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Understanding the Social Media Ecology: A Honeycomb Framework


Social media are defined as "those interactive web platforms via which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content" Kietzmann et al. (2011, p. 241)


This video animate is based on the social media honeycomb framework presented in this posting:


Friendster, Hi5, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Technorati, Reddit, Digg, Delicious, Twitter: there is a rich, diverse and ever growing ecology of social media sites, offering various functionalities and capabilities. This ecology has shifted the power from those in marketing and public relations to individuals and communities that create, share, and consume blogs, tweets, Facebook entries, YouTube clips, and so forth. For instance, as BBC Business Editor Tim Weber explains: ‘‘These days, one witty tweet, one clever blog post, one devastating video –forwarded to hundreds of friends at the click of a mouse– can snowball and kill a product or damage a company’s share price.’’

But how should managers monitor, engage with and exploit the activities and content generated by the different sites that make up this social media ecology? It depends!!

I addressed this question in a recent paper, written with colleagues Jan Kietzmann, Kristopher Hermkens and Bruno Silvestre.  We present a honeycomb framework of seven social media building blocks -identity, conversations, sharing, presence, relationships, reputation, and groups (see Figure 1). Each block of the framework allows you to unpack and examine a specific facet of social media user experience, and its implications for firms (see Figure 2). Utilized individually and together, these blocks can help managers to make sense of the social media ecology, and understand their audience and their engagement needs.









We explain how a firm can recognize and understand its social media landscape, using the honeycomb framework; develop strategies that are congruent with, or suited to, different social media functionalities and the goals of the firm; develop curating strategies for their own social media interactions and content; and finally use the honeycomb structure as a tool to evaluate the constantly changing social media activity. For example, consider how the activities and content of LinkedIn, Foursquare, YouTube, and Facebook all vary -the darker the color of a block, the greater this social media functionality is within the site (see Figure 3).



Firms interested in getting serious about social media can use the honeycomb framework to monitor and understand how social media activities vary in terms of function and impact, and to develop a congruent social media strategy based on the appropriate balance of building blocks for their community.

For a more detailed description of each honeycomb framework, see the full article:


You can view a great Prezi presentation of the honeycomb framework here: