A Social Media Framework

I find myself increasingly speaking on the topic of social media. I’m not a guru or an expert, by any means. I am just a practitioner who is learning through trial and error.

A Social Media Framework

I am often asked how it all works together. People say, “Okay, I get the blog thing. I understand Facebook and Twitter—sort of. But how does it all work together?”

More than a year ago, I heard Chris Brogan lecture in New York on social media. He introduced the concept of a Simple Presence Framework. Several months later, Jon Dale, a consultant to our company, introduced us to a similar concept. He called it a Social Media Framework.

I want to share my version of that. I have borrowed concepts and terms from both—and others—but this is my particular recipe. I would encourage you to read their’s as well.

A good social media strategy has three components.

  1. A Homebase. This is a digital property you own and control. It is where your loyal fans gather. It can be as simple as a blog or as complex as a self-hosted community. Regardless, it is where you direct all internet traffic. Why? Because this is the place where you can best sell your ideas or products. You control the borders and determine who has access.
  2. Embassies. These are places you don’t own, but where you have a registered profile. In other words, you have a regular presence on someone else’s property. You engage in conversations with those who congregate there. Examples would include Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, or even other blogs you follow. You generally need a “Passport” (verified credentials) granted by the site owner to maintain residency or participate in conversations.
  3. Outposts. These are places you don’t own nor have a regular presence. Instead, you simply listen into conversations about you, your brand, your company, or topics that interest you. For example, I have search columns in HootSuite that monitor mentions of both my name and my company. I also have Google Alerts that monitor the same information wherever it may occur on the Web.

The bottom line is that all the social media tools available fit into one of these three buckets. If you are just involved in social media for the sake of entertainment, you may not need a homebase. But if you are serious about building a platform, that’s precisely where you need to start. From there you can set up embassies and outposts.

Question: Are you currently employing all three components of this model?
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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • James Castellano

    It has been confusing but I now building my presence all three components. I recently read "Crushing It", Gary Vaynerchuk who really brings the whole social media world down to an understandable level. Your post today makes it even easier to understand. Thanks.
    My recent post

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/PattiM PattiM

      very true James. I just finished "Crush it" yesterday and had started laying the groundwork to implementing it last night. Michael's post today distills those concepts down even further. Love it, homebase, embassies and outposts.
      My recent post Opposition Goes After the Stalling

      • http://www.leadingisreading.blogspot.com James Castellano

        I have been using ping.fm as the tool to update all the pages at the same time. Will look into hootsuite to see how that works.
        My recent post

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  • Don

    The idea of homebases, embassies and outposts is a good way to visually frame this strategy. Another component of this strategy would be to tie all of these properties together, where appropriate. Have your blog send out a tweet when a new post is put up. Have Facebook pull your Twitter feed so that it is displayed on your status. Have LinkedIn push your status out to Twitter and pull in tweets tagged with #in. Tying everything together helps to unify your message and to bring others into the conversation.
    My recent post Why blog?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Very good point. That's one of the reasons I use HootSuite. I can update several services at once.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/patriciazell patriciazell

    With the help of your posts, I can say I am using all three componets of social media. I have my own homebase, quite a number of embassies, and an outpost (Google Alerts). After spending the school year building all of these, I'm going to tweak what I have and perhaps, add more. I have a message that I want to share with as many people as possible, and through the book I am writing on my blog and other social media, my opportunities to do just that are pratically unlimited.

    My recent post #35 THE DOING OF BELIEVING: TRUTH

  • http://www.maclakeonline.com Mac Lake

    Thanks Mike, this framework is so helpful and simple.
    My recent post Stop Making Decisions

  • Juan

    Thanks Mike,
    Social media give us the opportunity to meet other people or better to network the world. It is like saying "look at me, I am here" or embassies but also to "look at others" or "learn from others" or Outposts.
    I personally think Social Media gives us the best exposure to develop our Personal Leadership Brand. I have learn a great deal of things about my network or the people in my network in LinkedIn & Twitter than what Email could allow me.
    For example : If I have a meeting with a person, I google his/her name, then I go to LinkedIn and Twitter, so by the time I get to meet this person face-to-face I know about his/her background. That allows me to have an interesting conversation.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/success2you John Richardson

