A Data Model for Social Media

Over the past many months I've been helping a non-profit, Emory Center for Injury Control, create a social media strategy. (Shout out to Change Challenge organizers Jake Aull and Sherry Heyl!)

You wouldn't believe how many person hours have gone in to this effort. Granted, none of us started out as social media experts, but all of us are early adaptors and obviously enthusiastically embrace social media. (Personally, I'm not a fan of all the noise on facebook. One of my favorite quotes is "Facebook is people *you know but want to avoid*. Twitter is people *you don't know but want to meet*.")

A variety of factors contributed to slowing us down, but those details would bore you. What I'm excited about is that I think I can transfer our knowledge to you in a couple easy pictures.

Here is the first:

If you're a developer or BA, you'll recognize that as a data model (actually it's a class diagram...) I can't believe I didn't think of model the problem with tools and techniques I use everyday, but the idea just struck me when I woke up this morning.

A key obstacal to leveraging social media is defining what you want to say. In the model above, this is represented by campaigns. For example, ECIC wants to promote an upcoming meet and greet. To do that they need supporting activities, like tweeting, posting a blog or creating a meetup.

Where those activities take place is called a channel.

WTF? What is so hard about that?

Nothing, if you know the context. The challenge we had was that we started with channel and couldn't figure out what to say. If you start with campaigns, channels come naturally. I’m all for starting with the end in mind, but it’s still the end NOT the beginning!

The second thing we tried was starting with personas. But getting from personas to twitter isn't easy if you don't know that the steps to get there. I'll explain how that works in my next post. But here is a preview of the data model for that.