The Social Media-ologies

“People don’t want to connect with brands. They want to connect with each other. Fascinating companies create more opportunities for people to connect with each other; through the brand.”

— Sally Hogshead, Author of Fascinate

For most of us, when the subject of social media comes up, we quickly drift to the topic of the big ‘ology’, the ‘technology’ that powers social media. But does it really? I mean, I love technology as much as anyone, but is technology really what powers this global phenomenon?

If you’re hot to trot for social media, I’d like to momentarily divert your attention to the other ‘ologies’ that you may consider in your planning before you head down the technology path (I’m not just doing this for the sake of wordplay, a recent report by Gartner Research found that 70 percent of social media initiatives coordinated by corporate technology departments fail, so let’s not start with technology on this one…)

Psychology – Some of you may have had this course in college, but in social media we’re concerned with human mental functions such as perception, cognition, attention, emotion, motivation, personality, behavior and interpersonal relationships.

Sociology – According to Max Weber in his tome “The Nature of Social Action” from 1922, Sociology is the science focused on interpreting the meaning of social action to give a causal explanation of human actions and the effects which they produce.

Anthropology – In general, the study of humanity (mostly in the historical sense). Anthropology seeks to answer questions like “How do humans behave?” and “Why are there variations and differences among different groups of humans?” In social media, you need to understand these variations in your customers more than you will ever need to know the technical merits of the over 300 tools that you can use for Twitter!

Zoology – Why zoology? Well, for starters, one of my all-time favorite books, The Origins of Virtue is written by zoologist Matt Ridley. In TOOV, Ridley explores why cooperation and collaboration trump competition. These are key insights for those of you developing brand communities.

Ethnography – OK, it’s not an ‘ology’, but this study of the real, current actions of human beings is key to understanding the smart phone movement and the mobilization of everything. Audience insight does not lie in flat demographic data; you need to get toe-to-toe with them on the level of ‘what they do’.

What does your business and marketing planning focus on? Are you enamored by technology and tactics and missing the real human factors & motivators that account for why people buy your stuff in the first place? Why not dip into the literature and get to know more about your decision makers.

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