Essentially, our social media content matrix is a triangle, but actually; it’s a Reulaux triangle (very complex, we know). This is because it is derived from three interlocking circles, each representing the three type of content we can create over social media. Extending the content matrix, we can see how each type is defined and contributes to the matrix. See the image below.
You’ll notice that the centre of the diagram is Cook’s content matrix. This is because, inherently, anything that you can possibly post over social media is, to some degree, a mixture of all three types; value-adding, self-promotional and interaction. Imagine the most non-promotional, interactive tweet to a follower of your company’s Twitter account. It is purely interaction, BUT, it has your company logo next to it (self-promotional) and it will be adding value to that individual follower, maybe others purely out of the fact a company is conversing with a civilian. On the other hand, the most shamelessly self-promotional Facebook post can be responded to – it is up there for anyone to interact with. And given your company has genuine products or services to offer, the post is likely to offer someone some value if they’re in your target audience. It might even be so shameless it raises an eyebrow or makes someone laugh out of pity(!)
Alarm bells might be ringing if someone has been telling you that the only social network your business needs to be on is Facebook when apparently Twitter is the only social network. This is actually a quote from Mr Gary Vaynerchuk but it really does make sense. All the other ‘social networks’ (including Facebook) are content platforms. They enable the company or brand to enter the online social sphere of their target audience but only on Twitter can they be truly engaged and conversed with. Remember, you cannot force your Facebook page on your audience – you can’t post on individuals’s walls.
Of course, self-promotional advertising channels have always existed without the scope to interact in a two-way relationship with the consumer. This is why traditional marketers and full-service marketing agencies (in general!) tend to use social media platforms as just another channel with which to bombard their target audience with corporate messages and promotional garbage. It is also why they’re a lot more comfortable using Facebook – it is a content platform – rather than Twitter. Other content platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube offer much the same: channels to post promotional material – pictures and videos – with only marginal scope to interact with consumers, at least, on the company’s terms. As traditional marketers are most comfortable in the self-promotional circle of the diagram, it makes sense that their content blend is going to be skewed to the bottom left of the content matrix.
There are, of course, examples of channels that will fit into the space represented by the two overlapping circles of self-promotional and value adding. Really funny or entertaining TV ads are going to be value-adding. Competitions and prize giveaways, likewise, promote the brand but add value to consumers by giving them a chance to win something. The same is true for advertorials; they’re providing information but are, equally, selling something. The self-promotion/interaction overlap, however, is relatively new in terms of a two-way relationship, most of which will fall in to the central content matrix because they will occur over social media. The best examples of traditional means of interaction are not marketing as much as selling. Telesales, door to door selling, car salesmen all require communication and sales skills but are very focussed on a specific outcome – conversions – a one-way type of self-promoting interaction.
Looking at the example we gave in the introductory Cook’s social media content matrix post, the ‘desired’ content blend would be right on the edge of the green self-promotional circle – barely recognisable as self-promotion (probably no more than the logo sat next to the post) but sitting firmly within the red value-adding and blue interaction circles.
And for your interest, what happens in the overlap between interaction and value adding, naturally, has nothing to do with companies; it is outside the self-promotion circle. This is where a phone call between friends takes place. Even the most value-adding, interactive social media account (pure customer service) is going to be self-promotional as long as it has a company logo beside it.
We’d love to hear your comments, feel free to let us know your thoughts below.