The Big Five Approaches to Social Media Template

Someone says, “go, do social media!” We instantly think Facebook posting, tweeting, and other typical social tactics.

By analyzing the tactics and outcomes of hundreds of brands, we’ve come to understand that social media falls into one of five major buckets of effort. Some organizations choose to focus all of their efforts in one of these buckets, while others may approach them as a tactical blend.

Download the Big Five Approaches to Social Media Template (pdf).


Use this list to think through your own work and how you may fall into these groups.  An added benefit is that you can share this with leadership to get their buy-in on your social strategy.

Brand Maintenance: Brand maintenance in social media means that the organization has all of the typical social media accounts and is posting and responding to mentions of their name. An organization that is fundamentally using social for customer service is using the brand maintenance approach.

Community: Community can be about building or nurturing community of all types, including brand ambassadors, people who love your brand, or people who share your passion points. You can be at the center or the periphery of a community, and be a passive or active member.

Influencer: The influencer approach is about identifying relevant influencers, closely monitoring their social media activities, and engaging with them as appropriate. It can be about building relationships, too, much in the same way that traditional PR was often based on building relationships with media.

Thought Leadership/Reputation: Thought leadership includes proactive and reactive reputation management work in which you are endeavoring to place the brand favorably as having credibility or expertise in your arena. Content marketing typically falls into this bucket.

Big Splash: Big Splash approaches are creative programs that are usually intended to get a lot of attention. These include contests, sweepstakes, and viral videos.  While these tactics don’t usually help to foster community or influence, they can be great for awareness and the creation of connections.