posted: 2014-12-26 by Steven Grinberg

Because the industry is still growing, evolving, and adapting, there are many ways to approach or enter it. To quote a very successful classic rock band's highly applicable lyrics, "You've got to be crazy; You've got to have a real need." (Extra points if you can name the band and song.) The usual route is to find some unmet or badly met need within the industry and market this need-solving product or service to potential customers and hope to outdo the competition. While this can work, let's get a little crazy...

In 2005, W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne published a book called Blue Ocean Strategy. This book argues that companies can create uncontested market space, called "blue oceans," in which success can be found. This is an interesting approach, especially for tech-related solutions, as it bakes disruptive innovation directly into the planning process. Essentially, this process takes existing value elements upon which industry members compete and attempts to create new value elements within the industry. In this section, we will present two blue ocean strategies -one for entrepreneurs, who are considering entry into the social media industry, and another for marketers, who might want to utilize social media for their marketing purposes. As we examine our proposed blue ocean strategy, focus your attention on the thick blue line which represents you, as entrepreneurs, exploring the possibility of entering the social media industry. You can see your proposed value curve in blue plotted against both the existing social media industry curve in red and the traditional media industry curve in green. We've laid out several value elements along the X-axis which, over time, have come to define the success and shortcomings of each respective industry such as acquisitions, cost, research and development. The areas we think you can successfully outperform in terms of value start at scalability and include the subsequent elements to the right. Let's examine each of these elements.

  • Scalability: Ability to handle a growing user-base.
  • Adaptability: Ability to handle a changing environment such as wearable tech, Google Glass, virtual reality, etc.
  • Encryption: Securing data at rest (while it is being stored in databases) and during transmission.
  • Customization: Providing users the ability to change any aspect of the service based on their personal desires.*
  • Integration: Unifying your services with third party products and services - FB in your car, your fridge tweets.
*Currently most SNS allow users to change account settings, but not things like your feed content, font, color, etc.

These value elements were selected based on some of the trends and bottlenecks discussed in the External Influences & Trends section. The goal with these elements wouldn't necessarily be to create a SNS that offers some combination of them, although it is feasible, but this can also be a foundation for a service that offers any one of these elements as a solution for multiple SNS.

Marketer's motivations were discussed in the Customers section. A few of the most important goals for marketer's utilization of social media are increasing exposure, website traffic, and business insights. There exist various methods for achieving these goals via SNS, including customer segmentation and engagement, storytelling, or viral marketing strategies. These methods are valuable to marketers because the receivers of the marketing materials, the end-users, have responded well to them. These might be a reflection of the end-users values or needs.

Furthermore, there are an array of tools and services that assist in the social media marketing process such as digital marketing systems, automation tools, and analytics engines. What, then, might be a blue ocean approach to social media marketing? If we agree that successful marketing strategies are dependent on end-user needs, we can look at some of the trending services and business models, as well as some of the innovative technologies that will drive social media, through the filter of the user's needs to create new value elements.

Examples might be marketing controls for the end-user to specify how much and what type of marketing material is directed at them; customizable marketing material that allows the end-users to modify the messaging within the material and redistribute it; and a marketing adaptation to the internet of things (IoT). Here is a blue ocean chart that compares the current marketing methods to your marketing methods based on our findings. While you should continue to support the current methods, there should be an effort invested in density and type control, custom editing, and integration with IoT.