On the Taxonomy of Social Media Marketing

 In Concepts, Discussion, Issue 1, Volume One


In recent years, marketing using social media has attracted attention from various perspectives (Hoffman & Fodor, 2010). For example, as a medium of native advertisement (Lee, Kim, & Ham, 2016), as a medium for buzz marketing (Hewett, Rand, Rust, & van Heerde, 2016), as a company PR media (Kumar, Bezawada, Rishika, Janakiraman, & Kannan, 2016) and so on. Therefore, the single word “social media marketing” covers a lot of genres. In the other word, where you say the single word “social media marketing”, it covers a lot of genres.

Then, from previous research, it seems that such a lot of genres in social media marketing would result from the relationship of the triple channel marketing. As is well known, the concept of social media marketing is one of the sub-strategy of the triple channel strategy, which combines owned media, earned media, and social media (Corcoran, 2009). Specifically, owned media means the media that controlled by the marketer (e.g., company web-site), paid media means the media that bought by the marketer (e.g., sponsorships, advertising), and earned media means the media that not controlled or bought by the marketer (e.g., word- of-mouth, viral). It is generally accepted that paid media is synonymous with social media.

Of course, the social media may be used as the sole marketing media. However, the assumption that social media is utilized as part of the triple channel is now widely accepted (Piotrowicz & Cuthbertson, 2014). Thus, in this paper, we will not consider using social media alone.

Furthermore, if the triple channel is grasped as a communication approach to customers using multiple media, it is expected that customers’ privacy issues will arise in marketing communications with multiple media. It goes without saying that the problem of social media and privacy deserves more than a passing notice. Therefore, in this paper, we will present a frame of reference on the privacy issue of the Social media marketing strategy.

Furthermore, in constructing the reference framework, the view of the sociomateriality(Hoffman & Fodor, 2010) that has been attracting attention in recent years IS (information systems) research is adopted (Orlikowski & Scott, 2008). In a nutshell, as described later. it is a perspective that advocates a different mechanism from “technology determinism.” In other words, it is a view that grasping technology and practice as inseparable one without distinguishing between them.

Meanwhile, there is no disagreement on this point that social media is different from conventional media. For this reason, in considering utilization of social media marketing, it is considered important to explore the logic that emerges from trial and error, not causal model. Therefore, we adopt the perspective of sociomateriality.

Thus, in this paper, a taxonomy of social media marketing will be proposed from the viewpoint of privacy and sociomateriality. To get straight to the point, we attempt to classify it by using two dichotomies. That is, the axis of privacy and the axis of sociomateriality. Therefore, this paper consists of three parts: first, privacy concerns in social media marketing are reviewed: next, features of sociomaterial view are introduced: finally, a reference frame is proposed.

The privacy issues on the triple media marketing

Social media marketing and privacy issue

In this section, the privacy issue in the social media marketing will be considered. To do so, we start with an overview of the features of triple media marketing. As is well known, there is no disagreement on the point that triple channel marketing is characterized by the following three factors is widely accepted, namely, interactivity, transparency, and extensibility (Sato, 2006).

First, the interactive nature means that two-way communication is possible in triple media marketing. While sending information from companies, consumers can not only receive information but also take actions such as further information gathering and information exchange. Second, the transparency means easy measurement of marketing effect. Since it is possible to accurately grasp the behavior of consumers (by using cookies and web beacons), the effect can be easily quantified. Third, the extensibility means that the media of the web has an infinite extent because it is not subject to space-time constraints.

It is obvious that the keywords underlying these properties are the utilization of consumer’s personal information. For example, interactivity may be developed based on consumer personal information. Transparency is based on understanding consumer’s purchase history and behavior history on the web, that is, mouse movement, browsing history, and so on. Lastly, because the extensibility is developed based on interactivity and transparency, again, it can be thought that extensibility and personal information are deeply related. Therefore, in triple media marketing, it is indispensable to handle customer’s personal information in some way.

Two different views of personal information and the concept of privacy

Two different personal information views or privacy concepts (sensitive information and information as currency) are considered bellow. Then, we will begin discussion from confirming the significance of personal information.

In the marketing of the academic area, purchase history data and personal data is considered as important management resources (Rossi, McCulloch, & Allenby, 1996; Wang, Lee, & Wang, 1998). However, purchase history data and personal data have different properties. The former is accumulated for each transaction and action. From the viewpoint of the company, such data is the measurement result of the action. Sometimes collected automatically by web technology and sensors. The latter is required to register. In addition, business opportunities will be created by purchase history data being accumulated and/or associated with personal data. In other word, information useful for business is generated by purchase history data and personal data.

