For seven years now, we’ve been delivering social media intelligence to some of the world’s largest brands, and we’ve watched marketers struggle with the concept of segmentation in social media. Segmentation is one of the fundamental principals of good marketing–the idea of dividing customers with similar needs and attributes into groups for more targeted marketing. Demographics, psychographics and behavioral economics are all time-tested techniques for segmenting markets in meaningful ways, and marketers have done backflips trying to apply them to social media.
Because we spend so much time collecting and analyzing market dialog at SocialRep, we found a much simpler way to segment social markets–by grouping customers according to what they talk about. Instead of trying to get into customers’ heads, or collecting mountains of
extraneous signals Big Data to read the tea leaves of consumer behavior, we focus on organizing customers by the things they discuss. That way, we can help our users speak to their own customers about the things they care about most.
That approach led us to a new way of thinking about the different groups of voices that collect on the web. If the collection of all voices that join any given platform is a “social network”, the collection of voices talking about a particular topic, across all platforms, is what we have taken to calling a “vocal network”—a group of people who can be determined to have a shared interest, based on the content of their conversations.
Like living systems, Vocal Networks tend to be self-organizing. They are driven by a shared interest and a desire to share information about that interest, and they develop particularly well around products and services. Why? Because people find value in discussing problems they need to solve, and in learning from others which solutions and alternatives are most effective.
When we talk about building a Unified Vocal Network, we’re recognizing the fact that although all participants in a segment of market dialog have a shared interest, they do not all share the same experiences, views or opinions. Building a Unified Vocal Network means organizing those voices that share your company’s outlook and objectives–particularly your partners–into a network of aligned advocates, and enabling them to effectively and authentically share a message you all believe in.
That does not mean building a sock-puppet army of partners who blindly retweet whatever you tell them to say. It means selecting, developing and empowering partners whose added voice brings a compelling new thread to the story you share.