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What The Heck Is A Social Strategy?

April 11, 2012

We are inspired to blog about topics we encounter every day in our work.  As is often the case, the catalyst for a given post  can be another blogpost (or posts) that helps to both connect some dots for us AND motivate us to share our perspective.   This post, “You need a business strategy, not a social strategy“, was such a motivator.

The post hit a nerve.  As the title suggests, we both encounter and hear about too many New Market Entrepreneurs attempting to adopt something “Social” without stopping to think about the bigger picture.   The “something social” goal might be a strategy or a series of tactics misconstrued as strategy.   It doesn’t matter.  Social is not a strategy.  It is a tactic.

The point is that “social” at its very most can only affect a small portion of the functional areas the must be informed by strategy to successfully execute your business plan.  On the LaunchPad website we depict these functional disciplines and the guiding role strategy plays with the graphic below:

While the graphic is intended to depict where we usually fit (purple), it serves a higher calling for post to illustrate business “Cannon Law” that Corporate Strategy must inform everything.   As regular readers of this blog are well familiar, we are BIG believers in the power of Social as a regular player in at least 3 of the 8 functional areas above (click for prior related posts).

So we get it.  Social is huge in many ways.   However,it is still just a tactic.  If you find yourself going off in a half-baked quest to ‘get social’, think real hard about how it fits into the overall picture.   Executing your ideas tactically without thinking of the bigger picture and your overall business ecosystem will likely not bring you optimal results.   Social is a tool to achieve your overall business strategy and goals.  Not the other way around.

To bring it home, here are some excellent insights from the above post:

While social tools and initiatives have been around for good bit of time, questions consistently arise around integrating social into marketing and operational efforts.    The Pragmatic Marketing Social Media survey from November 2011 validates this reality when implementing social with 32%% of respondents having no policy or are unaware of a company’s policies and only 1/3 of organizations have processes for addressing social interactions.

With the general ambiguity around policies and processes, social is still an open area for many marketers and organizations of all sizes and in all sectors.

Leverage Social to Achieve Business Goals

Start with the business.  The anchor for all social efforts should be the business and goals set forth.

To that end, how can an organization use social tactics to drive business benefits.    Depending on the business priorities, you may want to focus on different activities.  For example – improved service might require one set of tools and resources and changing perceptions and creating awareness another set of tools, tactics and resources.

Since I first looked at social media as a transactional platform it was clear that participating in communities, engaging your market and the overall process improvements present a great opportunities throughout the business (marketing, support, sales, education, fulfillment….).   So with this immense opportunity easily recognized through the business, social projects continue to be a key priority for 2012 and beyond for marketers, product types and operational teams -where do you start?

Be a Better Business

Jay Baer brought this post to the forefront of my thinking again with a post that challenged the concept in total of a developing a social media strategy, but I’m not sure he went far enough.  Nevertheless, he was willing to state:

The goal is not to be good at social media. The goal is to be good at business because of social media.

A pretty strong statement, it should be the spirit in which all social options are evaluated.


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