Community Management, Social Media Strategy, Brand Communities, Facebook, Social Media Marketing

The Geometry of Social Media – Why Triangles Rule

Whether it’s your Facebook page, your blog, your Linkedin group, or your private brand community, your social media home base operates like a sports bar.

partypeople 300x242 The Geometry of Social Media   Why Triangles RuleYou first go to a sports bar for the amenities. The TVs. The food. The beer selection. But you return again and again not for the elements that brought you initially, but for the people. The regulars. The characters. The waitresses.

In my pre-fatherhood days, I used to go to a place called Big Daddy’s in north Phoenix. It was a little sketchy, but the food was decent, the beer was cold, and it was within walking distance. Then one Sunday, an ancient regular sitting across from me accidentally caught his oxygen mask on fire while trying to light a cigarette, and created an impromptu flame thrower that almost burned Big Daddy’s down. That’s the kind of humanity that builds loyalty.

Come for the Brand. Stay for the People

Social media is about community. And the connection between your customers and your company isn’t one.

Sure, interest in your brand will get customers to investigate your brand community (as long as you give them a rationale). But unless you facilitate connections between your customers, and let them build bridges between one another, they’ll show up, have a couple drinks, and keep moving.

I’m no visual information genius like David Armano, but I’ll try to represent this difference graphically. Here’s how the relationship between companies and their customers has historically been structured:
social media strategy 1 300x202 The Geometry of Social Media   Why Triangles Rule
Here’s how that relationship changes in social media (which is an improvement, but still not ideal):
social media strategy 2 1 300x201 The Geometry of Social Media   Why Triangles Rule

How Can You Build a Triangle?

This is what you want. This is a community. This is sustainable:
social meida strategy 3 300x202 The Geometry of Social Media   Why Triangles Rule

To build the triangle, you need to find ways to not just humanize your company, but put a spotlight on your customers. How can you get your customers telling the story of your brand from their perspective, not yours? Can you interview your customers? Create a directory of them? Let them help one another solve problems? Introduce them to one another? Encourage them to meet up or tweet up in their own towns?

Make Your Customers the Star, Not the Brand

social media strategy 4 300x180 The Geometry of Social Media   Why Triangles RuleHere’s an easy, relevant example from The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, a Facebook group for homeschoolers. They feature a member each week, and tell their story via a Facebook note, giving the community the opportunity to learn more about that person and how homeschooling impacts their family.

How can you shine the light on your customers and build a triangle community? What examples have you found?

  • Dan Levine @schoolmarketer

    Jay, any additional thoughts on how to engage customers in conversations? I like what you’ve presented, but I’m struggling. I’ve got the Fan Page. We’re on Twitter. We’re starting to blog. We’ve got a growing file of YouTube videos (http://www.youtube.com/user/SSDSBoston). But I can’t seem to engage folks in conversation. Perhaps some brands are better suited toward conversations? Perhaps some brands have a small but engaged group who carry the majority of the conversation? Perhaps my brand has too small a customer group and I need to figure out a way to bring the conversation to the ‘masses’? I’m trying to engage folks but it’s more difficult than I expected. I agree 100% with the framework you present. The hard part is making it happen. Thanks, Jay …

  • Dan Levine @schoolmarketer

    Jay, any additional thoughts on how to engage customers in conversations? I like what you’ve presented, but I’m struggling. I’ve got the Fan Page. We’re on Twitter. We’re starting to blog. We’ve got a growing file of YouTube videos (http://www.youtube.com/user/SSDSBoston). But I can’t seem to engage folks in conversation. Perhaps some brands are better suited toward conversations? Perhaps some brands have a small but engaged group who carry the majority of the conversation? Perhaps my brand has too small a customer group and I need to figure out a way to bring the conversation to the ‘masses’? I’m trying to engage folks but it’s more difficult than I expected. I agree 100% with the framework you present. The hard part is making it happen. Thanks, Jay …

  • http://www.mandalalifemedia.com/ Mark

    Nice illustration of connected community relationships

  • http://www.mandalalifemedia.com Mark

    Nice illustration of connected community relationships

  • http://blumaya.net/ Jorge Barba

    Before you connect your customers it’s important to understand what your customers care about.

    You think about some topic you and they care about and then build a community around that topic to bring them together and help each other.
    .-= Jorge Barba´s last blog ..What to know to spread the word for your event =-.

  • http://blumaya.net Jorge Barba

    Before you connect your customers it’s important to understand what your customers care about.

    You think about some topic you and they care about and then build a community around that topic to bring them together and help each other.
    .-= Jorge Barba´s last blog ..What to know to spread the word for your event =-.

  • talam

    Though you can certainly build relationships with customers through the use of social media, there are still other industries that can’t do it as easily as they like. Pharmaceutical companies might want to do that, but regulations and lawyers always come to stop them in the process. Customer Customer is one thing, but Customer Brand is a whole different ball game.

  • http://YourWebsite talam

    Though you can certainly build relationships with customers through the use of social media, there are still other industries that can’t do it as easily as they like. Pharmaceutical companies might want to do that, but regulations and lawyers always come to stop them in the process. Customer Customer is one thing, but Customer Brand is a whole different ball game.

  • http://blog.iangilyeat.com/ Elizabeth

    As you mentioned, you need to let the customers shine, not your brand. Your whole focus in marketing should be letting your customers be the hero and have your product assist them in their tasks. Then you can build your triangle of community between your customers as they share in their hero-isms.
    .-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..Email marketing to mobile devices…why it will fall short =-.

