2.5 Social media performance potential User benefits

Learning Objective: To understand the importance of user value in the context of social media strategy development and to be able to identify and apply appropriate user value.

Reading time: approx. 16 minutes

Exercises: Exercises are in the PDF of all exercises of this course. Download it from here.

This section focuses on user benefits from and through social media and its importance to social media performance potential.

In the potential-based strategy model, user benefit is a separate strategy component due to its importance for strategy development and success in social media. At the same time, user benefit is a central factor in all phases of strategy development. In this way, we ensure that a social media strategy based on the potential-based strategy model sufficiently takes into account and shapes this decisive factor of social media performance potential.

Definition of the UserBenefit in pbsm

UserBenefit in the potential-based strategy model for social media is the benefit provided to the user from and through the social media strategy. Make sure that you do not confuse the user benefit with the benefit from products and services or the company benefit.

Strategic importance of user benefits

The UserBenefit is the success engine of our social media strategy, because it ensures that users are interested in our strategy and its content and, if designed accordingly, become active in it. It is therefore a key success factor of a social media strategy.

The UserBenefit ensures and shapes the attractiveness of a social media offering for the user and competes with the UserBenefit of performance and attention competitors

If there is no convincing and competitive user benefit, our social media strategy is unlikely to be successful.

Since UserBenefit has a direct impact on other strategy components, we treat it as a strategy component as well. Not least in order to be able to recognize and shape the mutual influence with other contents of our strategy more clearly.

Strategic insights for the userBenefits of our strategy

The options for action for the UserBenefits show which possible and meaningful UserBenefits we can use for our social media strategy and what the competitive situation looks like for this / these UserBenefits.

This allows us to identify potential strengths and weaknesses of our social media strategy in advance – before we go to market with it – and shape our strategy accordingly. Strategy development based on weak user benefits is not recommended.

If we are unable to deploy a more attractive user benefit than our competitors, we must try to compensate for this with other strategy components that have a high impact on the success of the strategy. The strategy components motivation and participation are recommended for this purpose.

Role of user benefits in the potential-based strategy model

UserBenefit is an element of the strategy that is central to the success of the strategy because it is critical to the acceptance and implementation of the strategy. UserBenefit affects both reach, their activity, and user attitudes and engagement.

Types of UserBenefits in pbsm

User benefits can be material or idealistic, egoistic or altruistic. The UserBenefit can of course also consist of a combination of different types of UserBenefits.

Material UserBenefit

The user receives economic benefits from the social media strategy and his participation in the strategy. For example, he may receive economic benefits as part of the company’s performance (better prices, higher or additional services) or economic values for his engagement (commissions, rewards for redistributing content or generating leads).

Ideal UserBenefit

With his participation, the user supports a goal that is not connected with material but ideal benefits. This could be, for example, the support of ideas and values or the support of projects that benefit the general public, but also the support of particular interests that are not necessarily designed for the general public or only have regional or local relevance.

Ideal values are also relationships. So when our social media strategy enables or facilitates relationships with other users, we create an ideal user benefit.

Selfish UserBenefit

Selfish UserBenefit only affects the person of the user himself. Others do not participate in this benefit. These could be material benefits, for example, such as commissions or rewards for services within the scope of the social media strategy, or as non-material value, for example, a highlighted perception and distinction of one’s own person.

Altruistic UserBenefit

The altruistic UserBenefit is characterized by the fact that the user does not achieve any personal benefit – neither material nor immaterial / idealistic. He acts out of inner conviction for the benefit of the cause. The personal advantage has no or minimal importance in the decision about his commitment. Commitment or support for animal or nature conservation is an example of this UserBenefit.

Intrinsic and extrinsic user benefits

The distinction between intrinsically and extrinsically based user benefits is not always easy. The following are some explanations.

