Exploring The Social Maturity Model
Why we did it
At TBG, we help brands achieve their business objectives with social media. We’ve noticed that social media initiatives are often taken one at a time, with short-term objectives and no coherent goal. As a result of this, brands can spend a lot of money on social media, maybe generating some impressive vanity metrics along the way, without really achieving anything.
In order to make media spends more effective, we have devised a model that locates a brand’s presence in social media, relative to its competitors. When we understand that, we can work out where we want to go, and how to get there. It might take multiple initiatives, but every initiative will help us work towards our goal, so every initiative is a step on the path to social maturity.
Our model, like all good models, is practical: it is designed to help us produce specific recommendations that brands can act on to improve their position.
The dimensions of social maturity
Our model is based on four factors. The most important of these are awareness and differentiation. These two factors have the biggest impact on what actions we recommend in social media, so they are the first thing we consider.
Awareness is recognition of a brand by its target audience. Does your target audience know who you are and what you are selling? This is really the starting point of any measurement of your market perception. Our model is focused on social media, so we consider such factors as mentions, share of voice and reach on various social media platforms.
Differentiation is the perceived strength of the brand. Does your target audience prefer your brand to your competitors, and does it understand why? The preference could be based on tangible factors like product features or indirect reasons. For social media purposes, we focus on such metrics as brand affinity measures, social customer reviews and proportion of positive mentions.
We always rate the awareness and differentiation of a brand in relation to similar brands, particularly competitors. This helps us focus on initiatives that will make a real difference.
Our measures are based on perception in social media. We examine this perception systematically and scientifically, but we don’t claim to be talking about the objective properties of the brand. Instead, we focus on how the brand is seen on social media.
We also consider market size and time as the third and fourth dimensions of our model. Market size helps us understand the opportunities available to us, and this helps us plan and allocate budgets. Time enables us to track the effectiveness of your initiatives and see if we are getting closer to our target state as things progress.
We consider awareness and differentiation together to create a social maturity matrix.
“Sheep” are brands that are less well-known, and thought by those who know them to at the same level as their competitors. Like sheep, it can be hard to tell them apart. These are the brands with the most to do, as they need to improve both awareness and differentiation.
“Unsung heroes” are brands that are less well-known, but thought by those who know them to be better than most of their competitors. Often they are innovators or operating in new markets. These brands should focus primarily on improving awareness, as they are already differentiated.
“Celebrities” are well-known but thought to be at the same level as most of their competitors. They are often found in mature or saturated markets. These brands should focus primarily on differentiation, as their names are already well-known, but they do not stand out amongst their competitors.
“Pack leaders” are the most mature of the brands, and are where everyone wants to be: they are well-known, and thought to be better than most of their competitors. For these brands, the challenge is to maintain this position, given that all these positions change with time (the fourth dimension) and the brands will be under threat from their competitors.
Using the matrix
The location of the brand on the matrix suggests a high-level goal of improving awareness, differentiation or both. When we’ve established this, we work with customers to agree more specific objectives and how we will achieve them. The matrix gives us a consistent framework that takes account of changes in markets and competitors over time, and this enables us to maintain focus on our goals and help brands get to where they want to be.
Head of Research
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