Social Media Marketing Storyboard #2: The Social Reef, an Industry Perspective

The last time I did a storyboard, it received positive reviews, so I’ve decided to do it again.  Often, I have a hard time describing to others what I do for a living –just exactly how do you explain to your parents that you’re an industry analyst for the social web?  As a result, I’ve created this slidedeck that goes well with my fishing theme on what I see as an industry analyst.

This is likely the fastest moving industry in the world –for the last few years, I work many hours during the weekdays and a few during the weekends to keep up.  While in it’s formative years now, I expect –and hope– it’ll slow down as it reaches maturity over the next few years. 

I really see this space like a reef, a complex ecosystem that has so many variables and changes, each day is different.

I hope you enjoy this storyboard, and if you did, please tweet it, or embed it on your own blog.

68 Replies to “Social Media Marketing Storyboard #2: The Social Reef, an Industry Perspective”

  1. Great Storyboard, Jeremiah. I think there is one minor issue, however. You seem to say social networks twice in the second bullet on page 21. I believe the second social networks should read community platforms. Looks great!

  2. To echo Eric’s sentiments, I really enjoyed the storyboard Jeremiah. It’s clear that you put a lot of thought and invest a lot of time in your under water ecosystem.

    I love that you keep stressing that because of these recessionary times this is a very crowded, ever-changing space. Most of us don’t tell you often enough, but you a do a great job being on the pulse of the industry when we don’t have time.

    Reading your blog (and others) helps all of us learn more so that we can stay ahead of the curve. Like you, I work in this space and like you I work long hours and some during the weekends. Sometimes for my sanity I hope it slows down, but to keep innovating and not get lost in the shuffle it’s imperative that we stay plugged in during these tumultuous times.

    Not only did you help people understand your role better, but I think you did a good job conveying that key point as well.

    Thanks Jeremiah!

  3. Jeremiah – Nice presentation. On slide #5 I think you meant to say “they” instead of “the” on bullet #2. I think you should also include Microsoft under the CMS players. We have successfully implemented MOSS, Commerce Server, SQL Server and BizTalk and we like the path they are on. You could also include Newell Rubbermaid on slide #7…but I realize you have to set your limits 🙂

    Thanks for sharing, I may borrow for internal audiences.


  4. Bert

    I corrected slide 5, give it a few seconds.

    Thanks for the suggestion on MS, but I’m not going to add any vendors, or brands, even as cool as Newell Rubbermaid, that’s a slippery slope that’ll never end.

    The whole reef, shrimp and all, is welcome to chime in the comments.

    I wonder what the VCs and A-listers will say…

  5. WOW! I am nearly speechless. But if I was totally speechless, I wouldn’t be leaving a comment. Excellent storyboard, Jeremiah, and GREAT analogy. Thank you for sharing your insight. You must have ESP… I have thought what you wrote many times but never knew how to put into words. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  6. Jeremiah,
    Yes I am German so please don’t mind my “correctness” 🙂 I enjoyed your idea very much. Only the last slide seem not fitting. When you are a marine biologist your would certainly not fish? But research the oceans & help the oceans & raise alarm if environmental pollution is endangering the see?


  7. Annette

    Even marine biologists need to eat. 😉

    Actually, that last slide is legacy from my previous deck “Fish where the fish are” I didn’t give it a think to change it.

  8. Donna, it’s amazing what imagery can do to help tell a story isn’t it? This is still a new craft for me, I’m still learning.

    This is actually a very left brained activity (story telling), often a bit different than the right brained activity of research and analysis.

  9. I like what it says about SM and will write about it and use it, I’m sure. It’s very cool visually, I do find that an issue with using a large metaphor like the ocean has a limitation to one who is not very familiar with the subject being compared.

    I seem to know very little about the ocean, so I found I was learning more about the ocean from social media than I was learning about social media from the ocean. I do like the ecosystem idea very much, though.

  10. You tweeted that you’re looking for something in the reef that can represent consultants and agencies. My first thought, though like Dan Perlman I don’t know much about reefs, would be starfish.

    There are many varieties of starfish, just like there are many types of consultancies and agencies looking to serve companies as social media strategists, or as my firm does, conversation marketing strategists.

    They have a protective skeleton, but don’t use it to move, instead moving by a hydraulic water vascular system that aids in locomotion. Agencies and consultants are not usually dependent on just one client, but rather move and grow their business by taking on new clients and maybe even taking on new industries.

    Starfish are usually hunters able to hunt prey that is much larger than its mouth would seem to allow. Agencies and consultants can usually take on clients who are much larger in size than the agency or a one-person consultant.

    They are able to regenerate lost arms, just as an agency might bring in new staff or start new departments/niche offerings/verticals.

  11. wow, i’m pretty sure i understand LESS about both reefs, and social media than i did before.

  12. I have a building set of analogies for agencies/consultants based Finding Nemo that I can’t displace thanks to my five year old son and his emerging fascination with the film.

    Best take, fish are friends, not food. For too long the agency world has viewed the target audience as something simply to catch vs. something to embrace, empower and learn from.

  13. Patrick

    That comment hasn’t met my guidelines and the pollution has been unapproved. I certainly don’t mind anyone who disagrees, but being 1) anonymous, 2) unsavory, sadly gets the filter.