  • Monetary, economic benefit – extrinsic: The social media user has an economic benefit as a result of the social media strategy. For example, through perks that others do not receive. If the focus is on economic benefit, a sender-recipient relationship is usually sufficient. One Audience is already enough for this.
  • Status and ego – intrinsic: The benefit of the social media user is recognition, a status and a confirmation of one’s ego. This can be done through public recognition, public prominence, or confirmation of special status. This is based on a more or less elitist claim. On the one hand, this reduces the range, on the other hand, it can serve as an incentive for many. Think of forms of competition on an athletic or spiritual level and the recognition earned therein. In order to sufficiently satisfy status and ego as user benefits, a comprehensive form of self-presentation and the clearest possible forms of recognition by other social media users are mandatory. It is in the nature of things that this corresponds more to the usage format of a community than an audience. So, when we think about user benefits that can be attributed to the category of status and ego, let’s keep in mind that we need the usage format of community. In an Audience we will hardly be able to build on this effect.
  • Community and belonging: it is human nature that we like to feel we belong to a community. We are, after all, social beings. The desire to belong to a group is individual, as is the question of which group a user wants to feel part of. In this UserBenefit, especially the visibility of recognition and feedback is essential for success. The community is indispensable here as a usage format.
  • Competence, empowerment – intrinsic: The social media strategy empowers users to do something that would otherwise have been more difficult or impossible for them to do. In a community or individually, the social media user acquires skills – whether technical, scientific, economic or practical. Imagine a company producing equipment for the home gardening enthusiast and the social media benefit is in the know how provided by companies as well as other gardening enthusiasts. In principle, all usage formats are possible for this UserBenefit, whereby each specific UserBenefit that particularly benefits from community speaks in favor of the community format.
  • Self-actualizationintrinsic: The social media strategy facilitates or enables a form of self-actualization. For example, in the form of a framework or platform where the individual can realize himself in which he receives an audience or support for his goal or in which he can collaborate with others for a common goal. Both audience and community formats are possible here, depending on the specific user benefit.

Services and functions of the UserBenefits

The UserBenefit gains its special significance from the sum of the services it is supposed to provide for the success of the social media strategy / social media use.

Power for the range

The UserBenefit is the engine or draught horse for building up the reach. It is the reason why users are interested in and participate in our social media offer. If we work with a low or arbitrary user benefit, this will also have an impact on building the reach. The greater the user benefit of our strategy, the easier it is to build our reach. If we use a user benefit with a clear unique position in the competition, this is a clear competitive advantage. If we work with a user benefit that is already used extensively by other competitors, it will be difficult for us to set ourselves apart from the competition or to assert ourselves through the user benefit – the driver of the strategy. If we are new to a competition, offering the same or equivalent user benefits as established competitors is not a good way to compete. It is not easy to find a user benefit in an intense competition that is very attractive for broad user groups and not occupied by the competition.

Target group relevance

If we address certain target groups with our social media strategy, it is essential that our user benefits are highly relevant to these target groups. A user benefit that is of little interest to our target groups is fatal to the success of a social media strategy. This emphasizes a compelling need that we also hear all too often from marketing and sales: know your customers, know your target audiences. Without this knowledge, it is unlikely to implement an enduringly successful social media strategy.

This prerequisite also explains why we should not forgo the integration of the most important functional areas with market know-how. The higher the market and target group expertise on which we base a social media strategy, the higher the chances of success of this strategy.

Performance for the timeliness and activity of the range

UserBenefit is the strongest incentive for building reach and should also be the strongest driver of activity and timeliness in that reach. The topicality of a range means that this range does not originate from past times, but is still current in its scope, the users are not deadbeats and we can actually reach their users through this range.

The activity of a reach stands for the fact that users of a reach react to what happens in this reach. In the reach of an audience, this stands for the fact that users also perceive the content of the audience and – hopefully – react to it. In a community, activity means that the users use this community at least passively.

Performance for user motivation

The user benefit of a social media strategy interacts particularly intensively with user motivation. This interaction should work in both directions, i.e. the user benefit should promote the user’s motivation to use the social media offering and the motivation should support the user benefit.

For example, if the UserBenefit of a strategy is to promote social self-presentation, this UserBenefit can be supported by motivational structures that, for example, valorize each activity of the user for its self-presentation, through representation, evaluation, forced recognition, etc.

Performance for user engagement

The more engaged the users of a reach, the more successful that reach can become. The performance of the user benefit should therefore also promote user engagement, i.e. the activity of users. Engagement can be ad hoc, one-time, occasional, permanent, individual, or organized and integrated. Depending on how far we succeed not only in producing user engagement but also in shaping it, we create leverage for the success of our social media offering. Therefore, it is highly recommended when selecting and designing the user benefits to

  • the duration of the user engagement
  • the scope of user engagement
  • the degree of organization and integration of user engagement

of the user benefit. UserEngagement can take many different forms. When searching for, selecting and evaluating one or more UserBenefits, it makes sense to consider the quality of the UserBenefit from the outset.