    Great topic, Michael. Following your lead, I have taken on a 12 week social media adventure on my blog to learn about all the components. They say that you learn best when you have to teach something, so I've done a lot of reading and started simple. The first four weeks I'm covering the basics of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and WordPress. The next seven will be a more detailed look at what works for some of the top social media folks. We'll focus a week each on personality, passion, purpose, people, problem solving, place, and tie it all together by developing a path to get there.
    I'm hoping when I'm done, to be able to take my posts, expand on them, and publish a book on the subject. As a speaker, I've found that everyone wants to hear about social media. This book would make a great back table item and be a simple twelve week guide to put all the pieces together for a beginner or small business person.
    Since you have created one of the best "places" on the net, your blog will be my focus in week 10. So far on the adventure, we took on a domain name of meedeeah, created a Twitter page, and are looking at creating a Facebook fan page later this week. It's been a blast so far. I hope to incorporate a lot of my blog comments in the sidebar of the book, since these are the questions most people are asking.
    Thanks for being an inspiration in this confusing but exciting world of social media!
    My recent post Social Media: An Overview of Facebook

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I love he name, John. Very clever!

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/success2you John Richardson

        When I looked at domain names that were available, I had narrowed it down to meedeeuh and meedeeah. The one with UH in it is probably how most people feel when they first get involved with social media… uh, how does that work… uh, what is this tweet thing? etc. I want to change it to AH as in Ah Ha… that's how it works or AH the feeling of relief when it all works as promised. It's amazing the difference one letter can make. :-)
        My recent post Social Media: An Overview of Facebook

  • http://www.thebowenagencypr.com RuthAnn Bowen

    Thanks for distilling the massive amounts of information on social media into three simple points. Excellent framework.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I can't claim it is original, but I like the simplicity, too. It kind of puts it all together.

  • http://www.todshuttleworth.com Tod Shuttleworth

    Mike – This is fantastic. This is a much simpler expalnation that a lot of people can get their heads around. I will refer others to this often. Thanks!!
    My recent post Why Publishers Will Still Be Relevant

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  • @MichaelNozbe

    Great post Mike – and as you explained before – it's crucial to have a connection between the Homebase and Embassies and between each of the Embassies. Whenever I post on my blog, automatically a Tweet is being sent to my Twitter account and the post preview is being sent to both my Facebook Fanpage and profile.

    This way I can later monitor the conversations on the social media sites.

    I use Tweetie and have also set up the search terms to monitor what's going on about me and my company. Same for Google alerts – good tip!
    My recent post Book review: SWITCH by Heath brothers – a positive way to change

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/John_Gallagher John_Gallagher

    Mike, Great simplification. I could use some work on the Outposts as well as doing a better job of tying it all back to home base.

  • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com WomenLivingWell

    I always feel like maybe I should be doing more or maybe I am missing something. It was comforting to know that I have my bases covered and now the job is to simply create good content, community and contacts.

    Thanks for another helpful post!

    My recent post Book Review: The Daniel Fast by Susan Gregory

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  • http://theperkinsblog.com Michael

    I thought I was but after reading this, I think that I have been kinda all over the place. Wow! I am very curious about google alerts.
    My recent post God Wants To Put Tomatoes On Your Sandwhich

  • Clay

    I've got a social media consultant ready to help me get my hands around what I'm still trying to get my head around. This post is very helpful for better envisioning what the goal will be. I'm social-media-ly challenged for now but making progress. One thought, though. What about all the "Alliances" that are possible now in the social media world–are they part of the strategy, tools for the strategy, or just the fruit of the strategy? I'm thinking of blog rolls, contributors, email newsletters, and such.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/AndrewComings AndrewComings

    Ever since you first wrote about this strategy I have worked hard to implement it. Not only has it transformed the way I use social media, it has also broadened and deepened my contacts. I recently had the opportunity to speak to a group of about 100 missionaries here in Brazil about social media. After sharing this philosophy with them (giving credit where credit is due, of course) several of them expressed appreciation, telling me that they had never understood until then how social media could be a useful tool in ministry.
    My recent post Brazilian Musical Interlude: Asa Branca

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/AndrewComings AndrewComings

    Ever since you first wrote about this strategy I have worked hard to implement it. Not only has it transformed the way I use social media, it has also broadened and deepened my contacts. I recently had the opportunity to speak to a group of about 100 missionaries here in Brazil about social media. After sharing this philosophy with them (giving credit where credit is due, of course) several of them expressed appreciation, telling me that they had never understood until then how social media could be a useful tool in ministry.
    My recent post Brazilian Musical Interlude: Asa Branca

