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Why Do we Need a Social Media Architecture?

Submitted by on October 2, 2011 – 10:50 pmOne Comment

I have recently published an eBook on  “social media architecture.”  I will be posting much of the content serially on this blog over the coming weeks.  However the best way to read it is to download the free book here:


Take one look at the social media footprint of any large brand and you find dozens of social sites that lie abandoned with no active engagement.  Many are redundant, fracturing the same potential audience into separate, so-called “communities.”  Further, the majority of these sites are product-centric and isolated, without any formal linkage to a brands’ other sites where customers might find value.  And the bigger the organization, the bigger the problem.  In one recent project we found our client had close to 150 Facebook pages, over 65 YouTube channels and 100 Twitter feeds.  Recent data from the Altimeter Group confirms the issue – with the average organization maintaining 178 social accounts.

This is unsupportable and counterproductive.  The solution is a Social Media Architecture, defined as “a structure that brings harmony, utility and durability to the diverse elements of an organization’s social media presence.”

The benefits of establishing a Social Media Architecture are clear:

  • Improve customer experience and gain the benefit of network effects by consolidating your customers into larger, more focused communities
  • Increase operational effectiveness by aligning brand initiatives (reduce wasted effort)
  • Stabilize brand equity by presenting a unified sense of the brand across social media
  • Drive focus towards meeting business objectives

How each organization gets there is a personal journey since, like people, no two organizations are alike.  However the questions an organization must ask are very similar:

  • What is our current footprint in social media?
  • Which communities will we serve?
  • What needs will we focus on satisfying?
  • What is the connection between our various social media properties?
  • How do we design for durability?

These are the questions that a Social Media Architecture is designed to answer.  The result are fewer social media pages, more clearly defined goals and roles for each platform (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) and a structure for maintaining what you have put in place.

I have chosen to tell this story in three parts: The Widow, The Architect and The Engineer.  The Widow provides a useful metaphor for seeing the problems inherent in corporate use of social media today.  The Architect allows us to take this metaphor and begin seeing a possible solution to these problems.  Finally, The Engineer illuminates a dynamic (a law, if you will) that forces us to consider the implications social media has on corporate culture and organizational design.

Next post:  The Widow – defining the Social Media Mystery House

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