The 5 Cornerstones of Social Media

We'll begin this online course with the five cornerstones of social media.

When actualized, these cornerstones enable social media success, which we define as a consistent increase in exposure and engagement (both of which lead to relevance and trust with prospective customers), as well as higher lifetime customer value with existing customers.

The five cornerstones are:

In order to better understand these five corners, let's dig a little bit deeper into each of them:


    Relationship marketing focuses on customer loyalty and brand advocacy, rather than shorter-term goals like individual sales.

    As in any relationship, it's imperative to focus on developing trust, which starts with the first three stages of the digital marketing sales cycle awareness, interest and engagement.

    In order to develop trust, we must create a sense of personalization (What's in it for me, the consumer?) and added value, beyond the traditional business-customer relationship. Added value comes in many forms, including entertainment, knowledge and information, creating or enhancing experiences, help and problem-solving.

    By committing your business or organization to find and execute on consistently providing added value beyond the traditional business-customer relationship, you will develop deeper levels of trust with your prospective and existing customers.

    Just like we spend more time with people who we trust, we also spend more money with businesses that we trust (and recommend our friends do the same).


    Customer experience is defined as the interactions between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship.

    Because social media gives us as businesses and organizations the opportunity to be in our customers' lives on a day-to-day (heck, even an hour-to-hour) basis, customer experience should be at the forefront of your approach, intentions, content and various interactions that people have with your business or organization on social media.

    Often times, people fail to realize that social media is more about what happens offline than what happens online. The majority of content that people share on social media originates from their offline experiences, while the majority of content that people consume on social media enhances their pleasures or helps solve their problems (mostly) in the offline world.

    The most effective social media programs consistently create or enhance or improve people's offline experiences, via content.

    With regard customer service, social media isn't just about giving your business or organization another means to answer questions from current and prospective customers. That's an obvious opportunity that every business and organization should already be doing, and finding others ways to do it better.

    With social media, we can also get ahead of the game by foreseeing people's questions, concerns, confusions, misinformation or lack of information, hesitations and/or problems as they directly or indirectly pertain to your business or organization -- as well as your industry -- and then sharing content that proactively answers these questions, negates these concerns, clears up the confusion and misinformation, completes the lack of information, removes these hesitations, and solves these problems before they're brought to your attention by future customers.


    Branding is what you want people to think and feel when they interact with your business or organization online and offline. As an IBM executive once said, your brand is not what you sell.

    Content marketing is the art of communicating with people, without selling to them. Content marketing matters because, today, we're not competing for people's money in digital and social media; we're competing for their time and attention. (More on that in this post).

    As a business or organization, effective content marketing means the vast majority of your content should not explicitly depict who you are and what you sell. Instead, effective content marketing depicts what your business or organization represents, and the added value that those representations create.


    Paid media refers to publicity gained through traditional advertising on online and offline.

    Earned media refers to exposure, engagement and leads gained through other people. User-generated content, a customer "checking in" to your business on Facebook, or someone sharing your content are examples of earned media.

    Owned media is defined as channels that are within your complete control, such as websites, apps, blogs, and email lists. The W Luxury Travel Guide to Jaffa is an example of owned media.

    Rented media refers to channels that we can use for marketing and other purposes, but nonetheless are channels or platforms that we do not own. Rented medium includes social media platforms, publishing websites (e.g. third-party blogs), and email marketing platforms.


    Social media success is as much attributed to what a business or organization does externally (content marketing, customer service, etc) as it is to what that business or organization does internally.

    In order to maximize social media success, we recommend that everyone who works for and is affiliated with your business or organization -- not just the people in the marketing and sales departments -- understands why you're using content marketing and social media, the goals and objectives of the program, and how they can contribute to its success. (More on how this actually comes to life later in the course.)

Complete and Continue