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/kerijoraz kerijoraz

    Thank you for your insightful comments regarding setting up a homebase, embassies, and outposts. I'm working on developing a social networking stategy and online presence for D.C. Jacobson & Associates from the ground up. Wrapping my mind around the myriads of possibilities is daunting and I've gotten sidetracked and bogged down in the ocean of information. I've been reading your blog from afar (an embassy) for some time. This post resonated and has helped me refocus my efforts. It's tough to build an online presence and social media strategy without grasping the layout of the land, or virtual universe in this case. Thanks for helping me see the forest through the trees.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/mitchebie Mitch Ebie

    Great post, thanks! Here are a couple great sources that I use to stay current on social media: 1) Social Media Examiner and 2) Fluxe Digital Marketing (facebook fan page). I also think it is a good idea to open up a profile in as many social platforms as possible, but not necessarily be active on them all. I am active on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, but I have a profile with Tumblr, Flickr, YouTube and many more. I do this so that no one else takes my name on another social site, especially if it is popular. Here is a list of social sites that will tell you if your name is available: http://namechk.com/

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/mitchebie Mitch Ebie

    I also use Hootsuite, very useful!

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/mitchebie Mitch Ebie

    I have read some things lately about Google reader, which lets you receive automatic updates from the people that you follow. Well, Hootsuite has a similar feature. Go to settings then RSS. Add the link to the blogs/people that you follow and you can have it automatically tweet. Then the tweets can automatically post to your fan page, linkedin and other sites. Caution: Automation is good, but do not allow too many tweets and posts to run automatically or you will lose your "real-person" connection with your followers.
    My recent post "Without involvement there is no commitment." -Stephen Covey…So get involved, whether it be with your church community, your friends lives, your spouse (gf/bf), your children, or all of the above.

  • http://forrest-long.blogspot.com Forrest Long

    Thanks for sharing a good perspective on social media. Sometimes we don't see the connectedness. Then some of us are in several areas and there seems to be no connection. For example, I am in ministry, in art and writing- something like having three separate planets in the media solar system. I'm working on it all. So I appreciate your post.
    My recent post Silence for a break

  • http://twitter.com/aaronRfoster @aaronRfoster

    Hey Michael,
    Thanks for the post. Great info and very helpful in understanding the importance of how they all work together and help each other. This is very timely for me as I'm in the begging stages of getting everything up and running. I've recently launched a online business card at aaronrfoster.com which is under currently under construction and will be turning it into a blog by the end of the year. Little scary jumping right into a blog, but sometimes you just gotta go for it right? Really looking forward to meeting you personally at Catalyst West Coast. Aaron

  • http://www.speckleofdirt.com Speckle

    I'm currently working on establishing my platform. At first I was just employing facebook as a place to derive traffic, but felt like I was badgeting people I knew to go to my blog. After reading your recommendation, Crush It!, I'm using Twitter as well. I've also registered at various place like, Blogher and SITS, and I'm using the iPhone to keep track of everything. I'm such a newbie at this, and I'm not really sure where it's all going, but writing my blog and staying connected is a great way to spend my mornings from 5:30-7 am. Thanks for your posts! http://www.speckleofdirt.com
    My recent post The Lazy Gardener?

  • Susie Shaw

    So, Michael, with the post yesterday and now todays…how do we navigate the social media with the mindset of Jesus rather than getting sucked into the popular? would love to hear your musings on this…I'm struggling with how they are compatible?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Jesus did teach the multitudes. It just wasn't where he focused his time. I think they are compatible. My blogging is primarily about me clarifying my own thinking and casting a wide net. My mentoring group is where I see myself having the bigger impact. Thanks.

      • Susie Shaw

        Thanks Michael. That's helpful. It's probably more a check-in on my heart as I begin using more social media to platform and the tension of media becoming "too important" (i.e. idol in my heart…checking in as a means of approval). I know that will steal the joy of the things jesus has entrusted me with.
        It helps to think of it as the "smaller thing" and the message/relationships the "big thing"

        • http://www.therextras.com Barbara Boucher

          “the joy of the things jesus has entrusted me with.” I like how you put that, Susie. I struggle with online time vs. not and daily look to Him to guide my priorities.

