Strategy & Marketing

What Exactly is a “Social Media Strategy”? (Or any other kind of strategy for that matter…)

I had a great question in response to my blog poll yesterday on “Does Your Organization Have a Social Media Strategy?”  The question was:  “What does a social media strategy look like?  We use all the social media mediums in our church, and try to use them effectively – sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t – but what would be the first step in creating a social media strategy?” We should start with the the big question: 

“What is strategy?”  The word “strategy” came into the English language around 1810, and by contrast, “tactics” came into use 200 years earlier.  People had discussed “tactics,” but it wasn’t until 1810 that Carl Von Clausewitz began using it in battle.   It began with 3 basic steps:  1)  Figure out where you are (Point A).  2)  Decide where you want to be (Point B).  And 3) create a plan to get from A to B.

It’s incredibly simple, but it’s surprising how few people – particularly in media actually take the time to consider those steps and come up with the best solution.  If you’re involved in communicating a message, then you need to understand how it works.  So it simply means having a plan about what exactly you want to accomplish, how you intend to make it happen, and how you measure the results.  It’s not about random Tweeting, or posting Facebook messages.  When it comes to first steps, I asked Brian Boyd of Media Connect Partners what he’d recommend.  He replied:

“Step back and evaluate your goals. (Your organization’s goals and/or your marketing goals.)   An effective social media strategy starts with mapping your tactics to those goals”

I’ll write more in 2011 on social media, but for now, Brian’s exactly right.  Start with a goal – what you want to accomplish.  The old saying is right, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never know when you arrive.”

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  1. A lot of organizations have not mastered the original “strategy” with traditional media. A lot can go wrong here with the new.
    Thanks Phil for waving the banner of common sense and what NOT to do.

  2. So many companies think that Social Media Strategy equates to “telling people what they sell.”

    Developing a Social Media strategy is akin to developing your Mission or Goals Statements. What do you do, why do you do it, what do you want people to know about you, why do people want to know this about you? Now…how do we use Social Media to get promote these goals?

    Had a client who had heard that Twitter was the new, cool thing, and had decided to focus solely on Twitter to tell people about their brand. They jumped in with both feet! They were going to be “hunter-gatherers,” simply putting basic info out there to gain numbers. They became disillusioned with this plan after slow growth and negative feedback.

    Our team helped them build a Social Media Strategy more inline with their Company’s mission and goal statements. They grew by leaps and bounds. They became enthralled with the interactions, and wanted to develop even more opportunities to interact with their fans. We were able to develop strategies to expand their reach.

    At its base, a strategy makes you stop and think and proceed forward in an organized fashion. You can always make adjustments as needed, but adjustments are always easier to make than full-scale retreats or re-branding.

  3. Phil – you touched on one point which deserves to be called out again – choose tactics which are measurable. When we work with clients to create social media tactics, we always make sure we can measure the success. The las thing anyone wants is the CFO of the organization asking, “What did we pay for?”

    Good blog Phil!

  4. Excellent topic – great advice. I think a lot of people not only feel a sense of technological disorientation with SM – there’s a real fear of loosing who they are. To gain a greater sense of identity and to execute that re-focused brand through what Erik Qualman (“Socialnomics”) calls “World of Mouth,” produces real time results.

    My own sense of disorientation comes from being schooled in traditional media – TV and radio. That can lead to being locked in a long form broadcast mode which unintentionally discourages interactivity. As one person on a recent post of yours said – “new tools require new thinking.” New thinking is tied to creating short form content which drives traffic and stimulates discussion.

    The greatest value of social media is user generated content – and to value that user’s content needs to be the primary mission for all of us. Apple computer is successful because they are completely focused on the experience of the end user – a strategy that has served them well …

  5. Looking forward to seeing your writing on this topic.

    One of the big hinderances I see with social media strategy in organizations is the challenge of figuring out which metrics are important not just if they are measuarble. Without the right metrics, you might have a “strategy”, but you can still be aiming in the dark.

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