Allow me to express my very huge disappointment in some of the so many traditional brands that have been misled to thinking there is something called Social media strategy as a standalone strategy. I know if you are reading this article you are now confused why I claim there is no such a thing as social media strategy but content strategy.
First things first,
Some may see that there is no need for a social media strategy definition. Surely it’s obvious what it is!
Recently the marriage of SEO and social media has dazzled marketers with the consequential rise in content marketing. As a result the opportunities to use social media more strategically have taken second place or been lost.
There are three compelling reasons for using social media:
· Marketing – understanding customers, developing brand awareness and fit to customer acquisition.
· Employee Engagement – developing company culture, improving internal collaboration and recruiting talent.
· Collaboration – creating social spaces to collaborate with partners, suppliers and customers.
Unifying how social media fits to the overall business CONTENT STRATEGY is crucial to build and grow a business. Social media plays an unusual role in that it fuses together the building of a brand internally and externally. Internally it forms part of ‘the way we do businesses, which in itself forms and establishes the culture of a business. Externally, it is not only the outward communications mix, but the reactions and opinions to those communicating both good and/or bad: the conversations that determine brand reputation.
As a discipline social media crosses HR (recruitment), sales, marketing, customer service, suppliers and partner relationships and sets the tone of the culture within the business.
Fitting into the Overall Business Strategy:
The question “What is strategy?” has ignited hours of debate amongst academics and management thinkers alike. This perhaps is a good indicator of why there is no one single definition of strategy and why businesses struggle with it as a mystery thing to date. So producing a definition then for what is a social media strategy promises to be no less controversial. Let’s look at this
· Goals – the aims of the business, its purpose and what it wants to achieve.
· Strategy – defines how you will achieve your goals: the plan.
· Objectives – are the specific details and accompanying measures.
· Tactics – tactics are specific actions.
I doubt if there is one definition of a social media strategy that everyone could agree with, but let’s dig deeper and throw more light on this puzzling aspect of business.
The goal of this blog is to get businesses to look at the main principles of social media, step back from the hype (which is mostly marketing focused) and revisit what they could do to help fuel growth. In particular it is how businesses can collaborate together at a local level that has the potential for innovation. Together businesses can form beneficial alliances that could fulfill requirements that normally would go to larger businesses through a clear understanding of a business content strategy and social media strategy.
As a matter of fact we are now witnessing a second phase of social media where marketplaces facilitate people sharing resources and work e.g. Uber, telecommunications companies, beverage companies and many brands. This is a clear indication that in phase one power was concentrated to the brands themselves but in phase two it’s concentrated in the hands of individuals who are trusted and respected in society, many currently call them Influencers.
Building blocks for social media strategy:
Marketers reading this are probably already two steps ahead thinking about social media marketing plans, tactics and tools for the future.
A target audience is another way of describing the desire for a business to build relationships. It is relationships that brands desire not just transactions. Relationships create a sustainable business model and offer businesses life time value from customers.
It is useful to understand what makes up a business Content strategy (broad terms) so we can understand how a social media strategy then needs to work alongside this to achieve business goals.
If we dismantle a business strategy we can use it to piece together a social media strategy and look at the links between the two.
· Customers – profiling and targeting customers.
· Analysis – gathering and analyzing relevant information needed to make strategic decisions.
· Value – determining a competitive value proposition.
· Planning – the planning process – financials, risk assessment and strategic choices to achieve goals.
· Resources – skills, experience, headcount, capital, suppliers, partners…needed to achieve the plan.
· Objectives – the specific details to implement the plan and measure it.
For employees the culture of a business and how it is perceived on social media can play a huge part on talent acquisition (it’s not just about the money).
So what exactly is Social Media Strategy?
A social media strategy then must consider how social media can be used and if it is needed:
· for social communications internally and externally
· to harness value from collaborative relationships
· as a tool to manage and monitor brand reputation (internally and externally)
So the main difference is in how you develop relationships, what value they offer as a potential for your business and what resources you then need to use (including technology/tools). Relationships vary in value. If you for instance are looking to promote a new organic face cream as a product, you might target high profile women bloggers who have a large social following. If a blogger endorsed your product and was willing to promote it to their audience the value of this relationship would be significant.
A social media strategy defines the why do we want to do this?
Social media needs to consider the relationships the business needs to develop, the types of relationships (number of people, type, who, context, relevance…) and the communications processes. Because of the dispersed nature of these relationships the brand becomes part of the way of doing business. The standards, routines, culture and leadership cascade across real world communications by water coolers and equally across social networks. Governance then determines policies, guidelines, processes, and educational resources to guide your relationships and provide consistency for your brand.
I would therefore like to define in the following way;
A social media strategy defines the relationships, their value and sets out a plan to harness them to achieve a particular goal or set of goals.
This view of strategy sees a business as part of a wider set of networks that involve social interactions and levels of influence that then determine a business’s capabilities to access resources (e.g. talent, funding…) and organize these to achieve its goals.
· improve rate of innovation and new product development
· improve knowledge management (reduce duplication of work)
· gain crowd sourcing investment
· acquire customers
· to improve quality of talent applying for jobs
· to save costs on operations with suppliers
A NOTE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
So this all may seem as though it is purely focused on those businesses that can afford the time for big strategic plans that have lots of resources and people to play with.I have covered more than I initially intended in this blog post. But as the titles suggests it is thoughts on a social media strategy and Content Strategy definitions. I would like to know what you think about social media strategy and business content strategy, write your thoughts in the comment box.
By Mwebya Fred