FlyMSG - Add to Chrome!

The Lifecycle of Interaction in Social Media


Social media is made up of online communities where people collaborate with each other, share content and in general they are a collective influence or a collective wisdom.  Let’s examine the lifecycle of interaction in social media from a marketer’s perspective.  In general it is comprised of these four components:


When embarking on a social media marketing strategy the first place to start is to identify the communities that are meaningful to your business (fish where the fish are).  Once you find them, you must engage them.  You visit social media sites and you find people with common interests and you connect with them.  The social media sites you use may vary according to your industry and geographic location.

Once you engage people, then you must give to them.  This is a concept that I have found many marketers don’t get.  The reason is that marketing 1.0 is about pushing your message out and asking for something in the form of a lead or some other conversion we can measure.  In social media marketing we must first give to get.  When you give of yourself you are getting engaged in your community…Remember, social media marketing is a natural extension of our desire as humans to be social creatures.  You offer your opinions and your thoughts wherever and whenever the opportunity presents itself.  But, you always do it in a giving way.  Do not – I repeat – do not ask for something in return.  You would not do that at a cocktail party, so don’t dig yourself a hole and do that in a social media situation.  People online can be very unforgiving.

In summary, just have a giving attitude in social media and you’ll find many friends and you’ll build a good reputation for yourself and your company if your online identity is tied to your company.


Engaging and listening are very closely tied to each other but there is a distinction.  I argue that one of the things you can measure most in social media is that which you learn when you listen online.  Listening can be incredibly informative.  Listening to your community is part of the wisdom of the community.  Often there are thought leaders in your community who have good insights to offer.  Your online friends will send you links to articles, blog posts, videos, photos and generally content which can give you valuable insights which you may not have otherwise found.  Listening also lets you tap into market intelligence.  Listening can also result in some of the most measurable assets in social media marketing.


When we engage our community we give of our insights, we listen to their insights, ideas and opinions.  When we engage with our community we interact with them.  In your career you’ve earned the right to (finish this sentence).  Earning the right to do something in any business circumstance means you have the authority, credibility or know-how.  When you interact with your audience you should have some credibility.  You may be building your credibility with your community.  Or, you may have it from day one based on your recognized accomplishments in your industry.  Interacting with your community can take several forms.

First I’ll touch on personal interaction. We are not robots.  We are people with interests and personalities.  In social media it is very common for people to let their hair down and share things about themselves or their personality.  I personally enjoy seeing comments from people I follow online about the photos they’ve taken, their daughter’s wedding, or whatever personal tidbit it may be.  If you’re wondering what this has to do with marketing – everything!  Opening discussions in business settings often are about something other than business.  Social media affords us the opportunity to be ourselves and gain insights into people in our communities.  Don’t be all work and no play or you’ll be perceived as boring and only interested in advancing your business cause.

Marketing interaction in social media can be very effective but it must be approached carefully.  Posting links to blog posts or articles and asking for reaction is an effective way to interact. Even if people don’t respond, you’re still interacting with your community by sharing content.  Responding to other people’s comments or content they share is another effective way to interact.


Measuring results is one of my favorite topics in marketing.  The reality is that in recent years, measuring results has become increasingly sophisticated at a quantitative level.  And, there is also an element of qualitative measurement that is somewhat more difficult to measure, though very possible.  As David Meerman Scott tells us in his book The New Rules of Marketing & PR, not everything is measurable in social media marketing.  But measuring results can be achieved in a combination of qualitative and quantitative ways.

This topic alone warrants its own blog post.  For now, I’ll list some of the tools you can use to measure results:
Google Analytics
Google Webmaster Tools
Google Alerts
Gooble Blogsearch

Measure results in social media is a topic that warrants more coverage, so I’ll write more on these tools in another blog post.

This blog post is an edited excerpt of my (yet to be named) book on social media marketing to be published in the first quarter of 2009.

If you have any comments on these guidelines, please share them.

24 thoughts on “The Lifecycle of Interaction in Social Media”

  1. Hi Bernie,

    I like the framework that you propose for life cycle of interaction.

    I always recommend that companies start with listening. I recommend that they listen online for mentions of their brand, but also listen broader than their brand (for topics that their brand relates to). This is the foundation. Through listening, companies also learn about the culture of the communities and their interests before engaging so they know the rules/etiquette and can respect them (as you say, earn the right).

    I usually talk about two different steps in the engage part. First, responding. So many brands have customers blogging about ideas, issues, and questions for a company/brand and they are not responding – at all. A brand needs to address these questions. Not addressing them is like not answering your phone. If a brand gets out there and "joins the conversation", but leaves their customers' questions unanswered they won't seem genuine, in my view.