  • http://blog.iangilyeat.com Elizabeth

    As you mentioned, you need to let the customers shine, not your brand. Your whole focus in marketing should be letting your customers be the hero and have your product assist them in their tasks. Then you can build your triangle of community between your customers as they share in their hero-isms.
    .-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..Email marketing to mobile devices…why it will fall short =-.

  • http://hip-shots.com/ James Hipkin

    The relationship between the customer and the brand is, and always will be, a commercial relationship where value is exchanged for value. One form of value, that you are pointing out here, is facilitating the interaction between like minded customers. Great post.
    .-= James Hipkin´s last blog ..Five Pillars for Business Innovation =-.

  • http://hip-shots.com/ James Hipkin

    The relationship between the customer and the brand is, and always will be, a commercial relationship where value is exchanged for value. One form of value, that you are pointing out here, is facilitating the interaction between like minded customers. Great post.
    .-= James Hipkin´s last blog ..Five Pillars for Business Innovation =-.

  • http://twitter.com/markvanbaale/status/5758840544 Mark Van Baale

    I love how @jaybaer talks about the The Geometry of Social Media and Why Triangles Rule: http://tinyurl.com/yfqqull

  • http://twitter.com/penderrin27/status/6011146427 franz palmares

    RT @jaybaer The Geometry of Social Media – Why Triangles Rule | Social Media Marketing | Social Media Consulting – Co… http://bit.ly/cbAi1

  • http://friendfeed.com/e/1313be23-45cd-44ec-96b2-c7803085e092 mduran (Mustafa Duran)

    FriendFeed Comment


    The Geom… [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://friendfeed.com/e/1313be23-45cd-44ec-96b2-c7803085e092 mduran (Mustafa Duran)

    FriendFeed Comment


    The Geom… [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/mustafaduran/status/6200254101 Mustafa Duran

    The Geometry of Social Media – Why Triangles Rule http://ff.im/-cd6OT

  • http://twitter.com/webtw/status/6468210932 Lucy Beer

    Really smart article – Triangles rule social media – come for the brand, stay for the people: http://ow.ly/JWb4 via @jaybaer

  • http://twitter.com/matthixson/status/6479103532 Matt Hixson

    The Geometry of Social Media – Why Triangles Rule http://ff.im/-cDeeH

  • http://twitter.com/ivanwalsh/status/6551594996 ivan walsh

    The Geometry of Social Media – Why Triangles Rule – Whether it’s your Facebook page, your blog, your Linkedin group… http://ow.ly/168lwU

  • http://twitter.com/charliestweet/statuses/6759036564 charliestweet (Charlotte Forsb

    Twitter Comment


    The Geometry of Social Media – Build a triangle & have your customers interact with one another: [link to post] – RT @jaybaer – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/charliestweet/statuses/6759036564 charliestweet (Charlotte Forsberg)

    Twitter Comment


    The Geometry of Social Media – Build a triangle & have your customers interact with one another: [link to post] – RT @jaybaer

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/charliestweet/status/6759036564 Charlotte Forsberg

    The Geometry of Social Media – Build a triangle & have your customers interact with one another: http://bit.ly/cbAi1 – RT @jaybaer

  • http://twitter.com/jwalery/status/6814959563 Jim Walery

    RT @webtw Really smart article – Triangles rule social media – come for the brand, stay for the people: http://ow.ly/JWb4 via @jaybaer

  • http://twitter.com/genny_barrios/status/7697241669 Genevieve Barrios

    The Geometry of Social Media – Why Triangles Rule – Jay Baer: http://bit.ly/2mti4j

  • http://twitter.com/genny_barrios/status/7742727595 genny barrios

    The Geometry of Social Media – Why Triangles Rule – Jay Baer: http://bit.ly/2mti4j

  • http://twitter.com/genny_barrios/status/7705833949 Genevieve Barrios

    The Geometry of Social Media – Why Triangles Rule – Jay Baer: http://bit.ly/2mti4j

  • http://twitter.com/Genny_Barrios/statuses/7783233370 Genny_Barrios (Genevieve Barri

    Twitter Comment


    The Geometry of Social Media – Why Triangles Rule – Jay Baer: [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/Genny_Barrios/statuses/7783233370 Genny_Barrios (Genevieve Barrios)

    Twitter Comment


    The Geometry of Social Media – Why Triangles Rule – Jay Baer: [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/Genny_Barrios/statuses/7754400048 Genny_Barrios (Genevieve Barri

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    The Geometry of Social Media – Why Triangles Rule – Jay Baer: [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/Genny_Barrios/statuses/7754400048 Genny_Barrios (Genevieve Barrios)

    Twitter Comment


    The Geometry of Social Media – Why Triangles Rule – Jay Baer: [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/TinyMalone/statuses/7697606939 TinyMalone (Tiny Malone)

    Twitter Comment


    RT @Genny_Barrios: The Geometry of Social Media – Why Triangles Rule – Jay Baer: [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/TinyMalone/statuses/7697606939 TinyMalone (Tiny Malone)

    Twitter Comment


    RT @Genny_Barrios: The Geometry of Social Media – Why Triangles Rule – Jay Baer: [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/genny_barrios/status/7832213090 Genevieve Barrios

    The Geometry of Social Media – Why Triangles Rule – Jay Baer: http://bit.ly/2mti4j

  • http://twitter.com/genny_barrios/status/7832213090 Genevieve Barrios

    The Geometry of Social Media – Why Triangles Rule – Jay Baer: http://bit.ly/2mti4j

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