The 6 Spheres of Social Media Marketing

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.]

About the Author: 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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