tactics of your competition.
  3. Thinking & Planning: Based on what is learned from step 1 &2 what will your organization do to create market differential, relationships, relative and relevant content and what specific social technology will be used to engage your market appropriately. How will you stay ahead of the market and how will you communicate your intent to the marketplace. How can social technology improve operational efficiency, market relations and your presence in the markets you serve. This step is never-ending.
  4. Engagement & Measurement: Now that you’ve completed 1 -3 and have the relevant knowledge and related data you will begin to engage your market. Establishing effective measures is critical to quantify whether the methods used, the content created and the tools you are using are improving your position and your market relations. This step is never-ending.

Where Are The Results?

The proverbial never-ending question about results. Notice each step illustrated in the graphic above has a two-way arrow indicating feedback loops. Also notice that the diagram has two axis, time and value. At the very top of the illustration the end is results. However the results are not indicative of any one of th related steps rather results show the sum of the whole. Thus, doing step one and jumping to step 4 without doing steps 2 &3 will impact results. Not doing each step continuously and correctly will impact your results.

Each step produces value to the preceding step and value is passed back to the previous step in the form of feedback data for improvement. Thus, unless you measure the qualitative issues that create the qualitative impact you cannot change or produce the end results effectively.

That being said which two functions create the most qualitative value  that impacts the quantitative result? It is the two strategic elements: Listening & Learning as well as Thinking & Planning. Now measure your ROI on those! Skip those two critical functions and you can’t improve or get any relevant results.

{ 14 comments }

Andreas Gotthelf April 29, 2010 at 1:55 am

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Clive Roach February 28, 2010 at 6:19 am

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seo solutions January 8, 2010 at 2:07 am

so good the post! the content is very easily understood and persuasive. social media plays an important role.

Steve Farnsworth December 16, 2009 at 10:21 pm

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Khaled Akkoub December 14, 2009 at 1:27 am

The plural effect of social media is bound to revolve into something more measurable and, consequently, made more profitable to content media.

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