Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media
Jan H. Kietzmann *, Kristopher Hermkens, Ian P. McCarthy,
Bruno S. Silvestre
Segal Graduate School of Business, Simon Fraser University, 500 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC V6C 1W6,
Abstract Traditionally, consumers used the Internet to simply expend content: they read it, they watched it, and they used it to buy products and services. Increasingly, however, consumers are utilizing platforms–—such as content sharing sites, blogs, social networking, and wikis–—to create, modify, share, and discuss Internet content.
This represents the social media phenomenon, which can now signiﬁcantly impact a ﬁrm’s reputation, sales, and even survival. Yet, many executives eschew or ignore this form of media because they don’t understand what it is, the various forms it can take, and how to engage with it and learn. In response, we present a framework that deﬁnes social media by using seven functional building blocks: identity, conversations, sharing, presence, relationships, reputation, and groups. As different social media activities are deﬁned by the extent to which they focus on some or all of these blocks, we explain the implications that each block can have for how ﬁrms should engage with social media. To conclude, we present a number of recommendations regarding how ﬁrms should develop strategies for monitoring, understanding, and responding to different social media activities.
# 2011 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. All rights reserved.
1. Welcome to the jungle: The social media ecology
Social media employ mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms via which individuals and communities share, co-
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