2.0.0 Social media for business – 2

The topic Social Media for Business provides an initial overview of the potential of social media for businesses.

Reading time lection. app. 26 minutes The learning unit has no exercises. After that, you can move on to the next session.

The learning objective is to

  • Provide the social media performance potential for businesses as one of the foundations of social media strategy development.
  • Learn about the use of social media for business objectives.
  • Get an initial overview of social media usage formats.
  • Getting started in identifying and understanding competitive positions.
  • Identify and understand the business benefits from social media.

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

The individual social media usage formats and their application will be presented to you more comprehensively in the respective topics. There you will also find the corresponding exercises.

Basics of social media for business

Using social media for business

Using social media for business is based on using social media – not social media marketing. Social Media is practised in different using formats with different capacities. In pbsm wie name the different formats of using social media as social media usage formats.

Depending on the benefit a company wants to create in social medie and the usage format it will use different requirements for contents and structures of a social media strategy emerge.

Social Media for Business: Social Media Usage Formats

“Usage formats describes the methods a company uses oder want to use social Media.”

Using Social Media requests the participation of the company as a part of social media and fullfilling therefor the requests of social media. This will happen through the companys social media presence – in its own social media platform or in an external one liege Youtube, Facebook or Instagram.

Social media usage formats are defined formats of using social media that contains individual capacity and requirements on ressources.

Social Media Usage Formats

The individual social media usage formats are described in their individual topics.

The usage formats deployment in strategy development is explained in the course modul social media performance potential. Usage formats can be used in pureform or in combinations. An audience could contain elements of a community and a community could also contain elements of an audience. The individual way of using social media und social media usage formats is a result of the objectives the company likes to implement in social media and the therfor neccessary performance potential.

Employing ads in social media doesn’t mean participation in social media. It its using social media als a advertising platform.

The most important benefits of social media usage formats for strategy development
  • Usage formats are one of the foundations of strategy develpment in potential based strategy model. They give social media performance potential clear, applicable structures and make it easier to understand the performance potential of existing social media strategies and platforms.
  • Usage formats tells us the possible effect in market and competition we could result.
  • The suitabilty of social media channels for the individual social media usage formats determine the effect and results we could achieve in the individual social media channel generally. Therefore we can easily see if a certain platform ist suitable to provide the effect wie want to create through social media.
  • Usage formats makes it easier and faster to understand the demands of a choosen social media use and its request for ressources and know how.
  • Usage formats enable us to understand easy and fast the impacts of certain ways of using social media to individual strategie components easier and faster.
  • Usage formats make it easier to understand the effects of social media on business models and their components.
The importance of Socia Media Usage Formats

Classyfiing makes social media strategy development easier. Usage formats facilitate the development of social media strategies focussing on market and competition situation. The market effects of our own social media strategy as the strategies of our competition ist easier and faster to understand.

Social media usage formats are therefore a very practical tool that makes it easier to develop more powerful and competitive social media offerings and build on them to generate competitive advantages through social media. Working with this tool increases your own professional competence and the quality of your social media offerings.

Assessment of social media usage formats

We assess the suitability / use of the social media usage formats according to the following criteria

  • Market requirement
  • Market impact
  • Company benefits
  • Competitive effect
  • Resource requirements

Market requirements: Not every usage format is suitable for every market situation. The market requirements of the individual usage formats are discussed in the respective usage formats.

Market impact: We define market impact as the ability to activate the market to one’s own advantage and distinguish between the following levels in order to have a better comparison between alternatives.

  • No structural market activation: –
  • low structural market activation: +
  • market-influencing market activation, but which can be exceeded structurally: + +
  • Market activation that cannot be surpassed structurally by other usage formats: + +.

Company benefit: the benefit(s) from social media for the company that is possible through this specific usage format.

  • In the case of an audience, for example, this is the reach and the associated possibility of disseminating information/content and thus influencing attitudes and views or generating interested parties.
  • In the case of a community, for example, the benefit is bonding and exchange between users, which can strengthen customer loyalty and lead to user engagement. Or also generates interested users.

Competitive impact: We measure competitive performance by the competitive advantages that can be achieved through the respective usage format.

  • no structural competitiv advantages strukturelle Wettbewerbsvorteile: –
  • Competitive advantages based on the inactivity of competition +
  • Structural competitive advantages that can be surpassed by other formats. ++
  • Structural competitive advantages, that cannot be surpassed by other formats +++

Resource requirements: An organization’s individual resource and customization requirements for a usage format helps in evaluating and deciding on the use of usage formats. In this context, the resources criterion should not be used before the market effect and the competitive effect. The resources criterion should be understood “merely” to check the feasibility or the demands for realization. If we prioritize resources higher, we risk our own competitiveness in social media.

