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3M and HoneyComb Frameworks of social media

3M and Honey Comb Frameworks of Social Media


The social media landscape has changed a lot in just a decade. Rise of social networking affected the communication landscape of the world. From the news media sites to big businesses and individual users of all ages are using  social media for one purpose or another. A large part of the global population is actively engaging with social media technology. The world has come far from social media websites like Friendster to Facebook, Instagram and Linked In. Most of the world’s talk and discussion now takes place on social media websites and blogs. Most big businesses are taking social networking seriously and integrating it with their marketing strategy. Conversations on social media affect reputation of brands and it is why businesses have to remain conscious about their social media presence. Social media is good and bad but either way it is powerful and full of impact. Several times, brands have been caught unaware and the result was that they faced a brand image and public relation  crisis (for example Uber). Today, one simple social media post can harm a product or a brand as a harpoon kills a whale. Still, managers fail to understand the opportunities and risks presented by social media. The reason is that there is a major gap in the understanding of the managers about what social media is and the forms it can take. This gap in understanding can be filled by the use of social media frameworks. Here, I am going to discuss two major social media frameworks which can help understand social media and its impact on societies and culture as well as businesses better. The first one is the Honeycomb framework and another is the 3M framework.

HoneyComb Framework:

The Honey Comb Framework proposed by Kietzmann, Hermkens, McCarthy and Sylvester has seven functional building blocks. Each of these functional blocks of social media represents one facet or aspect of the social media experience and its implication for businesses and people. These facets are more like social media constructs that help us make sense of the social media experience and its various levels/categories as well as the role of each facet in the overall experience.


It is the first functional block of the social media experience. It denotes the extent to which social media users will reveal their personal identities or personal information like age, sex, profession, location etc. There are several social media websites that are built around this functional block which need the user to build a personal profile. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit etc require the user to create a verifiable personal profile. However, since users willingly share personal information about themselves on the social media, it does not mean they are not concerned about their privacy. They are concerned for their privacy and any secondary firm’s use of their personal information for a good or bad reason. The users resort to several ways to protect their privacy. Sometimes they build different profiles for different platforms under different aliases to hide their original identity.


This functional block represents the extent to which users communicate with others on a social media network. This is also the central functional block or theme of social media sites which are designed mainly to facilitate communication among users. People use messenger, twitter messaging, Whatsapp etc to send private messages. Messages and communication on social media can be formal or informal in nature. However, the conversations functional block lends extra importance to the social media experience. It is because people also see such social media sites as a way to make themselves heard. It is having a major positive impact in several areas and helping people and groups build consensus on several topics like environmental issues, political debates and humanitarian causes. Twitter mainly facilitates short messages which resemble real time updates. People use it to stay connected with their friends and followers or invite attention to particular topics and issues. Blogs are also very good in terms of initiating conversations on a wide range of topics including environmental, social and economic issues as well as technology. Firms are now using corporate blogging for conversation and to talk to a large audience composed of customers and other stakeholders. Dove’s Real Beauty campaign of 2004 is a good example of the use of blogging for promotion and conversation. People talked on Dove’s blog as well as several other social media channels and the campaign became a major hit. Firms that know how to use social media conversations for the right impact can perform well in terms of social media marketing and branding.


Sharing denotes the extent of distribution and exchange of content among users on social media channels. The term social in itself implies some form of connection based on some form of exchange. These objects which are exchanged or shared become the reason that people connect with each other. Whether it is about sharing videos, images, news or any other form of content, the audience of social media networks are connected by a shared object. In case of many social media platforms, sharing may be the leading method of connecting and initiating a conversation. Picture and video sharing sites or music sharing sites like YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest, are some good examples. Twitter and Facebook also have sharing functions which enable users to share images and other multimedia.


This functional block signifies the extent to which users can know if others are present and accessible. They can know where others are in the virtual or real world and if they are available online. Users post status updates on several of social media platforms and tag their locations. It allows their friends and followers to know what they are doing and where they are. Moreover, most social media platforms automatically show if a user is currently online including friendship and marriage websites.


The relationships block signifies the extent to which users can be related to other users. Related here means some form of association between users that allows them to communicate, share, meet or list others as friends and followers. The degree of intimacy in these relationships can vary between platforms. In some cases, relationships can be related and structured as in case of Linked In. The focus here is career and employment and users can be working in the same organisation or be linked through common area of interest or employed in the same field. On many other platforms relationships are not structured or regulated as in case of blogs. In case of YouTube and Twitter too, relationships hardly matter and you can follow anyone and comment on any post/video. However, the users enjoy some degree of control on their accounts which allows them to avoid social media bullying by blocking bad followers. Businesses seeking to engage with social media users must understand how they can build and maintain relationships.