Thereby, the combination of purchase history data and personal information has long been noted as a privacy problem (Wang et al., 1998). However, traditionally, the customer’s purchase history and personal data should not be concealed. This can be easily understood if you imagine the relationship with regular customers. In fact, customers enjoy a variety of services, instead of providing their own attributes and behaviors result. In other words, information about privacy can be understood as a consideration for the service (Schwartz, 2004).

Whereas, such a situation can be said that the paradox of privacy concept (Koga, 2015). As well-known, the beginning, the concept of privacy has been proposed as different rights and property rights (Warren & Brandeis, 1980). Nonetheless, as mentioned above, privacy (that is, personal data and/or private information) is now used as a substitute for currency at present. For example, privacy data can be exchanged for discount coupons. Hence, it can be said that the paradox of privacy.

Incidentally, such an idea is the same as the concept of privacy as self-information control right (or privacy as a right to control one’s self-information). Altogether, personal data or the concept of privacy was transformed from what should be kept secret (namely, privacy as a right to be left alone) to pseudo currency which can demand compensation (namely, privacy as self-information control right).

Furthermore, the self-information control right expands its scope of coverage. Specifically, the right to ask for the deletion of the data that should have been exchanged for consideration has been born. It is the emergence of the concept of privacy as a right to be forgotten (Ausloos, 2012). European Commission defined it as follows; That is, the right of individuals to have their data no longer processed and deleted when they are no longer needed for legitimate purposes (European Commission, 2010). Thus, the right to be forgotten is considered as an extension of self-information control right. Simultaneously, it can be understood that the concept of a right to be forgotten is an eclectic concept of self-information control right and traditional privacy concept. In consequence, it is considered that two different concepts coexist in the privacy issue arising from personal data.

A need for social approval and self-esteem in social media

Despite the two privacy concepts are different in dimension, there are common keyword. It is an ICT (information and communication technology) which is driving force for creating a new privacy concept. In the other word, generally, it is said that the expansion of the concept of privacy arises from the progress of ICT, especially personal identification technology[1].

Then, we assume that people are frightened to be able to identify individuals of data content published in information and/or web space. In other words, it can be said that it created the concept of the privacy as a right to control one’s self-information that the concern about the construction of a duplication of one’s personal life on information (or web) space[2]. Therefore, it can be thought that identification is the key factor in the privacy problem in social media marketing[3].

Contrary to this, if we can secure anonymity, we may be able to avoid privacy concerns in social media marketing. However, it is difficult to realize complete anonymity. Even if anonymity can be realized, there is still the possibility that a specific individual will be identified from the action history or contribution content. It is undeniable that the possibility that a specific individual is identified from the action history or contribution contents. In addition, in fact, the social media world is a world of pseudonyms such as user names, not anonymity.

Whereas, identification itself is not a problem. Rather, the context in which identification occurs is important. As mentioned above, the relationship between regular customers and sales clerks is premised on identification. To get straight to the point, invasion of privacy will be rarely felt when identification is done in a form that satisfies the consumer’s need for social approval and self-esteem. In other words, the privacy issue in social media marketing will depend on the degree of satisfaction of the customer’s need for social approval and self-esteem. Therefore, the relationship with customer’s need for social approval and self-esteem will be considered as one classification axis of privacy issue.

Social media viewed from the perspective of sociomateriality

Engi/縁起: dependent co-arising and constellation

In the previous section, aspects of personal data utilization of social media marketing were discussed. In addition, in this section, the meaning of the medium called social media is considered.

Particularly, in this section, the viewpoint of sociomateriality will be introduced. The viewpoint of sociomateriality is drawing attention in information system research, and consider the practical aspects of social media. As well-known, it is a perspective that captures the relationship of technology and organization[4]. Traditionally, it has been considered that technology and organization are a separate entity. Then, it has been the elucidation of the relationship between the two (in particularly, cause-and-effect relationship.) Besides, for considering the interaction of the organization and technology, theory of structuration[5] and Actor-Network Theory[6] has been incorporated.

In addition, nowadays, perspective to focus on the practice as ensemble of organization and technology have emerged. It is a view that focus on the relationship of human agency and artifacts performativity. By adopting the viewpoint of sociomateriality, social media should not be regarded as an independent entity that functions alone. Altogether, it is necessary to understand that the role of social media is determined relative and retrospectively in the context of communication and information practice.

