Social Is IN and the Lights Are OUT: Navigating the Social Stack

Social happened fast and its growth occurred organically, fragmented and decentralized. Today there are thousands of social technologies for brands to evaluate and deploy. On a per brand and/or agency basis the supply is greater than the demand, meaning, there are more technologies to leverage than campaigns that can be married to them.

For brands, marketers, C-level executives, entrepreneurs and even venture capitalists this creates business challenges:

  • Identifying what each product does and how they work and then classifying the platform accordingly is like walking a dark underground maze. Many platform features overlap multiple product categories making the maze a complete nightmare.
  • Confusion is multiplied by global enterprises trying to move to a more unified model of paid, earned and owned. This move comes as a response to the social technology fragmentation around them.
  • It gets worse: Brands are jumping into social networks left, right and center. The playing grounds used to be only Facebook and Twitter. Now they invest in YouTube, Linkedin, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram and Tumblr. This means multiple logins, passwords, dashboards and vendors and with all that comes social media security risks.

Inspired by Jeremiah Owyang’s recent post, A New Category Defined: Social Performance Software I have created the social product stack. The stack is based on my countless hours of emerging technology research, product development and evaluating hundreds of social platforms for global enterprise brands at Big Fuel. The stack aims to “turn the lights on” – that is, provide clarity when navigating the social media technology landscape and thus effectively deploy the best solution.

The Social Media Stack

The stack outlines the primary social media product categories. The length of each bar represents the industry maturity within a category, and interestingly is inversely correlated with its potential growth. Note – there are additional categories that can exist as a standalone or easily melt into one of the existing.

The stack manifests fragmentation, shouts the need for cohesiveness (and if it does not then eat this) and above all highlights the importance of product classification.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the stack is the very peak. As more enterprises rush to social media as a marketing channel, a market is emerging between the areas of traditional enterprise Web security and online social media management. Can I predict an article by Jeremiah, “A New Category Defined: Social Security Software.” I will stay away from treading in his waters but let me say this:

The social security software category will take home the gold medal and smart investors will put their eggs in this basket. It is not a stack that exists independently, but rather as the technology develops and enterprises awaken to the need it will permeate every other product category protecting social infrastructure and optimization. You can learn more about social security on my blog and in an upcoming webinar by Social iQ Networks.

Taking a step backwards and looking at the stack there are two larger questions:

  1. 1. How does one classify a platform?
  2. 2. In the myriad of categories and platforms within each, how does one marry the technology to a brand’s specific needs?

I can’t reveal all my secrets!

Michoel – @Twabbi

Follow Michoel @



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Hello! Big Fuel is a full-service marketing and communications company based in New York that takes brands from Content To Commerce. A unique approach that bridges "people stories" to "product stories" through social media and branded content.

Big Fuel is one part marketing agency, building brands through consumer insight; one part entertainment company, creating content that people love; and one part distribution company, driving guaranteed results by delivering content to targeted audiences. We work with major brands, leading agencies, publishers and platforms to help marketers achieve true consumer engagement.

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