I’ve learned a lot about social media strategy I think. I had a great chat with someone the other day that for the first time, sort of pulled all my thoughts about what Ive learned together into one place. Here’s where I got to.

Social Media is not a strategy

Saying that you want to ‘do’ social media is a little bit like saying you want to ‘do’ radio, or press or TV or some other media. Social media is literally that collection of technologically enabled platforms that have come to prominence over the last few years. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc. etc. There are, I’m sure, hundreds of them.

Simply being ‘on’ them isn’t enough anymore. businesses all over the world are finding out that this is a short cut to wasting money. Incidentally this has always been the case for people that have used the media bit without the strategy bit.

A few years back people would try a bit of press, or have a go on radio. It doesn’t work like that. And its the same with ‘social’ media. You’ll note the correct positioning of the quote marks there!

So where do I get my strategy from? 

As with all marketing plans you start with your organisations objectives and work from there. Once you know what it is you want to achieve, you then need to consider the best type of plan to achieve it. If its a communication plan of some sort, then its quite likely that social media might be indicated.

Thats deliberately written the way a doctor might write it. ‘Indicated”. As in, part of the diagnosis that leads to the cure for the problem. Thats what all marketing strategies should be.

social steve

Steve Goldner

One of my favourite social media bloggers is a guy called Steve Goldner. Steve is nicknamed social Steve and is a real leading in social media thought. This recent post he wrote sums up the sort of ideas I am talking about here.

Steve says there are 3 stages to social media (in the sense of the discussion here)

Social Media 

Social Marketing 

Social Business 

I really like the simplicity of the thinking involved in this. And the structure it enables. We need to understand the best media to use for our organisations. We need to use them for what they are good at. Listening and having conversations with our clients, NOT broadcasting to people as we have always done.

But we also need to understand what our customers are saying. Where they are, and how best to have those conversations. We need to use this knowledge to shape our very businesses. This is social marketing.

Social Marketing MUST be considered, have objectives and provide you with results.

A social business is at the sort of pinacle of the whole approach to this stuff. Becoming social as a business is an enormous undertaking for an organisation to set out on. And I am not sure Ive ever seen one succeed.

Don’t get me wrong – I think there are plenty of social businesses out there, but I am not sure an un-social one has ever managed to become social?

Here’s the plan 

Talking of social media ‘guru’s’ If you want to seek inspiration from someone that knows what they are doing in this


Mark at the Oiconf last year (Photo credit: Sarah-hoss)

space, look no further than Mark Schaefer. Mark is unique in social media circles I think, in that he was an accomplished and global marketer BEFORE embarking on a career in this exciting new area.

Mark details as good a social media plan as any I have ever come across in his seminal book The Tao of Twitter.

1. Targeted Followers – attracting the sorts of people you want to do business with, or at least are likely to do business with you

2. Content – Producing, in this case, a blog that is relevant, interesting, timely and entertaining content for your followers to not only consume, but most important of all, to share. Mark talks about ‘online influence’ in another great book which he sums up as the ability to move content.

3. Authentic Helpfulness – An idea Mark has identified as present in almost all social media success stories. Whether its brand like lego sending a little kid an impossible to get toy, or a blogger like Mark for instance, agreeing to come to Wales to appear in a social media conference for free!

In the book Mark offers far more detail on each of these ideas and I more than recommend you reading it for yourselves so that you can understand where he is coming from. But ultimately whats important here is the fact Mark approaches this often overwhelming topic in a calm understandable and methodic way. Making it easy for others to process these sometime overwhelming ideas.

Content is king

How many times have you heard that particular phrase? What does it mean? In the sense of a social media strategy its a way for you to engage with and have conversations with your clients and prospective clients. Its a way for you to build a community, and to encourage your brand’s advocates to share your messages throughout their personal networks.

It might be a way for you to educate your audience how to buy your product, while at the same time, through this act of helpfulness, positioning your company as the leaders in your field.

But there are other considerations. You might simply be interested in listening  Not only listening to what your clients are saying about you to each other, but also offering them a channel to communicate directly with you.

Or as an extension of this, you might simply be looking to  redeploy those ‘old fashioned’ PR objectives of out reach and initiation and direction of the conversation. Or any other type of interaction you can think of.

Whatever you come up with, you’ll have to start at the start. And thats the way its always been.

Who are you talking to?

What do you want them to do / the think / to know about you

Why should they do it

What are our customers saying about us? Whats good? Whats bad? And what can we do about it? As much as the new technology is exciting and the platforms entertaining, and seemingly very powerful, its still imperative to have a plan, and a way to understand whether you are getting what you should be for your efforts in this ‘social’ space.

Do you know what? Sometimes, with a little bit of thought, you may find you dont need to us it at all!

let me know what you think? What would you add to this discussion? As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments, or you can email me directly on [email protected]

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5 replies
  1. Tom De Baere (@tomdebaere)
    Tom De Baere (@tomdebaere) says:

    Realy good post Tony. All very relevant points.

    I would like to add one more: change management. For a lot of people in companies all of this is very new, strange, uncomfortable or unclear in terms of benefits. That’s why attention needs to be paid to education, evangelisation, process and lot’s of patience 😉

    Thanks for the post,

    Warm regards,

    Tom De Baere

  2. ET
    ET says:

    I requested membership of a very appropriate forum last week and had to wait a few days to be checked out. I was asked for further info before my request was sanctioned. This was good practice since the members all have something to share and learn and the content is targeted and informative. I had a warm welcome from a great community. I believe that such practice demonstrates credence rather than causing offence.

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