          Thank you, Michael. I like designating my blog as ‘homebase’ now. Gives me a comforting feeling.

  • http://www.taskbender.com Pk

    Now, this is a strategy. I have really been sort of disorganized about the social media, but now it is all coming clear.

  • http://twitter.com/taskbender @taskbender

    Now, this is a strategy. I have been sort of disorganized about social media, but this explains it clearly. I'll try and follow the three components.

  • http://www.kviconsulting.com David

    Excellent post. I love bring things down to their simplest form. I will repost on my site (with your permission). Hope it helps many others.
    My recent post If you register your site for free at

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yes, please read my copyright guidelines about re-posting.

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  • http://www.shrinkingthecamel.com Bradley J. Moore

    Yes, I have a home base, a few embassies and a solid set of outposts. Check. Check. Check. But I find that these strategies are only as strong as the amount of time you can devote to keeping up with it all. I can only maintain as a part-time hobby – even at that it feels tyrannical sometimes!
    My recent post What to Do When You Are Completely Overwhelmed at Work

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yep. I think you do have to make choices about this kind of stuff. There's only so much time!

  • http://billycoffey.com Billy Coffey

    I’m glad I stopped by here today. I’ve never heard social networking explained in this way, and that sort of thinking will hopefully allow me to simplify what’s becoming increasingly complicated.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      That's what I liked about it. It simplifies things. I don't think any of us need more complexity.

  • http://www.jasoncurlee.com Jason Curlee

    Love the framework…as I'm employing all of them it is great to have such a simple way of explaining it.
    My recent post Blogs I Wouldn’t Leave Planet Earth Without

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/HSchiefelbein HSchiefelbein

    Michael – great blog post. Although I'm tempted to disagree with your opening line about not being an expert or guru. I see you as an excellent example, so guru certainly seems applicable.

    I think your post here could be expanded for the beginner. I understand what you're talking about b/c I consider myself a guru of social media and creating a platform. Specifically, I'm about two months away from launching my HomeBase – transferring from a Blogger account to a WorkPress – very exciting.

    Great post. Thanks for the insight. Also, you're setting a good example taking your blog/Twitter hiatus. Good luck with that.

  • http://www.jdeddins.blogspot.com JD Eddins

    This was very valuable. Thanks for your insight. Right now I am reading Every Communicates, Few Connect, so this definitely will push me to valuate how I am connecting with others in various areas.

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  • Dave Anthold

    I try to build and use all three of these platforms or frameworks but I am just getting my feet wet. I am in the process of reshaping my platform and I want to hav e a more defined vision before moving forward; these strategies presented are a great way to help me focused. Thanks for he insights!

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  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    Yes, I am. I am still holding on that Facebook is for a selective few, mainly people I know, but I wonder if I should open a Fan Page for me. I do have regular and new visits to my blog every day from 15-50 readers a day. However, I feel as if a person who has a Fan Page should be someone like you, Trump, or some celebrity somewhere. What does everyone think?

  • http://www.pricebonus.com/ Michelle

    Thanks Michael. That’s helpful. It’s probably more a check-in on my heart as I begin using more social media to platform and the tension of media becoming “too important” (i.e. idol in my heart…checking in as a means of approval). I know that will steal the joy of the things jesus has entrusted me with.
    It helps to think of it as the “smaller thing” and the message/relationships the “big thing”

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  • http://clearingtheattic.com Eddy

    This is a great breakdown of how to thoughtfully approach the whole social media arena. I think since each aspect can be time-consuming and energy-draining, it's helpful to define the different areas. I'd never considered the "why" of spending more time and energy on a blog than say facebook or twitter, but that framework seems to clarify it for me.

  • http://www.3threat.net Alan Danielson

    Great stuff Michael. I've described it as a "Social Media Solar System". My blog is the Sun (Homebase). Twitter, Facebook, and Linked in are the first three planets (Embassies), and my brand search columns in TweetDeck is my dwarf planet (outpost). Love the new word-picture you've painted here.

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  • 7veils

    I like this model. It is very clear and I think could really help people clarify their social media presence and strategy.

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  • http://www.matizmo.co.uk Jake Coventry

    Thanks for the post. I like the way you have split it into three components.

  • TRX

    Thank you so much, I was searching
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  • Stephen Halen

    Thanks for Sharing You
    make a great point. Thank you! I agree with every word and It really helps


     Social Media Marketing 

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