  • low requirements on companys ressources No structural changes (staff / skills): –
  • additional structural requirements in companys ressources: +
  • The company is faceing greater adjustments (statt, organization, skills) ++
  • The company is entering new territory with extensive implications for competence and resource requirements and structures: + + +.
Advertising as social media usageformat?

Social is widely used for advertising. Is advertising therefore also a usage format of social media? One can be divided about that.

I don’t see advertising as a social media usage format because it doesn’t allow companies to become part of social media, and it doesn’t allow them to tap into the special performance potential of social media – especially market activation and building structural competitive advantages – that makes social media so special for companies. With advertising the company – and this kind of social media using – stays a foreigner.

Further justification: Advertising is used as an external element in social media and is understood as such by the social media user. In terms of content, it is thus comparable to an advertisement in a magazine or a commercial that interrupts an entertainment program. These forms of marketing communication are also not understood as part of the editorial content. Advertising is thus not a component of social media, even if this advertising is oriented to social media in terms of content and appearance and uses the reach and information quality / targeting of social media.

Social media usage formats and social media platforms

In practice, we work predominantly with external social media platforms, which are structured very differently in terms of their performance capabilities and can also differ significantly in the services they provide to companies from those they provide to social media users. The latter results from the business model and the resulting economic goals of the platform operators. Below is a brief overview of the most important platform types and the social media usage formats they primarily contain.

Social media usage formats in the major platform types

Please note that different social media usage formats are used in the platforms and that only the determining core format is listed here.

Usage formats and social media performance potential for companies / corporate benefits.

This decision as to which usage formats the company should use depends on

  • the goals of the social media strategy and here the desired corporate benefit.
  • the usage formats available in the specific case, i.e., the usage formats suitable for the topics and subject areas.
  • the competitive situation, i.e. the usage formats used by the competition.

With the help of defined usage formats, it is easier for us to assess the possibilities of social media in a market as well as the effect of the alternatives and options available in the specific case, and thus ultimately to use social media more successfully. Here is a practical approach to this decision: A practical approach für this decision:

  1. Get to know the respective usage formats, their prerequisites in the market and their performance capabilities.
  2. Check which usage formats are realizable in your specific market(s)
  3. Check the competitive situation in the specific usage formats.
  4. Check how far which usable format best fits your objectives (business goals) and strategic orientation (offensive, defensive).

From these findings, you decide on your usage format(s).

Competition quality of social media usage formats

Social Media could be used in different usage formats. Which usage formats are suitable depends not least on the market, so it is not entirely up to us to decide. However, we should be careful to use the most powerful possible usage format if we do not want to compete with a fundamentally less competitive social media offering.

Social Media usage formats differs in their competitive quality. There are usage formats that activate users, thereby achieving greater impact, supporting the dissemination of content and ensuring a higher level of information about users and needs, and there are usage formats that do not achieve this.

Depending on the usage formats different structural competitive advantages or disadvantages are possible. Usage formats are covered as a whole in the Social Media Performance Potential module. After working through the individual modules of social media usage formats, you will know their competitive quality and be able to use them accordingly in strategy development.

For the practical design of the competition, it is important that we know which social media usage formats are possible in our markets. With a more powerful social media usage format, we may already be able to establish an initial temporary or permanent competitive advantage. This means that the social media affinity of the market – you have acquired the know-how for this in the Social Media Affinity module – and the competitive situation result in a preliminary decision that is essential for the success of the social media strategy and the use of social media.

Insight for strategy development
  • We shouldn’t usa a less competitive usage format as the competition.
  • If a more powerful usage format is possible than that of the competition, we can build up competitive advantages over these competitors via the usage format.

Social media impact formats

The topic Social Media Impact Formats deals with the formats we use to achieve impact in social media and their application in the potential-based strategy model for social media.

Definition social media impact

Social media impact formats is an umbrella term that encompasses the various methods of achieving a desired impact in social media.

Methods of social media impact
  • Information: The company uses its own and other content to achieve a desired impact within social media – on its own channels and beyond. Information could be integrated in audiences and communiies. Users provide information about their status, experiences, etc. Companies can gain insights about their markets in general or about users in particular from the use of information or the reaction to information.
  • Communication: Communication with social media users is used to achieve the desired effect in direct, individual exchange. Network and community are suitable usage formats. The communication between social media users can be supported / enabled in own platforms to achieve a desired effect this way. Communication can be used both real-time and time-shifted.
  • Social context: Social context stands for the influence of social relationships on the behavior and attitudes of social media users. By social context in the narrower sense, we mean the influences from the social environment via social media on the attitudes, evaluations, and behavior of a social media user, as well as the influence on the social environment of social media users. One example of the effect of social context is influencing social media users through the experiences and recommendations of other social media users. Another example of this effect is influencing other social media users through one’s own activity, such as the aforementioned sharing of experiences. Partizipation plays a key role at social context. Do I share expierence and recommandatins, I participate.

