The social media transformation process: Curating content into strategy

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Purpose - Social media is an engaging area of research that is rapidly evolving. The purpose of this paper is to focus on how corporations should effectively utilize this new media as a marketing channel. The key to any successful communication strategy is matching the message to the target audience and achieving customer engagement. Two important target audience variables were identified as crucial when determining an organization's social media communications strategy: the level of brand relationship, and the level of category involvement. Design/methodology/approach - Depth interviews were initially employed, followed by questionnaires, and then computer assisted content analysis was performed on 723 online media articles relating to social media marketing to identify semantic and conceptual relationships. Findings - Research from both a customer and corporate perspective led to insights into how organizations can develop their social media strategies in order to transform their brand message from being perceived as a commercial source of information to a social source - the social media transformation process. Research limitations/implications - This research suggests a finer level of segmentation of social media users that will lead to content strategies adapted to fit the current levels of brand and category involvement. This could be used by organization to develop a model of best practice to achieve their social media objectives. Practical implications - It is crucial for organizations to understand how different groups of users influence, receive, curate, and interact via social media. The greater the depth of this knowledge, the greater the effectiveness of content marketing strategies developed by the corporation. Organizations that utilize social media marketing must carefully analyse the large amount of consumer information available to them, listen to consumer conversations, and determine the needs and segments that will be most receptive to different approaches. They must also accept that in a social media environment user generated content and interactive communication processes should be at the heart of successful strategy. Originality/value - To date, there has been limited analysis of how relationship and involvement factors drive social media content (Choet al. , 2014; Malthouseet al. , 2013). More research is needed to understand how key user characteristics lead to content that fully utilizes the social interaction and message diffusion potential of this media. This paper introduces a hierarchy of content marketing based upon the type of relationship between the user and the organization, as well as their level of product category involvement.