Meanwhile, by using Buddhist terminology, it can be said that sociomaterial view will rely not on inga/因果 (cause and effect relationship) but on idea of engi/縁起 (dependent co-arising). Engi (“pratiitya-samutpaada” in Sanskrit; “paTicca-samuppaada” in Pali) is one of the fundamental ideas in Buddhism, and its meaning is the idea that everything in this world will arise as an interwoven of relationships with others. In this idea, there is no assumption of the nature, essence or substance of things. Buddhist literature suggests that the nature of water depends on the situation the people are placed in. For the hungry, water is blessed. Some people imagine the fear of a water accident. At the site of the fire, the amount of quantity is important rather than quality. From the view point of engi, it is considered that the role of IS would be embedded in practice.

Although this section does not enumerate a lot of literature, the idea of Engi could be found in basis for many of the claims that have been proposed from the critical position on technological determinism (cf. Actor-Network Theory).

From the perspective of sociomateriality, it is understood that the development and utilization of information systems are inseparably inseparable. This is an important feature in the sociomaterial view. Generally, planning and practice can be considered as a stepwise relationship. However, from a sociomaterial view, the plan is rebuilt in execution.

Triple media marketing as a constellation

Next, the meaning of the medium called social media is considered. Then, from a social perspective, the significance of social media in marketing will be considered as a constellation built in the universe that surrounds the marketing approach. In other words, it is considered that social media is utilized in the marketing approach and, at the same time, social media marketing reorganizes the whole marketing approach.

Of course, SNS may be used as a tool for coupon distribution or flash marketing. In this case, the relationship with the media or paid media may be weak. Therefore, it can be said that the significance of social media is embedded in individual circumstances.

To take a simple example, there are companies that appropriately use social media[7]. In this company, which is a small and medium enterprise that is difficult to use paid media, social media is used differently as follows; Facebook, which is a real name community, announces events; Twitter that is strong in real time has direct communication with customers; In our own blog, which is an owned media, they provide detailed information such as events; In January 2016 when we interviewed, the person in charge of the company said that he began trial use of Instagram.

In this company, when Twitter began to draw attention, it was sought to exploit it. As the result, Twitter came to be used as a means of communicating directly with customers. The company replied to the post content of the user as follows; “I started using products”,

“I am embarrassed now, what to do?”, “Great success!”, and so on. The customer was puzzled at first, most of whom received reply favorably. Then, trial and error has been repeated for the use of an owned media and another social media, e.g., Facebook, Line, and so on.

Our interview with the company suggests that (1) the media selection is performed depending on the message to be conveyed, (2) in addition, at the same time, social media generates concrete contents of message and reorganizes media utilization method. In other words, it was initiated that the utilization that was not originally. It is understood that a constellation in media marketing was organized.

The degree of complexity of the media constellation

From a sociomaterial view, it is pointed out that the importance of constellation formation in triple media marketing. The constellation refers to the case where the relationship between the three media of owned, paid, and social media (moreover, each media also has multiple channels) is well integrated. Thus, for example, if social media is used only for coupon distribution or flash marketing, it can be assumed that no constellation is formed.

Besides, some people find it troublesome to have to repeatedly receive advertisements just by obtaining coupon once. In addition, some people reluctant to get some personal data, e.g., purchase history, action history, personal attribute (name, gender, age, mail address, etc.), social graph, and so on.

By contrast, if the constellation is well formed, the web marketing space will be transformed into a customer community supported by specific value, and so the implications for personal data submission will differ. It seems that some customers will be willing to provide personal information favorably for satisfying their needs (or solving the problem you are having.) Therefore, it is considered that the nature of the privacy issue will be depend on the degree of complexity of the constellation. As the result, the classification axis of degree of complexity of the constellation is found.

Taxonomy of Privacy Issues on the Social Media Marketing

Two dichotomies

As discussed above, two dichotomies were proposed as a clue to typify privacy issues in social media marketing.

First axis is the extent to which customer’s need for social approval and self-esteem is satisfied, e.g., individually corresponded, preferential treatment, praised and so on. In other words, it is the extent to which individual correspondence that is based on personal identification.

Of course, a real name does not need in personal identification. A pseudonym is enough. Rather, the real name may be an obstacle to satisfying the desire of self-approval. Because participation in diverse web communities may cause schizophrenia (Kiyoshi & Orito, 2012). Therefore, pseudonyms that can distinguish identities by web community are useful. Furthermore, even with praise by pseudonyms, it can be imagined that customer satisfaction is high. It is because there is a high possibility that close friends know his pseudonym. In addition, it is considered that customers would like to provide personal data so that to obtain high self-approval. In such a situation, the relationship of reciprocity would be built.

On the other hand, if the degree of satisfying self-approval needs is low, the degree to which anonymity is directed will be high. For example, in the case of coupon distribution via social media or media, it is thought that it satisfies economic satisfaction rather than self-approval. The customer can obtain various discount coupons instead of providing personal data. In this case, the customer data is used as a consideration for the coupon. Therefore, it takes on the nature of spot trading.