Influencing by the experience of others takes place when we do not have sufficient expertise or information of our own for a particular topic. Dann greifen wir gerne auf die Kompetenz und die Erfahrungen anderer User zurück. This is a behavior that has been ingrained in us for thousands of years.

Social media has given this learned behavior greater impact through the greater reach of individuals and the availability of greater reach through social media users. Social media users can therefore draw not only on the experience of their immediate social environment, but also on the experience of thousands of other social media users. At the same time, the experience of the individual (social media user) is potentially open to a much larger number of other social media users.

Prerequisite to social media impact is

  • the activity of the individual (social media user) in which he provides his experiences and recommendations or retrieves those of others.
  • the visibility of recommendations from other social media users.

The better the user can recognize the quality of the recommendation and the more relevant this recommendation is for the individual user, the higher the effect of this recommendation. and vice versa.

If this behavior takes place as an integral part of social media without the influence of companies, it offers companies an efficient form of market influence.


Shared activities, shared exchanges, and shared content are typical examples of participation in a personal social network.

Different effects stem from the participation of social media users. On the one hand, participation increases activity and thus also the attractiveness of the social media offering for other social media users. Therefor participation is a kind of recommendation. Whether this is a positive recommendation or a negative one depends on the type of participation. In addition, participation also has a competitive dimension, so it can have an impact in competition. The more social media users participate on an offer/channel, the less time and commitment remains for other offers, especially for the offers of direct competitors (performance competitors and topic competitors). Participation thus ensures reach activity, the attractiveness of social media offerings, and enables competitive advantages.

User benefit

The user benefit of social networks lies in the network itself, in the self-expression, the communication and the role that the user plays in his network within and with the help of social media. The user benefit of a personal social network in social media also lies in its expandability and the greater reach and awareness this brings for the user.

For the social media performance potential for companies, the user benefit is of central importance, which we can summarize in one statement:

User benefit is a prerequisite for company benefit. 

Without a convincing and motivating user benefit, we do not achieve the necessary impact in social media to achieve a desired corporate benefit.


Motivation drives social media users. Successful motivation to be active increases activity and active social media offers are more attractive to users than less active ones. Motivation could be resolved in different ways. . What it has in common is that it should always be relevant to the recipient in order to have an impact. In the practical application we distinguish once about the classical methods of motivation

and especially in social media about the sources of motivation

  • automated: motivation is realized through automated processes.
  • individual: motivation is realized by individuals.
  • system-based: the motivation is generated by software, the award is decided by an operator, a system.
  • user generated: motivation is created by other social media users.

Examples from practise

  • When a social media user likes another user’s post, it is an individual, user-generated form of motivation.
  • If a social media user automatically receives a certain status after a certain number of own posts on a topic / area, this is an automated, system-based form of motivation.
  • If the user receives his award only after a certain number of other users have awarded his contributions with a defined recognition (rating), this is an automated, system-based and user-generated motivation.
network effect

As network effect we name a benefit that grows with the number of users. For example, the more people who use a particular social media offering, the greater the benefit for the individual user. The network effect is typical for social network platforms, but also for communities. It does not have a comparable effect on audiences. The network effect is interrelated with the user benefit. If the user benefit increases with the number of users using a social media offering, we have a network effect.

Significance of social media impact formats

Because social media impact formats are the methods we use to create impact in social media, they are central to our social media strategy and daily social media work.

Social media impact in the pbsm

Information, user benefits, motivation and participation are content that we can shape and are correspondingly strategic components of the pbsm. Social context and network effect are not a strategy component, as we cannot design social context or a network effect as part of our social media strategy. Of course, an existing network effect impacts our social media use, as does the social context.

At pbsm, we use the social media effect for strategy development and for analyzing markets – here, in particular, for the social media affinity of topics.

Social media impact through social context.

The basics of social media impact through social context are covered under Fundamentals. Here we look at the design options available to companies to use the social context to their own advantage. Mind you – with the serious design options, because less serious approaches are not recommended in the long run.

