How the Social Pyramid Works

by Jay Deragon on 10/06/2010

In an earlier post titled “5X6 Social Media Revenue Matrix” we discussed the strategic elements that influence  “social” organizational effectiveness and the related initiatives.

The strategic implications of “all things social” are and will continue to force organizations to review the importance of developing new thinking as it relates to strategy. Traditional approaches to strategy emphasized breakthrough thinking around products and services for dominating a market. Today it takes more than competitive and unique products and services to dominate or penetrate an existing market or create a new market. Market dynamics are shifting towards relational attributes and as such strategic emphasis must shift to relational matters of strategic importance.

Elements of the Social Pyramid

At the top of the social pyramid is action. Action is the greatest reaction from a marketplace. The reaction from the marketplace is driven by an organizations intent on providing value to specific or broad segments of a particular market. A market represents the exchange of value between two of more parties, whether B2B or B2C. In order for an exchange to be initiated the market must be aware of the value offered and the organization offering it. Awareness comes from getting the markets attention using media propagated by people. Thus the strategic emphasis for creating market reactions is media propagated by people. Social media are communications (which is media) propagated by people.

The Strategy Pyramid has Flipped

Traditionally organizations have propagated media using slick tactics applied to the disciplines of marketing, advertising and public relations. The related strategies have been focused on creating market attention and awareness to the product or service offered. The messaging and related media strategy for desired actions an organizations sot from the market(s), revenue generated from marketing, advertising and public relations.

The people at the top of the organizations developed strategies for creating and distributing content that targeted the  attention from buyers. Buyers represented market relations which were targeted for actions, a transaction that drove revenue. Consumed with results leaders leveraged media to create consumer actions and tried multiple strategies of distribution, creative content and used advertising, marketing and PR tactics to reach an audience. The focus on these strategies was aimed at attention and attraction but the attributes of said strategies were not relational rather institutional.

The marketplace is  shifting towards relational attributes that are significantly influencing strategic thinking about the elements that drive a strategy. The marketplace dynamics are changing because of the influence of communications being initiated by the mass of people, buyers and suppliers, and not media from sellers.  This is a significant change because the mass of people are becoming more influential than the media traditionally used to drive organizational strategy for markets of consumers, people.

While many organizations are attempting to leverage social media to create relevant actions from markets of people many fail because their strategies have not changed with the changing cultural dynamics.

Cultural dynamics are an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that encompasses collective thought and social learning. Culture also reflects shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group of people. In other words  culture influences the relational attributes that determine quality of relationships, communications (content), distributed conversations (context) which ultimately influences the actions of people (markets).

At the bottom of the social strategy pyramid is culture. To get to the top of the pyramid (action) the strategic focus must be in alignment with people’s intent, internal first then external. What intent does your culture show? Open or closed? Controlled or collaborative? Engagement or dis-engagement?

The foundation of any organization is only as strong as its culture. The same rule applies to effective strategies in a market that is “connected” more that ever before.

To focus at the top of the pyramid without starting at the bottom and moving your way up insures failure which is not what you want to be known for in the market of conversations.