  • Permanent user engagement: the performance of UserBenefit for user engagement is permanent and not subject to major fluctuations. Examples include self-expression or relationships.
  • One-time effect of the UserBenefit: the UserBenefit is of a one-time nature. I.e. it must be constantly worked out anew. A typical example of this is the benefit of content.
  • Situational user engagement: a user benefit that has a situational effect on user engagement is dependent on a specific situation that must be present for the user to engage. Here, care should be taken to ensure that this situation can also be created by the company if required.
  • spontaneous user engagement: the user benefit leads to a spontaneous reaction. This is the case with emotional content, when the reaction triggers direct emotions that lead to an unreflective action. Examples of this are, for example, corresponding images. Keyword Catcontent.
  • Organized user engagement: here a user benefit causes the organized engagement of users. The user joins an organization or at least gets involved in an organized way. A typical user benefit could come from the motivation of participation, co-design or the desire to be part of a movement or supporter of a good cause.

Social relevance / network effect of a user benefit

Social relevance and network effect represent an effect that is enhanced by social interaction or extension. Relevance means that the user benefit has a special meaning in social relationships or self-expression. The network effect stands for a benefit that grows with the number of users who use it. The most popular example outside of social media is the telephone / telephone network whose usefulness grows with the number of users. In social media, social networks are particularly affected by the network effect. Affected because there is both a positive and a negative network effect. In a negative network effect, the benefit decreases as the number of (active) users dwindles.

Possible problems with the UserBenefit

Lack of target group relevance or target group coverage

If a UserBenefit is only of very limited relevance to target groups or if the UserBenefit only corresponds to the interests of the desired target groups to a limited extent, it is advisable to either change the UserBenefit entirely or to supplement it with an additional, more powerful UserBenefit.

Low social relevance

A UserBenefit that has individual relevance but little social relevance can be helpful, but does little to spread the word about the social media offering. This means that users who are attracted by the benefits of a social media offer will not actively spread this offer if it is irrelevant to their social environment. In this case, the growth of supply would suffer from this behavior. Supplementing the user benefit with another, more socially relevant one is a possible solution.

Missing or weak user benefit

Social media strategies without – for the social media user immediately – recognizable user benefits are less rare than would be desirable. If it is not a case of negligent omission but of a user benefit that cannot actually be realized, the company is left as a last resort with the pressure of communication to achieve the necessary attention for its strategy and the participation of the users. If the user benefit doesn’t speak for itself out loud, then communication has to do it. However, if many speak particularly loudly, this does not promote the success of the individual – especially if there is a recognizable lack of user benefit. It only increases the communicative noise level.

Busy UserBenefit

Attractive user benefits are often already occupied by other providers. In this case, we have the alternatives of either having to find another – no less attractive – UserBenefit, or taking possession of this UserBenefit for our own strategy. To put it bluntly, in a competition for attention in a digital environment with a high level of communication, third place may be one of the “winners’ podium” but it is also the de facto mark of the first loser.

Whether we can “conquer” a user benefit for our own strategy depends not least on the competitive situation, but also on our own strategic and tactical capabilities. Such a challenge is not easy to master. Using the same procedures and methods as the competition is more likely to lead to a “material battle” that ultimately produces only losers than to success. Creativity and strategic competence are more reliable paths to success here.

Heterogeneous possible UserBenefits

If the one superior UserBenefit is missing, but several heterogeneous UserBenefits are usable instead, we are faced with the decision to act with heterogeneous UserBenefits or to focus on the UserBenefit that represents the best alternative in effect and reach.

Sources of user benefit

We derive the user benefits in particular from

  • We use them to address the interests, inclinations, preferences and behavior of our target groups.
  • The focus is on the areas ofour business model and our corporate goals in which we create user benefits.

