Sep 30, 2010

The Content-Community Social Media Model

When I was blogging this post - the model popped into my head - but only in the past few days was when I started thinking how businesses can use social media that it formed into something like a model.

The Content-Community Matrix to using social media
I like to call it my "Content - Community" model.
  • Content is text, photos, videos as well as reactions to that content. The reactions can be in the form of comments, votes (up or down) or ratings. 
  • Community is a shared identity between a group of people who may or may not know each other. And conversations can be of various types as I showed in this model earlier
Clay Shirky in his book "Here comes everybody" says that every webpage has a latent community - as the people who share the interest in that content.
What is needed is to tap that community and to bring them together.
The model is a simple 2x2 matrix with the horizontal axis denoting community and the vertical axis denoting content.
A business (or non-profit) or government can use these four approaches as a starting point and have different kind of social conversations.
  1. Low Content and Low Community - Obviously these are not very social. Typically static webpages which offer no commenting or curation facilities would fall in this category.
  2. High Content and Low Community - Big example - Other examples would be website like, a discussion board like, an ideation platform like Dell's in which people either ask questions or submit ideas and then vote them up or down is heavy on content and focused on solving issues. Community takes a backseat in these platforms. What is the key to success is defining clearly what issues will be addressed. Social commerce platforms and services like and  would also be examples of this category.
  3. High Community and Low Content - The assumption in these communities is that the shared interests and self-identity of the community will need trigger more and more content in the future. If an organization is investing in such a social site then they need to seed it with some initial content and guide the community and help then create more content.
  4. High Community and High Content - These are full featured community platforms with content creation platforms. I would typically classify "social" intranets with extranets - with activity streams, wikis, rich profiles in this category. These would also be the category where category 3 could develop into after a period of time.
 Some thoughts to keep in mind: these categories are not watertight. Over a period of time, for example, category 2 would develop a core community of people who interact and converse with each other. category 3 would slowly develop into category 4 too.
You might ask where does a or or fit here? Note that they are social networks, not online communities - and the difference is crucial. As Lithium's Michael Wu (see his 4 posts about it) states we have a social graph and we are members of various communities - for example I am simultaneously a member of communities like my alumni groups, HR professionals, KM enthusiast, Social Media explorer, Comic Book lover, foodie and Enterprise 2.0. These are where I build strong or weak ties.