Second axis is the degree of complexity of the constellation. In other words, it is the degree of consistency of values in various triple media.

Then, the significance of triple media will be confirmed again. First, an owned media means the official website of the company and smartphone apps. In such a media, often, personal information will be grasped by member registration. As the result, promotional information, such as the coupon will be sent to the individual addressed. Second, in the paid media, it will be grasped that web browsing history. Thereby, it will be performed measurements such as conversion rate.

Lastly, in the case of social media, it is a little more complicated. Usually, social media will be considered as the place of word-of-mouth communication. Therefore, it is considered that it is difficult to control and/or management the social media by companies. However, a direct marketing approach through the social media is possible. In some case (for example, flash marketing), the coupon will be distributed. These are the marketing activities to be carried out through the official Twitter and Facebook companies. On the other hand, it is also possible to reach out to customers of Twitter and Facebook account. Companies can find the customer’s account by performing ego-searching. Thus, it is possible to talk directly to the customer’s account. Such interactivity is characteristic of social media.

For social media, basically, like the owned media, it is important to explicate privacy policy. In fact, companies account in social media can be said to be the same as owned media. However, it is a difference among them, of course. It will allow to provide information by limiting the time and space, to communicate to the customer directly and interactively, and so on. For example, through social media, companies can send a “thank you message” and/or appreciation directly to the customer and/or can directly sends answers to the complaint or claim of customer. However, against the claim that could to burst into flames, rather than directly, indirect corresponding would be better. In other words, corresponding is important in accordance with the content and context that the customer has offered.

Naturally, it is considered that the complexity of the privacy issue varies depending on the degree of integration of these triple media.

Four types of privacy issue

Combining two dichotomies produces four categories. They are as follows.

(a) High social approval and self-esteem and Low complexity of the constellation.

It is a case where communicates directly with customers and social media utilization is independent of another media. Significance of social media is emerging through the practice of communication acts.

If communication is taken in a way that satisfies the desire of customers’ approval, privacy problems are unlikely to occur. However, when considering the use of other media, it is necessary to establish consistency with existing media. Otherwise there is a danger of falling into cannibalism.

(b) High social approval and self-esteem and High complexity of the constellation.

The unification of value among plural media communication is planned, and it is the case which satisfies the self-esteem of the customer.

In this case, it is expected that the customer who resonate in value would like to solicit their friends. Therefore, the privacy issue will be unlikely to occur in this case.

(c) Low social approval and self-esteem and High complexity of the constellation.

This is a case that the degree of integration of multiple media communications is high, while emphasis is placed on the customer’s economic satisfaction. In other words, it is a method of providing promotion advertisement on various media. Emphasizing economic efficiency, services such as discount coupons will be the main approach to customer. Furthermore, using multiple media makes it easier to grasp the customer attributes, but on the other hand, it can give a persistent sales promotion impression. However, it is the most satisfactory case for customers who would like to provide the personal data as a consideration for the discount coupon

(d) Low social approval and self-esteem and Low complexity of the constellation.

It is a case of using social media to appeal economic value. In other words, it is a case where sales promotion activities are done in a manner not related to another media. In this case, personal data is understood as consideration for discount coupons. Therefore, customers are more likely to adopt the idea of self-information control right. In addition, there is a need to respond to the right to forget.


Recently, as generally pointed out, many customer lost interest in advertisement. Thus, the importance of marketing communication with consumer is increasing more and more. Social media marketing is expected as an important means of customer communication. However, there is a risk of causing privacy issues in communication with customers. Therefore, it seems meaningful that trying to classify privacy issues. Incidentally, further consideration will be needed to yield any findings about our framework.


This work was supported by the following grants:

-Japan Society for the Promotion of Science KAKENHI

Grant Numbers JP26380458, JP26380550, 16H03663


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  1. e.g., Identification by face, fingerprint and further iris by image processing technology, identification by registration information at the sales site, and linking of different databases by common code, etc.
  2. Sakamoto naming the record of private life built in information space as data double. cf. (Sakamoto, 2009).
  3. Particularly, when using multiple social media, it is thought that individuals can easily identify by combining posted contents of each media. To take a simple example, identifying an individual seems to invite privacy violations (I heard it from my students.)
  4. Wanda J. Orlikowski, and Susan V. Scott. op. cit.
  5. cf., (Giddens, 1984).
  6. cf., (Latour, 2005).
  7. We interviewed media marketers in this company on January 15, 2016.
Cite this article as: and , "On the Taxonomy of Social Media Marketing," in Orbit, 05/06/2017, https://www.orbit-rri.org/volume-one/issue-1/taxonomy-social-media-marketing/.
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