The 6 Spheres of Social Media Marketing

by Brian Carter June 25th, 2009 

I'm so excited about my new diagram :-)

The 6 Spheres of Social Media Marketing

YOU: "Beautiful, Brian. Looks complicated. What is it?"

ME: It shows the stages of internet marketing, including SEO, PPC, Email, and social media.

YOU: So why'd you call it the 6 spheres of SOCIAL media?

ME: This diagram integrates social media with all the other internet marketing. That's the new thing.

YOU: Oh, cool.

[Download a PDF of all the diagrams in this post.]

What's the Point of The 6 Spheres Diagram?

The point is for you to see how it's a process, with different actions and tactics depending on how close your prospect is to your ultimate goal.

The assumption is that you want prospects to buy something, or if you're a charity or non-profit, you might want them to donate or sign a petition.

(Yes, maybe now your goal is to get emails or build your twitter account or whatever- but those are ends that become means to the real end... if you're ultimately not making money, you're going to have to get another job.)

Surviving and thriving means keeping the end in mind, which is the small green sphere at the bottom.

[NOTE: for clever people, yes, they are circles, not spheres. but if your computer were in 3D, you'd see that they are actually spheres. No, no really.]

How Will This 6 Spheres Diagram Help Me?

My 5 steps of optimization teaches that in order to get where you want to go efficiently, you need:

1. A goal
2. A key metric
3. An understanding of where you're at
4. Strategy and tactics
5. The ability to change your route based on what works and what doesn't.

The 6 spheres diagram gives you a map of how to get prospects to take action no matter where they're at, and no matter what internet marketing channel you use.

Let's break it down.

Playing the Music of the 6 Spheres... In Three Stages


1. The outermost sphere, your universe of all prospects, can only be reached by the strongest customer acquisition methods, the ones with the greatest reach: search engine optimization, pay per click, TweetROI (twitter pay per tweet), Twitterhawk (targeted twitter @replies), PR, and branding channels.

2. The second and third outermost spheres are considered relationship building.

3. The inner three spheres begin with your website and end in your most wanted response. Those last three include conversion optimization, email copywriting, and your offline sales process.

The 6 Spheres of Social Marketing and the 4 Phases of Social Marketing

In case you wonder how this relates to my blog post about the 4 phases of social media marketing, the 4 phases all happen outside of your website, so they apply only to the outer three spheres. Check out this diagram...


1. Strategy and brand planning should begin when you still have yet to establish your social media outposts (profiles).
2. Establishing social media presence makes it possible for people in the outermost sphere to become aware of you.
3. Engagement in the two outermost spheres creates a relationship and begins to create affinity for your brand.
4. ROI offers make sense once you have built relationships into the third sphere.

Understanding Where Prospects Are At In The 6 Phases

spherenames20021. The Universe: This is the universe of all your prospects. The size of that group depends on scope of your offerings and popularity of the niche. These people may not know about you but definitely are not members of your email or social media lists. You're working on the Attention aspect of the AIDA acronym.

2. Awareness/Initial Engagement: These people are aware enough about you to interact with you, but they aren't sold on you yet. Engagement happens on almost every level, but the difference is in the degree and strength of the relationship you've achieved. Now you're working on the Interest aspect of AIDA.

3. Social Media List: These people are interested enough to become a Facebook fan,a Twitter follower, or subscribe to your blog RSS. This is similar to your email list, but I regard an email list as a stronger connection and more responsive. We might debate that Gen Y's attitude toward email will change this in the future, but it's equally likely that as Gen Y gets deeper into the workforce they will accept and use email as Gen X and the Boomers do. NOTE: you may turn regular website visitors into SM list members, too. There are a lot of other possible directions. I'm really just examining the process of pulling new customers in via social media.

4. Your Website: People who get to this level have reached an area you have great control over. Everything your website does should help convert visitors to the next level of relationship. That might be to subscribe to your email list or become a lead. Or you might try to get them to buy now. This is the Desire aspect of AIDA.

5. Pre-Conversion: These people are on your email list or have submitted a lead to the sales force. The lead in many cases is closer to a sale than an email subscriber is, unless your lead collecting form is very general.

6. Converted: These people give you your most wanted result. For ecommerce, that means they bought something. For charities that's a donation. For a petition drive, it's a signature. The is the Action part of AIDA.

Examples of Companies Doing a Great Job In Each Sphere

1. Universe responses by topic: Frank @ComcastCares, Ben @OmnitureCare. Both of these companies are using Twitter to reach out and grab people when they talk about Comcast or Omniture respectively. That's both customer service and PR (in the form of reputation management).

2. Engagement with @replies: @coffeegroundz made history as perhaps the first to take a to-go order online from a customer.

3. Relationship building with SM lists: Both @ComcastCares and @OmnitureCare do this too. And you could argue that @coffeegroundz did this by being open minded enough to take an order on Twitter. But this is the nitty gritty tweeting that many companies are doing on a daily basis. Great examples include Christi Day @SouthwestAir, Morgan and Lindsey @JetBlue, Brad @Starbucks, Scott Monty @Ford, and Lucia @pandora_radio.

Just check out their stream and look for @replies they've written, especially if there are several to the same person. Everybody tweets and announces things and promotes stuff, but the twitter accounts that are having personal and helpful conversations with people are the ones to watch.

4. Direct ROI offers to SM lists: @DellOutlet brought in $1 million from offers tweeted in 2008. They're the pioneers. Looking forward to seeing more successes in this area from companies with less of a mega-brand. I'd love to hear from small businesses that have succeeded here.