Reputation functional block of the Honey Comb framework signifies the extent to which social media users can identify the standing of others and themselves in a social media network. For different social media networks reputation may have different implications. The number of followers can be a sign of high reputation on most social media sites. Generally, it is the celebrities, political leaders, technology experts, other influencers and businesses that rule in this area. Rihanna has around 94 million followers on Twitter while Guy Kawasaki who was also Apple’s chief evangelist for more than four years also has more than one million followers on Twitter. Most big businesses have followers in several millions. However, reputation does not imply just the reputation of a user but also the reputation of content and the size of his/her audience. In case of YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest, the number of likes and shares a video or image receives implies the size of its reputation. Understanding this block is essential for firms trying to engage social media users. However, reputation cannot be judged on a single metric like number of followers. A high number of followers does not necessarily imply that a high number of people actually read the posts. Firms can develop their own metrics in order to be effective at engaging social media users.


This functional block signifies the extent to which social media users can form communities and sub communities in a social media setting. On Facebook, twitter and Reddit, users can form groups. Twitter allows you to create lists. Facebook groups can be open to everyone or can be open upon request and endorsement. On Reddit, users can create new groups or join existing groups. Reddit are mostly bound by a common topic or issue.These groups are somewhat similar to clubs in the offline world. Google Plus groups (when Google Plus was in existence) were about ideas or celebrities and similar various topics.

3M Framework of social media:

The 3M framework of social media was presented by Gallaugher and Ramsbotham of Boston College U.S. in 2010. The 3Ms of the framework refer to ‘Megaphone, Magnet and Monitor’. The researchers have presented this framework to help analyse and understand the social media based customer dialog. This is also a useful framework for understanding the role of social media in firm-customer interactions and how its power can be utilised best to achieve a firm’s business and marketing objectives.

Megaphone (Firm initiated social media dialog):- 

This refers to the use of social media to amplify a firm’s voice. Firms use the social media channels to share their messages with the public. Since social media networks are public channels, they act as megaphones amplifying the voice of business firms and help them reach millions. If used effectively, social media helps with brand positioning, sending clear cut messages as well as promotion and distribution of time sensitive content and information and even for organisational purposes like recruitment. Firms must know the several paths available to reach their customers as well as how effective and appropriate each one is to achieve its communication goals.

Magnet (Customer Initiated Social Media dialog) :-

This refers to the property of social media which enables it to draw attention and dialog. First can attract and leverage inbound dialog but in order to do that they must first establish a recognisable social media presence. Establishing a strong presence is essential so that the message does not get lost in the crowd of online content. Firms can use this property of social media to augment their customer service abilities as well as to capture feedback, enhance market research and to foster innovation. This property of social media allows to engage even the passive observers since it provides information and showcase the interaction of firms with other customers.

Monitor (Customer to customer social media dialog) :- 

Social media can also be used to monitor customer to customer dialog and to utilise it to gather insights and market intelligence. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, technology discussion forums etc provide mechanisms for customer to customer engagement. Apart from passive engagement, social media also allows firms to engage customers actively. Organisations have to monitor customer dialog for several reasons including correction of inaccuracies, to remedy problems, promote products and to encourage promotional activities. Firms can mediate customer dialogue in public or in private. Since social media offers wide visibility and reach, managers must have contextual analysis skills and judgment to monitor customer social media dialog. The rival firms can also monitor customer dialog for gathering market intelligence.

These are the two social media frameworks that social media managers can use to decipher the social media puzzle and effectively interact with their audience. Many times social media managers are unable to understand these functionalities well and end up wasting their time and efforts. Understanding the functionalities of each of the social media channels can help them create better strategies and effectively interact with customers and create improved social media experiences. It can also help them gather better insights and promote their brand and products with much higher impact. Several of Nike’s social media promotions including YouTube videos were successful at boosting sales immediately. Social media managers can gain creative insights from such examples. They should use the two above discussed frameworks to deliver more effective social media marketing campaigns and to create the kind of impact their audience around the globe loves.


“Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media” by Jan H. Kietzmann , Kristopher Hermkens, Ian P. McCarthy and Bruno S. Silvestre (www.sciencedirect.com)