The Convergence of Search and Social Part 4 – ZMOT

Consumer Behavior - ZMOT - small

Some consider ZMOT the full convergence of search and social, but I feel like it’s just part of it. It defines the new set of actions that are taking place when consumers buy a product. ZMOT is where people search the web for that accessible, quality content you and others have created and then use social channels for either more research and opinions or for sharing the content they find (or even the purchases they make).

Looking at the ZMOT model above it’s pretty easy to see where your search and social activities will be concentrating. This is of course just an example, for your own business you will need to build your own ZMOT model by determining the “who, what, where, when, why and how” of your customer base. Once you have your own ZMOT model built you’ll know where to concentrate different areas of your search and social efforts. Just keep in mind that Stimulus and Shelf can also play into your search and social strategies.



Your search and social strategies can and should play into this part of the ZMOT process. By creating compelling content (purchase or product oriented) and sharing it with your, hopefully ever growing, social community you can be the stimulus that gets people thinking about your products or services. Stimulus can be anything from someone seeing that their friend liked a post on your page, to you coming up in the search results for a specific keyword. Be sure to focus some of your search and social efforts on being the stimulus.


The shelf can be either a physical shelf (brick and mortar store) or a digital shelf (ecommerce), but either way the concept is the same and you have an opportunity to expand both your search and your social presence. For example, let’s say you’re a makeup manufacturer. As part of your search and social you could produce a collection of “How To” or “Tips and Tricks” videos using your products that you add to weekly. On all of your product boxes you could include the YouTube logo and “For great tips and tricks with this and other Makeup Inc. products visit us on YouTube”.

As people visit the videos, watch them, and share them you’re going to gain some earned and owned media impressions. If the videos are really good then bloggers might pick them up and post them to their own sites and get your videos in front of their audience. If the videos are optimized and they become popular then they might start showing up in the SERPs for specific keywords and giving you even more SERP coverage.


As I mentioned above your ZMOT model will change depending on what you discover about your own audience. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some general rules that apply to current customer behavior in both the new ZMOT and previous FMOT models. Take a look at the image below to see what I mean.


Looking at what the majority of users in the ZMOT model are doing when considering a purchase, it’s pretty easy to see the areas you would want to focus on first with your search and social efforts. But remember, even though these stats paint a nice little road map you’re still going to need to do a fair amount of research. You’ll need to know what search terms they are using, where they are talking to friends and family (online, offline, what social networks they’re using, etc.), what comparison sites they’re using, what websites they’re visiting, where they are reading reviews, what blogs are they reading, etc.

If you know all of this information about your customers then you can easily build your own ZMOT model. Once you have your own ZMOT model it should then be rather easy to see what your search and social program needs to look like and how they can work together from stimulus to shelf.

Next week I’ll be going over paid (online) media’s place in search and social in part 5 and then wrap it all up with some sample strategies in part 6 so stay tuned and thanks for reading.

Josh S Peters

  1. The Convergence of Search and Social Part 1
  2. The Convergence of Search and Social Part 2 – Social Media
  3. The Convergence of Search and Social Part 3 – SEO
  4. The Convergence of Search and Social Part 4 – ZMOT
  5. The Convergence of Search and Social Part 5 – Paid Media’s Place
  6. The Convergence of Search and Social Part 6 – Content
  7. The Convergence of Search and Social Part 7 – A Strategy Framework

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