Practical significance of the user benefit

In addition to the strategic importance of the strategy component in strategy development, the user benefit has the same importance for day-to-day work in social media. It should serve us as an aid and yardstick in our daily work by checking all activities for their user benefits – in accordance with the user benefits defined in the strategy. Let’s not underestimate the danger of slipping into a more or less pronounced arbitrariness with our social media activities by primarily orienting ourselves to daily news. This comes at the expense of the effectiveness of our strategy and social media success. The following tips should be considered when developing the user value of your social media strategy:

  • the UserBenefit can vary from topic to topic or even differ fundamentally. This is not least due to the fact that user benefits stand in the context of the respective subject area. This can lead to working with more than one user benefit. This enables us to offer a more attractive range of products and services and – temporarily – set ourselves apart from the competition.
  • In a topic that is about a service, a UserBenefit may be different than in a topic that is about a need, want, or problem.
  • we can use different UserPurposes in parallel if necessary.
  • Different competitors may deploy different UserBenefits, especially if their desired business Benefit differs and they position their UserBenefit close to the business Benefit.
  • UserBenefit can include a social compente in which the benefit can be shared with other users or the benefit can increase through other users. Socially based user benefits can establish a network effect or be used to spread and strengthen relationships.

Requirements for user benefits in a social media strategy

The basic requirements: the user benefit of our social media strategy must be

  • correspond to the interests, values and goals of the target groups we want to reach with the strategy.
  • be located in the subject areas in which our social media strategy becomes active.
  • be feasible for the company. The feasibility concerns both the economic feasibility and the technical implementation of the user benefits.

The user benefit does not necessarily have to be linked to the company’s services, although this is of course particularly helpful.

UserBenefit with social component

UserBenefits with a social component / high social media affinity are more valuable for a social media strategy than UserBenefits without a social component or with little or no social media affinity. For example, if the UserBenefit has a direct effect on or in a user’s personal social network, the UserBenefit inevitably contributes more to the dissemination of the strategy or its reach than a UserBenefit without this characteristic. Therefore, when developing the user benefits of our social media strategy, we should not lose sight of its possible social component.

User benefits and target group interests

It is recommended to check the desired or existing / used user benefit for its relevance to the target groups of the social media strategy. Through the user benefit, we not only influence the competitiveness of the strategy compared to other providers, we also define the relevance and thus the scope of the potential success of our strategy. A user benefit that does not address all target groups of our social media strategy does not lead to a success of the strategy in all target groups. You may consider this a truism, but you should also make sure that the user benefit of your strategy meets these requirements.


UserBenefit is inevitably an indispensable component of a social media strategy because of its importance to its success. To ensure that this is actually the case, we use UserBenefit as a fixed strategy component with the same name in the potential-based strategy model.

We therefore work in strategy development with a strategy component UserBenefit. For the sake of simplicity, we define the application – i.e., the definition of the user benefit, its implementation, the interactions with other strategy components, and the individual measures and goals – in the strategy component UserBenefit.

We therefore work in strategy development with action options UserBenefit and a strategy component UserBenefit.

  • In the UserBenefit strategy component, we record the UserBenefit that we use in our final strategy or a draft strategy. The strategy component UserBenefits also contains information on the implementation of the UserBenefits, the interactions with other strategy components and the individual measures and goals, as well as information on the required resources. The strategy component UserBenefit thus documents the result for the UserBenefit of our strategy.
  • Using the UserBenefits action options, we work out the various UserBenefits that are advisable in our situation with their competitive situation. In the options for action, we develop the starting point for the draft strategies. The options for action for the user benefit thus describe the starting point for strategy development at the user benefit level.

Search and rating of UserBenefits

The application – the derivation of UserBenefits and their evaluation is described in the section Action Options UserBenefits.

Exercises own company

Dealing with your company's social media strategy is doubly useful as an exercise. You will see how far you have become familiar with the respective topic and you will recognize how far the existing social media strategy meets the requirements for a convincing user benefit. To do this, carry out the following exercise steps

Define the UserBenefit(s) of your organization's existing social media strategy.
Define the type of UserBenefit being used.
Record which target groups and target group interests this UserBenefit corresponds to and what relevance it has for the individual target groups.
Check the content / communication and offers of your strategy to see whether the UserBenefit of the strategy is recognizable at all times - by a user without insider knowledge.
Check whether the UserBenefit has a social component.

Define alternative UserBenefits for your company's social media strategy.

UserBenefit competition

Perform the steps described above for your company's most important competitor(s).