Fishing Where The Fish Are:
Mapping Social Media
to the Buying Cycle
Chris Brogan / chrisbrogan.com
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We know that buying cycles are basically some variation
on this theme:
People become (or are made) aware of something. They
take interest. They research their buying decisions. If youʼre
lucky, they purchase the product or service. Afterwards, itʼs a
matter of keeping them a customer as long as you can.
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Social media offers tools
like blogging, podcasts,
and social networks as
ways to reach into this
buying cycle. It doesn’t
operate as an island. It
ties into your traditional
There are many differences in the execution, but the strategies tie
in nicely to your traditional goals. What follows is a brief summary
of six approaches to using social media to inﬂuence these
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Fish Where The Fish Are- Six Social Media Approaches
1.) Find the Customer
2.) Be There Before the Sale
3.) Be (or Empower) the Inﬂuencer
4.) Shift Behavior
5.) Warm Up the Funnel
You’ll note that these approaches don’t seem too
different than typical marketing and sales methods, in
name. It’s in the execution and the tools where things
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1.) Find the Customer
Frank Eliason from
Comcast didn’t wait for his
customers to approach
him. He used Twitter to
seek out people having
service issues, and then he helped solve their problems.
What if you blogged about the area your potential
customers might come from, like DigitalNomads.com
from Dell did? Social media lets you ﬁnd your customers
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2.) Be There Before the Sale
Long before you need a loan
for your kid’s education, you
should know about the
Financial Aid Podast and
Christopher S. Penn.
Chris works hard to deliver trusted information to
people without asking for your money. In fact, Chris
does the opposite: he shows you have to save your
money, day in and day out. By giving it all away, Chris
ensures that you’ll think of him ﬁrst when buying.
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3.) Be (or empower)
Luis Suarez is a voice
inside of IBM’s effort
to power social
shares his views, encourages others, and builds
relationships that don’t immediately impact IBM, except
that they do. We know Luis, and we form an opinion on
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4.) Shift Behavior
Scott Monty has his job
cut out for him. His role
is to head social media
for Ford. What does
blogging and Twitter
have to do with selling
cars? Scott’s going to ﬁnd out.
One way Scott moved to shift behavior was to start
offering bloggers rides in the Ford Flex. Will it work? Will
we blog about the car? This is perhaps the hardest step.
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5.) Warm Up the Funnel
Mike Dunn has lots of
experience in making
relationships. He is one
of the top cool hunters
at Hearst Interactive. He
wouldn’t put it this way,
but he probably has to kiss a lot of frogs to ﬁnd a prince
in that realm.
Social media offers lots of ways to create “multi-touch”
contact with prospects and buyers.
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If there were a patron
saint of measurement,
it would be K.D. Paine.
There’s a reason she
speaks at all the hot
conferences. K.D. is
one of the few who can easily talk about how social
media is measured. But there are ways to add gauges to
what we propose when we talk about social media. They
just take a bit more thinking than traditional methods.
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Tools for the Approach
For each of these six approaches to the buying process,
let’s look at some examples of tools. Then, we’ll talk
about their use.
1.) Find the Customer - listening tools, search.
2.) Be There Before the Sale - proﬁles, presence.
3.) Be (or Empower) the Inﬂuencer - blogs, platforms.
4.) Shift Behavior - (this isn’t tool speciﬁc. More below.)
5.) Warm Up the Funnel - Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
6.) Measure - Hubspot, Radian6, BuzzLogic, More.
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Find the Customer- Tools / Application
Here are some listening and search tools:
Use these tools to build searches on your company’s
name, your products’ names, your competitors, but
MOST importantly, think of what someone would type
into Google at the moment they needed you most.
Search for that.
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Be There Before the Sale- Tools / Application
Build proﬁles on social networks and websites, and
update them. Have an account on:
(You might have some other recommendations here.)
Put up YOUR picture, not a corporate logo. Represent by
being you, and by being a good employee.
