This topic is top of mind after a discussion I had the other day with colleagues. Many times in organizations internal stakeholders discuss tactics rather than strategies. Who is going to post this to Facebook? We should tweet this out from the corporate versus the product handle. This is a waste of energy for one simple reason: without a comprehensive, clear objective your tactics will never substitute a strategy.
I run into this often in my current role. Many folks want to change the conversation from “what’s the ultimate goal of using social media” to “I think we should be on Pinterest?” Bad move. Without a clear goal on why you want to use social media, whether it is to increase brand awareness, client engagement, or decrease customer support inquiries you will never get beyond tactical conversation that yield boo. Yeah, I said boo. This is a circular conversation that is like a rocking chair. Everyone feels great that they are “accomplishing a task,” but it is going nowhere.
How can you change the tide to be more productive?
1) Figure out whether your social efforts will be driven by product or brand. Both have plusses and minuses. Personally, I think brand should be running the social media show in order to ensure one voice, one message. Doesn’t mean brand is the only stakeholder, but whomever in your group/ organizations manages the company’s message should be the ringleader. Then involve stakeholders throughout the organization: sales, services, HR, your senior leaders, and most importantly employees. In other words, what people do you plan to use in order to implement your social media attack plan.
2) Write down your objectives. Please. How can you be “successfully” running or maintain social media without planning out what you plan to achieve? Without a plan you are just “posting” or “tweeting” for the sake of doing it. Pointless and will not yield anything other than you feel good about yourself. Hi-five for you.
3) Once you have objectives, wait for the dirty word, what “Strategy” will you implement. By definition the word strategy (I used Wikipedia), is a plan of action designed to achieve a specific goal. Strategy is all about gaining (or being prepared to gain) a position of advantage over adversaries or best exploiting emerging possibilities. There is it is kids, a plan. Just because you are posting to Facebook or using Twitter doesn’t mean you have a social media strategy. Don’t embarrass yourself by thinking otherwise.
4) After the groundwork is built, then you figure out where your audience is. Are they on Twitter? Facebook? Pinterest. If so then how many? Is it worth your effort to reach this audience?
5) Now that you did this amazing work, how will you measure it? For me, I measured our work based on metrics tied to awareness (transactional data, i.e. followership), engagement (social shares, website traffic, time on site) and alignment (with corporate and department goals). I had monthly reports on this and then completed six-month report to our senior folks.
Overall, changing from tactic is more than words. It’s about establishing your business as a social business, not just a social brand. It’s about the action, but about the thought and reason why you are participating in social media. In order to build a social business there must be buy-in at both the employee and senior leader. More to come on building a social business, not just brand.