The social media effect via the social context lives from the willingness to become active, for example, to let others share one’s own experiences, knowledge and competence. This Acceptance can be from the companies:

  • UserBenefits from this behavior (the sharing of own experiences and own competence) e.g. in the form of recognition through feedback or status by the company we the social media users are strengthened. This support has a competitive effect at the same time. If social media users reap significantly more recognition and status for their knowledge and expertise in one platform/channel than in others, the willingness to prefer this platform/channel grows. This will also make this platform/channel more attractive to users who are interested in the experiences of others.
  • Shaping and securing the reach of social media users’ experiences, contributing to the reach and relevance of the social media user who posts experiences. If a company invests more successfully in creating reach for social media users’ experiences with its services, this is a competitive advantage that can have a permanent impact. If social media users are looking for experiences with certain services or the solution to problems, and if the company’s platform/channel with corresponding experiences is primarily displayed here, this causes a clear competitive advantage in favor of customer acquisition, but also customer retention, such as gaining insights into the needs of users and the evaluation of services. The reach of the experience can be supported with both a seaworthy design, as well as networking/connecting the experience to social media platforms and social media profiles as well as corporate platforms.
  • Ergonomics is a key factor in the willingness to share experiences with others. This includes both the technical simplicity of making this experience available and the simplicity with which this contribution is visible and attributable to the individual. Thus, a post with experiences is clearly different for the user if it can establish a directly usable reference to the user – for example, in the form of a link to the user profile in social media – than if the author of the experiences is not recognizable. For the user who posted the experience, it can also be a big – positive – difference if he is recognizable as the author. Creating this connection in an ergonomic and automated way contributes to the impact of the platform like the individual experience / contribution.
Social media impact through motivation

For powerful forms of motivation is

  • knowledge of the target groups and their needs and wishes is an important prerequisite. The effect of our motivation depends essentially on the fact that it corresponds to the wishes and characteristics of our target groups.
  • the design of processes in the platform is a prerequisite. This means that we can either operate in our own platform or integrate corresponding elements into a third-party platform.

Only when both conditions are met can we develop an effective method of motivation that is suitable for our purposes.

So for practical implementation, we first start with the interests and preferences of our target groups and look there for motivation that we can use for our social media offering. For this purpose, we develop a list of suitable motivational approaches on an intrinsic as well as on an extrinsic level and examine to what extent these motivational approaches are

  • correspond to the interests of our target group.
  • can be used for the interests of our company.

When asking about the company’s interests, we not only consider direct interests from marketing and sales but also interests from social media such as building and activating reach in social media, but also disseminating content or promoting participation.

If, after these two steps, we have found suitable motivational approaches for our social media offering, we examine how to design these motivational approaches – as a

  • systembased motivation
  • individual motivation
  • user generated motivation
  • Combination of several motivation methods

If we have also taken this step, we now have a suitable motivation method, consisting of the content and topics we use for motivation and clear guidelines for the type of motivation.

Next, there is the question of the technical implementation of motivation. Here, many good approaches fail because the chosen platforms do not offer the appropriate design options for motivation and motivation is therefore dispensed with. Before we also give up motivation and thus a success factor in a comparable situation, we should check whether we cannot solve the form of motivation via complementary channels. If our chosen social media channel offers neither good opportunities for motivation nor participation, but we can build up greater success in the market and a competitive advantage via social media with both, it makes great sense in my opinion to examine the possibility of dividing tasks between the channels used in order to, for example

  • an intensively used external social media offering (such as Facebook)
  • with its own social media offering with high user benefit, sophisticated motivation methodology and meaningful participation opportunities

to combine. However, this requires more design expertise in social media than simply using predetermined external social media channels.

Social media impact through participation

The design of participation opportunities – like the use of motivational systems – requires design access to the respective platforms and channels. Either these are proprietary platforms and channels or channels that enable the integration of functions. Unfortunately, external platforms without design options often do not offer attractive participation opportunities that take the interests of the company into account. In cases where companies rely on external platforms to build reach and where no suitable participation offerings can be integrated into the platform, there is still the option of using the external platform as a feeder for a more suitable platform. So building a reach on the external platform, but using it leads to the platform that is more suitable for the company. For users to take this additional step – from a pond-wide platform to a participation platform – there needs to be a convincing user benefit from participation.

Participation that only serves the interests of the company but does not correspond to the interests of the social media users faces a very questionable success. In your considerations, always make sure to start from the user’s interests first when developing participation offerings and to make participation and user benefits a compatible and mutually supportive element. In other words – without a user benefit from participation, there will be no significant user participation.