    Then I go to "participate" where a brand can now broadly participate (in a personal way – a point you make very well) in the conversations that their customers or community is interested in.

    Measurement is something that I think you can do at each step. You can measure at the listening and the engagement. For example, if a brand wants to begin to reach out to customers who are blogging about product issues, they can first measure the number of mentions of product issues that are being posted each day. Then they can measure the relative improvement as a result of their outreach efforts.

    Good luck with the book. You are braver than I (I take WAY too long to write anything to ever tackle a book).

    Thanks for the mention of Radian6 also.


    CEO, Radian6

  2. Measurement and "Return on Investment" is often the first question I am asked at the end of one of my keynote speeches.

    The problem is that people want to measure the same way they do for direct mail campaigns ("how many business reply cards did we get").

    But this doesn't work online.

    Instead we need to measure how well our ideas are spreading and who is exposed to them.

    Best, David

  3. I wouldn't want to be accused of not answering my phone by not responding to these two comments. 🙂

    There are indeed many things that can be measured during the proces of a new social media strategy. Many brands struggle with what to measure. Tools like Radian6 certainly help. Even baby steps in website analytics is a good start.

    To David's point, beyond the baby steps the metrics are different and can take some effort to determine what to measure.

    BTW, the book is a big effort. But, I'm committed.


  4. We are starting a buzz marketing company that is very similar to the companies you listed and it would be great if we could be on that list. is working as an agency now, but in the next couple months we will be releasing a consumer version of our software. It monitors and measures relevant online conversations and helps companies get involved in the conversation.

    Our purpose is to help small and medium businesses have real and meaningful conversations with their customers.

  5. Most of the companies you list are excellent at monitoring and tracking, but they do not actually measure anything. In order to truly measure ROI in social media you don't need a computer that approximates how a human thinks — that's not listening. You need real humans, members of your audience, listening. You need people who can integrate the various monitoring and research tools, do the correlations, draw conclusions and make recommendations. I use Radian 6 and Google Analytics every day as sources of data, but as a researcher I also know that I need other more traditional research tools if I really want to measure my results.

  6. I agree with Katie. Good tools allow smart humans to gather information and make observations from the conversations and trends seen in social media. This allows marketers to make decisions and test new strategies, or stop executing strategies that don't perform well.

  7. I think all of your commenters are missing the point of "measurement".

    At the end of the day, it's about the top line. How many leads, qualified opportunities and clients, came as a result of your social media?

    Everything else is a leading indicator.

  8. Pingback: Review of the Internet news of the Day - Fast.Fwd.Innov@tion

  9. I find it interesting that all the comments above are focused on the fourth element of social media interaction. What about engage, listen and interact?

    Measurement is important but you have to create something to measure.


  10. I hear what you are saying @Bernie, but the measurement side of things is very often linked to the budget that controls the other factors. Too many Communications efforts have started down the path without any clear definitions of what is going to be measured, how, and why. It may seem like putting the cart before the horse, but ultimately going through that exercise will often do 2 things… affect what is created, and mitigate any downstream problems caused by differing ideas of what constitutes success.

  11. Pingback: The Microcosm of social networks « Direct Marketing Observations

  12. Pingback: Social Media's Lifecycle | New Age Lead Generation

  13. Congratulations on having one of the most sopsticated websites Ive come across in some time! Its just incredible how much you can take away from something simply because of how visually beautiful it is. Youve put together a great website space great graphellocs, videos, layout. this is definitely a must-see site!

  14. Excellent goods from you, man. The Lifecycle of Interaction in Social Media – Find and Convert | Find and Convert I have understand your stuff previous to and you are just extremely fantastic. I really like what you have acquired here, really like what you are saying and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it wise. I can not wait to read much more from you. This is actually a wonderful The Lifecycle of Interaction in Social Media – Find and Convert | Find and Convert informations.

  15. I'm pleased, I have to admit. Definitely not often I do face the web site that's the two educative and enjoyable, and even allow me tell you, you have got hit your nail to the matter. Your idea is excellent; the issue is something which too few individuals are speaking intelligently regarding. Im very happy i always found this specific around my hunt for something about it.

  16. Pingback: The Best free classifieds Site

  17. This might not be the most beneficial place to ask this, but I’m trying to find a pest management business in the pittsburgh region and have no way to find out who’s the most effective. I discovered this company that’s truly close to me and wished to see if any one has any critiques on them. Spectrum Pest Control, 3058 West Liberty Avenue, Dormont, PA 15216 – (412) 446-2802

  18. Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve been to your blog before but after browsing through a few of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m certainly happy I found it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back often!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

I agree to these terms.