Wow. What Now?

That's a lot to digest. I think you'll need to read this several times. It's a bit denser than my usual blog post.

This all provides you with a map for social media marketing. As you might guess, there's still a lot of work left:

  • What's your brand planning and brand projection process for collaborative brainstorming with clients?
  • What viral acceleration strategies fit the brand and goals?
  • Will engagement be executed by client, agency, or both?
  • What kind of ROI offers make sense?

[Download a PDF of all the diagrams in this post.]

Brian Carter

CEO of FanReach, Brian Carter has been an Internet Marketer, speaker, and social media trainer since 1999. Brian has been quoted and profiled by Information Week, US News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur Magazine. He is the author of the book How To Get More Facebook fans. He is both an adwords consultant and a facebook consultant. Check out his his free Facebook Marketing 101 course, and the full FanReach Facebook Marketing and Advertising course.

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30 Responses to “The 6 Spheres of Social Media Marketing”

  1. Leslie Hawk says:

    This is really good…very insightful and helpful…thanks so much for sharing.

  2. […] just ran across this excellent diagram and article of The 6 Spheres of Social Media Marketing, and have to say I like the way it lays everything out in an easy to understand format. The process […]

  3. Dhane Diesil says:

    What a great article!

    This is a great blueprint for anyone who considers themselves "in business".

    Keep up the great work!

    You have a new subscriber.

  4. […] Originally posted here: The 6 Spheres of Social Media Marketing | Search Engine People … […]

  5. Lovely image, and a valuable way to look at the sales or conversion funnel. As someone who works in search, I'm going to now break out keywords for each of the six phases.

  6. […] from Brian Carter at Search Engine People! Actually, there are lots of interesting points about how social media marketing interacts with other aspects of search marketing that accompany the pretty diagram, which does help […]

  7. […] The 6 Spheres of Social Media Marketing, Search Engine People […]

  8. says:

    Les 6 Spheres de la relation clients…

    Passer de prospects à clients… avec les média sociaux…

  9. Gabriella says:

    I have to say I am impressed you're not just a funny guy you actually have a very creative and ingenious way of explaining things. Here I thought you were a stand up comic I had no idea. Well done. I will be sharing this with a few colleagues.

  10. Debi Davis says:

    After two solid months of wading through blogs and articles about SM strategies and models,you have provided me with one that 1)seems largely comprehensive; and 2)I understand. A nice balance of clean lines without leaving out too much of the detail. Thank you! I'm going to use this as a guide alongside a strategy for choosing tools and methods as part of a specific organization's social media campaign. I'm giving you full credit for providing the backbone.

  11. Brian, what an amazing post! This was really well put together bringing together the power of social medial marketing into an understandable format for people who struggle. I'm going to have to tweet about this.


  12. […] person is at and what your next steps should be. It's a great map for social media marketing. The Six Spheres of Social Media Marketing. I love Social Media! – Feel free to share this with friends! These icons link to social […]

  13. Cool Gifts says:

    Wow this is a great diagram. I'm especially fond of your 4 phases of social marketing. I feel that many businesses just jump right in without any plan or strategy. I also think that measuring your ROI for social media is something that's not done as often as it should be.

  14. Very useful resources indeed. I downloaded the diagrams and I think I am gonna print them out and share with my colleagues. We are heavily relying on online marketing for our business and social media is something so new to us that we are unable to understand better.
    Thanks a lot for the great article.

  15. Brian. Hey I saw your twitter this morning and linked here to read this on my iPhone. Good article. Very nice diagrams. Thanks for the info and thoughts. Be well.

  16. Mark Bowden says:

    Great article very well written, with a mass of useful information.

    One thing I would like to add, a web TV show really helps build the relationship with your followers quicker than anything I have seen before.


  17. Well done, it's clear and executable. Graphics are great, and I try to do your suggest at my activities.
    Thanks by your share,

  18. […] Brian Carter/Search Engine People: The 6 Spheres of Social Media Marketing […]

  19. […] The 6 Spheres of Social Media Marketing […]

  20. Ismael Ahmed says:

    These diagrams help explain the different ways to approach your goals in business. Nice Job!

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  22. T says:

    Nice article and useful graphics. I think we also need to remember to use other social media sites besides the typical Facebook and Twitter. YouTube, DailyMotion, Veoh, AdWido, Vimeo, and so on provide excellent platforms for publishing videos online to reach a potentially huge audience.

  23. […] Acquiring contacts is a business goal. The ultimate goal is ROI through some sort of sale, but the first milestone is building a distribution list or audience. As long as those fans are relevant, you can get ROI in the next step of the social marketing process. […]

  24. inside sales says:

    that is an awesome little visual there. it looks like something out of a textbook. It explains the process very well.

  25. Danielle says:

    I think I am gonna print them out and share with my colleagues. We are heavily relying on online marketing for our business and social media is something so new to us that we are unable to understand better. I am impressed you're not just a funny guy you actually have a very creative and ingenious way of explaining things.

  26. Kirsty says:

    I wanted to build a Social Media List but I really don't know where to start. How do I select the people to be added on my fan list or to invite to be fan on my product or services?
    .-= Kirsty recently posted: Joomla Shopping Carts Worth Trying =-.

  27. Steve says:

    This was really well put together bringing together the power of social medial marketing into an understandable format for people who struggle. I am impressed you're not just a funny guy you actually have a very creative and ingenious way of explaining things. Thank you.

  28. […] you have your own following established, whether this is old school friends or new neighbours, then social media is a great platform to make others aware of your online presence. Tweet about recent updates to […]