3 Phases of Social Media Network Success for Marketing

3 Phases of Social Audience Success

The social media landscape is complex.  

Social media network analysis makes it easier to understand and navigate social media.

Using the NodeXL social media network analysis add-in for Excel from the Social Media Research Foundation, I have made a large collection of network visualizations and reports, many of which can be seen in the NodeXL Graph Gallery.

Now that I have seen many social media network maps I observe that marketers are often interested in building “broadcast” network patterns.  

This is one of the six basic social media network patterns documented in the recent Pew Research Internet Project report about Mapping Twitter Topic Networks.

There are at least three phases of possible success for a social media marketing effort:

The three phases of social media network success for marketing are crucial steps in the evolution of a brand’s online presence. In the initial phase, the primary objective is to build an audience that is engaged enough to share or retweet the brand’s content. This is fundamental as it signifies that the brand’s messages are resonant enough with individuals that they are willing to spread the word, extending the brand’s reach beyond its immediate followers.

As the brand progresses to the second phase, it witnesses a form of exponential growth or network effect. Here, the brand’s content doesn’t just get shared, but those who share it start to build their own dedicated audiences. This signifies a shift from a simple broadcaster model to a more complex, multi-layered network of interactions. This phase amplifies the brand’s reach even further as the content now moves through various nodes, reaching different clusters of audiences.

The third phase represents the zenith of social media network success – the formation of a dense, interconnected community. This phase transcends regular engagement; it is where a robust and self-sustaining ecosystem of conversations and relationships forms around the brand. In this community, the brand’s content serves as a catalyst rather than the sole focus, fostering an environment where members engage with each other, share ideas, and contribute content. This community sustains itself, continuing to thrive even in periods when the brand’s own content output decreases.

3 phases for social media network success

Phase 1_ You get an audience

Phase 1: You get an audience 

In phase 1, you get an audience of people who will retweet what you post.  

Phase 2_ Your audience gets an audience

Phase 2: Your audience gets an audience

In phase 2, some of your audience gets its own audience for the content they repost from you.

Phase 3_ Audience becomes Community

Phase 3: Audience becomes a community

In phase 3, a dense web of relationships emerges, a community of relationships.

 The final stage, phase 3, is a desirable phase because it sustains the conversation event when new messages from the brand account are not created.

Reaching this third phase is a significant achievement for any brand as it denotes a shift from merely being a voice on social media to becoming a central, integral part of a vibrant community. However, achieving this is not the end of the journey. Maintaining this community requires consistent effort, genuine engagement, and an ongoing commitment to providing value. Brands must continue to monitor, analyze, and adapt their strategies to the evolving dynamics of their social networks. Utilizing tools like NodeXL for social media network analysis can provide valuable insights into the complex web of interactions, helping brands to navigate the social media landscape more effectively.

In conclusion, while the path to social media network success involves traversing through these three distinct phases, the journey doesn’t stop at reaching a community of relationships. Instead, it evolves into a continuous cycle of growth, engagement, and adaptation. By understanding and leveraging the dynamics of each phase, marketers can create more impactful, enduring social media strategies that not only reach but resonate with their audiences, fostering lasting connections and building a loyal, active community.

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