The Oxford English Dictionary defines an ecosystem as “a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment.” If we forget about the literal definition of the word “physical,” we find that social networks fit right in. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are all ecosystems of people and brands interacting with one another.
You’re part of that ecosystem the moment you set up a profile, create your first post, or are mentioned by another user. The principles of digital marketing say, therefore, that you can change the ecosystem with what you add to (or take away) from it, but you’ll also be changed by what others say and do on the network.
Just like nature’s ecosystems, social networks are:
- Growing or Shrinking
From a starting point of just a few friends to 1.13 billion daily active users on average for June 2016, Facebook has been growing since its creation in 2004. Meanwhile, Myspace started the same year, growing from 1 million users to more than 75 million in 2008, and then declining. As of January 2015, Myspace’s numbers were closer to 50 million.
Most networks start out as a community of individuals with an interest in sharing something, whether that’s business contacts, cool stuff they find on the web, or photos. It’s only after enough individuals become invested in the network that it becomes a great place for marketing. That, and the gradual addition of features, such as business pages/profiles, paid advertising options, and analytics.
There’s no way to control the conversation on the web. Sure, you can pay for ads or boost your posts, but ultimately networks are living, breathing things that need organic participation from the community. What user wants a feed full of ads — even targeted, interesting, well-produced ads? You don’t, so why would any other customer?
Because the web is organic, there’s no way to know what’s coming next. You can plant the right seeds and water them, but your success rate is completely unpredictable.
In a digital marketing ecosystem, consumers are collectively in charge. A system like that demands a consumer-centric approach. Luckily, social networks and other web traffic already produce a lot of data. Companies like yours just need a way to harness that data so you can carve out some space for your brand.
Enter the customer journey map.