Tag Archives: social media marketing

Simplifying Social Media Is Not That Simple

So I’m presenting a 30-minute talk on social media to members of the Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (ASME) tomorrow. My boss suggested that I should keep things simple, as it’s likely that many of these folks are not that well-versed in social media for business purposes. I understand the point, but to be honest, this isn’t so simple. No one really teaches the basics of social media because social media is by nature intuitive. There really isn’t any “basics” in social media – you either use it or you don’t. The differentiating factor between success and failure boils down to context, customization and a lot of “feels”.

There is another reason why I feel learning “basics” is a challenge in social media. It is that everyone has heard of it – how great it is, how essential it is to business, how easy it is to use, how everyone and their pet cat is on it (seriously, there are many pet cats on social media). But, like many other aspects of business, it’s only really great and easy if you have already have all the supporting factors in place, many of which are circumstantial. If you don’t, no amount of training helps.

Most people already know the “basics”, like “a Facebook page is good for marketing”. And even if you don’t, it’s just a google away. I won’t present a slide just to show people that.

Everyone knows you need good photos online – for the cover, the profile and for content – but I can’t teach you the art of photography in 30 minutes, and I’m not even qualified to teach it in 30 days.

People may have heard that Instagram is the in-thing now (with younger generations) – but saying that is not often news. In fact, the issue is that to say these “basics” is tantamount to stating the obvious.

So if I were to say “Content is King! Your Facebook Page must have great content to win customers!” – it’s painfully obvious. Even if for some reason someone wasn’t aware of this age-old (by internet standards) rule, saying so without going into extensive detail can lay the ground for disappointment, when said someone realizes just how difficult it is to come up with good content.

Picture Credit: http://jeffhester.net/2013/03/19/social-media-explained-with-donuts/
Picture Credit: http://jeffhester.net/2013/03/19/social-media-explained-with-donuts/

Point being: social media has seen enough widespread use that everyone (or at least those who choose to attend a “Digital Marketing” seminar) probably has an inkling of some sort, no matter how simplistic or even erroneous. And even if someone does not, I can’t really help you in 30 minutes and at the expense of the boredom of some 98% of the audience.

The title of the talk I’m giving is “Five Ways to Winning Customers on Social Media”. The challenge for me is to present 5 tactics or points that a) if you’re a complete newbie to social media, it would still make sense; b) if you’re a novice (but still inexperienced), it would still be useful; and in fact, c) if you’re an expert, you would still enjoy seeing the points reinforced or even learn something new about something you already know.

Take for example, the issue of content and hard sell. Most inexperienced online marketers will default to a majority of hard sell on their Facebook page, following the strategy of traditional marketing. Marketers more attuned to the paradigm of social media (or those who have watched how successful pages do it) may mix in other entertaining content. By and large, what I want to do  for people is to provide a more pointed definition or plan regarding what other content would work on a Facebook page.

For this reason one of the “Five Ways” has to do with the 40:40:20 rule which divides content type into hard sell, “soft sell” and a kind of “no sell”. For example, the idea that as a company, you can impress your potential customers by posting content that makes you look knowledgeable in your domain is a form of soft sell. Posting a picture of a cat – which would invariably gather more likes than any of your other posts – will be a form of “no sell”.

There’s a good chance, I would say, that anyone who’s on Facebook would have seen some degree of soft sell and no sell – but may never have realized that it works in terms of social media marketing. That is the sort of area that I will try to straddle in this talk – to help people realize what they already know, and articulate it as strategy.


Online Community Management – the Unobvious Job

What’s the difference between “Social Media Management” and “Online Community Management”? Is it the same thing?

The term “online community management” is still relatively new in Singapore. And that’s one reason why I’m writing this.

Though perhaps the concept isn’t new – isn’t it basically social media management? Yes and no. Social media management is, simplistically, the running of social media channels, everything from setting up Pages and accounts, tweeting, curating and posting content to reporting   metrics. Its activities are centred around the channel – in a sense, it is channel-centric.

It is implicit in “social media management” that managing the fans, followers and members is involved. That’s where online community management has its focus. It’s in the people in your community, people whom you want to engage, people for whom you want to get a sustained positive response.  So, in a sense, online community management is a part of social media management, inasmuch as social media marketing is part of digital marketing.

I believe the main reason the term “online community manager” is only just beginning to take root in Singapore is that until recently, the focus of most organizations has really been exactly about social media as (marketing) channels, with community management as a secondary concern.

The Obvious vs the Un-Obvious Job

It is inevitable that as companies gain a better grasp of social media channels, they run into issues that are specifically more about online community management. Like the “webmaster” of the past, it will gain importance as the jack-of-all-trades character who is not just doing the obvious thing (“running the Facebook page”) but also the less obvious thing (“managing fans and driving engagement”)

Source: http://www.freshnetworks.com/blog/2011/01/community-manager-appreciation-day-pros-and-cons-of-community-management/
The Online Community Manager is sometimes called a “one-man team” or “crazy madness”. Source: http://www.freshnetworks.com/blog/2011/01/community-manager-appreciation-day-pros-and-cons-of-community-management/

We might argue that not every online community is on social media. For example, the discussion community around a popular blog might not be considered social media (especially since these existed before “social media” did).

Regardless, it’s fair to say that social media management and online community management have many things in common. But here are some ways to differentiate them.

Note: These are not exclusive differences. Social Media Management has some aspects of Online Community Management, and vice versa. The points below are an attempt to differentiate their foci, not to divide the two disciplines. They really do share a lot in common.

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If you would like to learn more about my thoughts on
Online Community Management, do check out my OCM course
at the Institute of Systems Science, NUS. </end self-promo>

* * * * *


  • Social Media Management focuses on the channel. “We want to grow our Facebook fanbase.”
  • Online Community Management (OCM) focuses on the people. “We want to make our Facebook fans happy and engaged.”

Consider: it’s possible to have a social media channel with tens of thousands of fans/followers, but little engagement.


  • Social Media Management is often channel-specific. “We engage fans on Facebook and Twitter.”
  • OCM is in principle channel-agnostic. “We engage fans. Wherever they are.”

Consider: Many companies start off by saying they want to “get on Facebook” (or the like), not “We must engage fans”.

Target Segment

  • Social Media Management uses marketing to gain new fans. The objective is to bring new fans in.
  • OCM “uses” its community to market to itself. It focuses on keeping fans within.

Consider: social media campaigns often use marketing tactics, such as marketing lingo and giveaways, to attract new fans, while the professionals involved (they could even be the same ones) are tasked to focus on content and engagement to keep existing fans engaged.


  • Social Media Management ultimately is often designed to drive a hard business objective. E.g. sales
  • OCM wants to drive participation, interaction, discussion and other means of engagement. Typically these are considered a means to an end (the end being a business objective)

Consider: management often grills social media teams as to what is their ROI, and how do they benefit sales. When a crisis occurs online, management asks how the team will handle it – the latter is a matter of OCM since it involves pacifying a community; whereas the former is about marketing/bottom line.

…. and so on.

All points are entirely arguable. This is no attempt to define the two terms definitively. It’s just food for thought for those of us trying, perhaps, to make an un-obvious job a little more obvious, a little better appreciated.

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Thanks for reading to the end! Once again, allow me to introduce my
Online Community Management 2-day course starting from July,
at the Institute of Systems Science, National University of Singapore. Care to join up? 

Online Community Management for Social Media Short Course at the Institute of Systems Science, NUS