We develop approaches for the development of participation opportunities analogous to the procedure for the development of motivational approaches. We focus on the interests and wishes of the users and look for opportunities there to contribute to a successful experience for the users with the help of participation possibilities. Once we have found suitable interests and desires for this and have derived possible success experiences from them, we examine the social quality of the success experiences. True to the motto that joy shared is joy doubled, we check whether and how we can give our participation opportunities and the resulting sense of achievement a social quality, i.e. make them shareable and as permanently recognizable as possible for the users’ social networks.

A small example helps to illustrate the differences in the design and impact of participation opportunities.

The classic social media marketing track: A company sells motorhomes and asks users networked with the company – mostly customers – to send in their favorite pictures from their vacation. Prizes will be awarded to the best entries.

A little more motivation and social media: The company leaves the selection of the best images to the users and facilitates the dissemination of the uploaded images to the social networks with the request to vote for these images directly when uploading. This spreads the action and taps into the social networks of connected social media users. The action gets a different reach and also meaning for the participating users, because they can get recognition for their uploaded pictures from their circle of friends.

From action in social media to more social media: The company combines the action with the creation of simple profiles and a motivation system – to vote on the images – and leads the action into a permanent structure. Users can upload pictures permanently and you can subscribe to other users’ pictures. If possible in the stream of your own social network profile.

On the way to becoming a social media champion: The company uses a tagging system to make content lockable in an automated way. Users tag their images and commonalities become visible, which can be used to compile images into collections that have increased entertainment value (activity) and through which users with the same tags can be brought together and networked – this ensures user activity and networking. Communication, information and subscription functions and the connection to external social network platforms create a social media offering that is permanent and permanently effective – in the form of a community with corresponding community management.

Social Media Champion plus: We have most recently built and kept active a community of RV fans of our company in the previous variants. Now we could take a further step and open up this community – focused on our own motorhomes – to motorhome fans from other providers, potential WoMoFans, newcomers and those returning. With supplemented profiles that serve the social media users’ own preferences and through which users can connect even further. This provides us with an important source of information on concrete needs, such as experiences and wishes – both from our own range of products and from the competition. And we have established direct access to the market potential of our competitors. The longer and more intensively we can do this undisturbed, the stronger we bind WoMo users, including those of our competitors, to our platform. It goes without saying that this must be designed accordingly conceptually, communicatively and functionally. And also not quite trivial.

Social media impact through network effects

Network effects are very effective elements in social media. For example, they enable enormous and rapid growth of social media offerings. Now when you think about videos going “viral” it’s something similar to a network effect. This phenomenon is based on the existence of networks that enable the rapid dissemination of content through referrals. The network effect ensures that a user benefit grows with the number of users who use the network. The more users, the greater the user benefit.

Practical example: the social network platforms (such as Facebook) showed very clearly, based on their growth, how the network effect works. If leading persons of a social network (circle of friends) have decided on a certain platform and are also active there, step by step they pull those users with them who are oriented towards these persons. Thus, step by step, more or less the entire circle of friends migrates to this platform.

Previously used platforms become inactive and disappear. The network effect goes both ways.

Unless they operate a successful social network platform, companies cannot create a direct network effect themselves. Their impact in social media is nevertheless dependent on the quality of the social network platform and its network effect. If the network effect of the social network platform becomes negative, the reach of the company(s) in this platform will also be jeopardized. What companies can do to benefit from network effects is to link their social media offerings to the users’ social networks, i.e., to connect the posting of a content in the company’s social media offering with a post in the user’s social network. However, this requires the suitability of the content in the company offer for the circle of friends, so it is not automatically given. The company’s content strategy – including user-generated content – must be appropriately “social” – suitable for the circles of friends and connected with a user benefit for the circle of friends. Challenging but not impossible.

Furthermore, a systematic expansion of the social network – on the external platform such as Facebook – or on the company’s own community platform can be developed from the content of users of the company’s social media offering with the social networks.

Social Media impact and social media usage formats.

Social media effect in social networks: In social networks, we are dealing with information, communication, participation, motivation, user benefits, a social context and a network effect.

Social media impact in audiences: primarly audiences produce their impact with information. User benefit of an audience is information. With information via Audience, we reach the recipient who has subscribed to the news source. An impact that goes beyond this can be created by recommending content to others. Participation in Audiences takes place primarily via the classic functions of liking, commenting and sharing. User generated content would be a form of participation in an audience that goes beyond this level. Therefore audiences must be opened to user generated content. Network effects are rarely possible in audiences.

Social media impact in communities: Communities have an impact through participation, communication, information, their social context, and contribute to motivation themselves (provided these functions are sufficiently taken into account). network effects are possible for communities.

key learning

  • You can’t be successful in social media without knowing and using the performance potential of social media für business.
  • the knowledge of the social media use formats is fundamental for the understanding of the performance potential of social media für business.