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Be (or empower) the Influencer - Tools / Application
Have a blog, a lively blog, a place where you talk not just
about your company and product, but instead, you talk
about the space your customers inhabit. Luis Suarez
talks about social computing - not just IBM products,
but the ways in which companies use social computing.
Make sure your blog is nicely designed, is professional,
and that you’ve pointed your online points of presence
to it so you can encourage conversation. Make it easy
for people to share your material off-site, too.
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Shift Behavior - Applications
This is more of a “how” you should do it section. To shift
behavior, be helpful. Starbucks became our “third place”
because it was inviting, because transactions were easy,
because the place was conﬁgured for our business.
Be helpful. If you’re trying to sell more product, how can
you reduce friction to the purchase? What else can you
do that isn’t directly tied to a sale but that still helps?
Can you point to other people’s services when it makes
a difference? Shift behaviors by being online and by
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Warm Up the Funnel - Tools /Application
Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and commenting on
people’s blogs as a way to keep relationships “warm.”
Never underestimate the value of comments and
general, non-sales-minded conversations. Some tools to
help you stay on top of this:
* http://www.backtype.com - commenting tracking.
* http://www.friendfeed.com - lifestream hub.
* http://search.twitter.com - search for your name,
company’s name, product’s name, etc, and subscribe
to it via RSS.
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Measure - Tools /Application
There are many ways to measure social media’s impact.
You probably already think of pageviews, unique
visitors, comments. Here are some more:
* http://www.radian6.com , http://www.buzzlogic.com ,
http://www.crimsonhexagon , http://
www.vibemetrix.com - sentiment and comments.
* http://www.hubspot.com - site search quality, value of
Simple point: there’s more than numbers to consider.
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A Starting Strategy for Social Media
Using the six approaches above, here’s a quick rundown
of your potential starting points to building out a social
media project for your organization.
1.) Find the Customer - Assign two people in the organization to build
listening queries, populate an RSS reader as a command center, and
conduct regular reporting cycles on the fruits of listening.
2.) Be There Before the Sale - Create a quick, one page document to outline
company guidelines for building employee proﬁles on social platforms like
Facebook. Work with IT on ﬁrewall concerns. Work with management to lay
out fair use policies during work hours (again, no more than a page). Work
with sales/marketing/engineering on ideas for using the platforms.
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3.) Be (or Empower) the Inﬂuencer - Have a one page blogging policy in
place (usually no more strict than the email policy). Have policies on
comments (including how to handle negative comments). Build strategy on
types of posts, ideas for outreach, promotion, and ﬁnding similar blogs
and people in the space.
4.) Shift Behavior - Demonstrate through case studies and pilot efforts how
to empower employees to be helpful. Share examples and ideas on how
these efforts can positively impact marketing/sales efforts.
5.) Warm Up the Funnel - Determine a method for internally annotating the
social aspects of CRM, or build a way to report the multi-touch approach of
using social tools to reach out and maintain relationships with prospects
6.) Measurement - Improve current reporting to include the social elements
such as comments, inbound links, search term value, etc.
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The playing ﬁeld changes daily, and the tools mentioned above are
just a fraction of the hundreds of different choices that exist. The
strategies are general and the approach just starting points. The
difficult work is in customizing advice like this for your speciﬁc
needs. That said, hopefully, this is a starting point for how you
might approach integrating social media into your existing
marketing and sales efforts.
Not unlike Approach 4, my goal is to be helpful. If you have further
questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Thank you for your
-- Chris Brogan | firstname.lastname@example.org |617.759.3639 | http://www.chrisbrogan.com
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Cover photo credit: Manatari.
About the Author
Chris Brogan is a ten year veteran of using social media and technology to build
digital relationships for businesses, organizations, and individuals. Chris speaks,
blogs, writes articles, and makes media of all kinds at [chrisbrogan.com], a blog
in the top 20 of the Advertising Age Power150, and in the top 100 on Technorati.
Connect with Chris on LinkedIn.
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Contact Chris about Speaking.
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