The following post was written by guest blogger Avi Lambert, a social marketer from Canada.

The broad adoption of the consensus definition of social marketing is certainly something to smile about. It also got me thinking that it’s a great jumping off point for a post on the topic of semantic web thinking for social marketers.

semantic web word cloud 

A portion of the consensus definition compellingly states that social marketing focuses on “demographically segmented social change programmes that are effective & [sic] efficient”.

In today’s marketing mix, where social media is ubiquitous, it’s worthwhile to expand the knowledge base for the campaigns, interventions and efforts using these tactics.  The concept of active versus passive media gets the ball rolling towards semantic web thinking. 

“This is the easiest way for you to think about your innovation in media: Can your customers be primarily passive or active with their media? What’s the percentage? Can a passive media become an active media? Can an active media become a passive media? Is this what your customer wants? How will your passive and active media play together in the marketing mix? How well will your brand be able to blend the two types of media together?”   — from the recent marketing book Ctrl Alt Delete by Mitch Joel

Thinking about the different offerings that media types provide is certainly a large part of what social marketers do to better engage with target audiences. More importantly, in seeking to reveal what works, this kind of thinking can put the proper rigour in place for appreciating social media’s true reach and return on investment.

Indeed, asking who the audience is has increasingly moved online. For that reason, semantic web thinking can help extend the conversation a step further into the technological realm.

What is semantic web thinking? The short definition is a web in which the words that people search for, and the content people publish on different social networks can become something more, a contextual and accessible platform.

One way we can see the operation of the semantic web in real terms is with the growth of Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and other networks. These social networks together represent two things that are important for the semantic web perspective: that the contemporary news cycle is transformative and increasingly personal; and that the underlying services that are used to track and target users can be used for social good.

Obviously, the recent issues revealed by Edward Snowden represent a darker side of the semantic web. Recognizing this, the value of this concept shows that social marketers can and do use the web for good. I for one would like to see the opening-up of a space on Change Notes for iSMA members to talk more about effective social media campaigns.

At any rate, Google’s affinity segments and Twitter’s hashtags are among many ways in which machine learning has enabled marketers to gain a much more granular view. It’s worth noting the recent adoption of a Twitter hashtag to more closely follow iSMA’s webinars > #ismawbnr.

Social Marketing @isma_org
We'll be livecasting from the #ismaWBNR. Join the Twitter conversation, we encourage sharing! #SocialFranchising #ismawbnr

I believe semantic web thinking represents a crucial new tool in the toolbox for social marketers, especially as it provides an opportunity for social marketers to better reach people where they live, and spend time.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

The following video, expands on semantic web thinking: by Tim Berners-Lee, one of the inventors of the internet. 



Business Canvas Facilitator, Digital Strategist, Thought Leader. Working with clients around the globe, based in Victoria, British Columbia, Avi collaborates with brands, public sector organizations and individuals to increase efficiencies and build community. He is a a co-founder of Open Victoria, a member of the Canadian Public Relations Society, the International Association of Social Marketing and the Open Data Society of British Columbia. See avilambert.net for more information.