  14. Jeremiah, what better way to describe the evolution of the Web and the emergence of the Social Web, with all its poignancy and still unpredictable potential, than with a story that is allegorical and metaphorical, and told by one of its early adopters — you.

    Just for the sake of another perspective, mine, as a *recent* adopter of the space, what do you think of the following:

    First, the context, which is the Ocean itself, and the Ocean being the metaphor for the Web, the Internet, the entire online realm.

    Next of course, are the Fish who are the Consumers, but along this context, these are the Consumers who are on the Web, who “surf” and “search” the Web for destinations and communities. The Fish then are the Consumers, the traffic on the internet that is the Ocean.

    For me, the Fisherman, ah yes, the Fisherman. They are not so much brands, but more Brand Marketers and Producers who use tools and strategies (e.g., fishing poles, nets, …) to prospect and acquire consumer traffic (the Fish). Fishermen want to “capture” internet traffic and convert them into visitors on and inhabitants in their their branded destinations and communities.

    The Kelp Forests, then, are the branded destinations and communities on the web (remember, the Ocean) that offer the rich and verdant brands and the branded experiences that all of us seek to fulfill our lives on a daily basis. In the context of our story, it’s the Corals in the Kelp Forests that for me are the Brands and Branded community experiences sought by the Fish and marketed by the Fisherman.

    Because Corals have an individualistic and thoroughly personalized beauty about them, and because each Kelp Forest “produces” in nature its own “branded versions” of Corals, I think it’s perfect to view Corals as the Brands and Branded community experiences sought by the Fish and marketed by the Fisherman.

    The backbone of the internet is CMS. And in this story the backbone of the Ocean is its floor, its foundation…the back-end that support its waters — CMS.

    Not to linger much further on this comment, I had one last interesting tid-bit…Consultants. These creatures (pardon the description, 😉 are unique in that they are: highly skilled, articulate, and persuasive in presentation; relate very well to both the Fisherman (Marketers, Clients) and the Fish (Consumers, Clients); and are finely tuned to the inhabitants of the space. For me…Dolphins!

    Let me know what you think, thanks for the opportunity, nice job!

  15. Juan this is great.

    I’m mulling this over, and I think that Dolphins and Starfish both have their merits.

    It’s interesting that folks that understand marine ecosystems could get the comparison, but those that didn’t couldn’t relate. As someone who grew up somewhat close to the coast and aquariums, I likely took that for granted.

  16. I’ve updated the storyboard, added the agencies/consultants as starfish and credited Christine Fife, also I changed my last slide to say “swim with me” rather than “fish with me” as suggested by Annette.

  17. Jeremiah, thanks for your reply to my take on your innovative approach to telling the story of the evolution of the the Web and emergence of The Social Web. You remarked as a point of personal interest how some people Got It while others didn’t Get It. I think those who didn’t get it don’t see that the Social Web is as much about the new web 2.0 ways to create and collaborate as it is all about man’s sociology for seeking belonging and bonding in the new social media age. So really, therefore, the Ocean as metaphor for the richness of the Web, the Kelp Forests allegories for the verdant Social Networked destinations, and the uniquely differentiated products in nature of Corals that reside in these communities as representations of the Brands and Branded Experiences the Fish seek and Fishermen market and promote through use of their tools of the trade…all work beautifully. But to Get This, one has to Get It: that Social Media, at it’s soul, is man’s sociological yearning for collaboration, connection, and community in the web2.0+ age.
    I’m running long again, but let me know what you think, and I have a great ideas…

  18. Thank you Jeremiah. I will be sharing your great presentation with other students in my study group (MSc Marketing). Lea

  19. Very funny and informative. How about adding a glass bottom boat for your Mum and Dad to sit in… that is if they don’t participate in social media or if they just like reading your stuff.

    Thank you for including Dow Jones Insight… just never thought of ourselves as a jelly fish. Ouch.

  20. Jeremiah —

    At first reading I didn’t really get excited about the presentation and I didn’t really get it. But then I watch it again from the perspective from someone who is trying to sell something (the fisherman) and it made more sense.

    I didn’t really get why Facebook was a Challenger, but then I see that you are speaking in terms of marketing, I think, Facebook can be a tough place to operate. I still don’t know if I fully understand the blowfish analogy for A-Listers, but I will assume you are correct. 🙂

    Insightful in ways. Thanks.

  21. Excellent storyboard. Your posts always give insight into this space that is nearly impossible to keep up with. Giving normal labels to the quirky elements of Social Networking makes things easier to explain (and understand).

  22. Staying with the reef theme. Much like fish find safe area’s in the reef, Social Media companies need to find their safe niche and not just survive, but thrive.



  23. Love this storyboard Jeremiah! Will add it to businessethos shortly.

    Storyboards really help people wrap their minds around social media marketing. We use plant analogies to help us explain what we do.


  24. excellent overview and analogies Jeremiah. I’ll present it to Zack (6) and Luke (3) and see how it resonates. I’m pretty certain that they get it.

  25. Приятно понимать, что остались действительно блоги в этой мусорке рейтинга Яши. Ваш – один из таких. Спасибо!

  26. Вот именно поэтому и иногда не хочется идти вперёд!

  27. Great piece of work. I’m curious to know where you feel analytics platforms fit? i.e. Omniture, Google Analytics, Coremetrics. Seems they do have a role, specifically around on-domain community for Brands. Have they lost their role as monitoring tools have emerged?

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