Using Social Media vs. Using a Social Media Strategy

I was on a call the other day with Dan Green and he made a statement that made me laugh and then sigh. He said “you know, today everything thinks they are a social media expert.” What I thought was going to follow was a statement about how I was one of those people (this was our first interaction). Instead he continued, “…but you understand the strategy and that’s what it takes to be successful.” Over conversation shifted and we began discussing how students, marketers and even some self-proclaimed social media experts just don’t get it. They [social media expert impersonators] think you need to use all the social networks possible at one time to blast your message, need to constantly promote formally and in accordance with a corporate image, and/or to be the first to land in each space…and that is not necessarily the case.

Using social media means engaging with your target audience through thoughtful channels and sending the messages that make the most sense. To do this, you must decide which channels are going to be most effective and then use them effectively! And as I always say, you can’t just be in the space, you have to be active in the space and meaningful to be effective. This might mean that your company will not benefit from a Facebook page as much as it will from a Twitter page…so you shift your priorities and focus. Or maybe the messages you send to your Twitter audience are different than those you send through MySpace.

A question that I constantly encounter is “How can I use Facebook [or insert another social media outlet]?”. The question I would rather hear is “How can I use social media for MY business?” and that is where I can step in and know this client is looking for a strategy and not just implementing tactics without guidance.

Now don’t get me wrong. Sometimes you just have to jump into a space, test the waters and make a splash. Then you have to evaluate the splash and see where it went, how quickly it rippled and how quickly it died (if it does) then revisit and craft the strategy. What I love about social media is that it is constantly changing and maybe what worked six months ago isn’t working today and marketing efforts need to be shifted. Or maybe a new angle has come about and the company can benefit from the use of a new channel. Nothing is set in stone.

There is always…. something creative coming down the pipes and endless opportunities.


5 responses to “Using Social Media vs. Using a Social Media Strategy

  1. I agree. I tell my clients that I can develop the best strategy and plan for them, but it is they who need to be active in the space – engaging their audience with conversation and also LISTENING to them – in order to have a successful social media campaign.

    As their strategist, I can help guide them on the best channels, messaging, and response. But ultimately they need to be the voice of their company. I’m just a hired hand, not a full-time brand ambassador.

    • Good point, Marilyn…and I love that you highlighted “listening.” That is something that cannot be stressed enough.

  2. Interesting that you had that initial thought. As we spoke what I was impressed with, among many things, was how strategic and specific you were in your approach to campaigns.

    Instead of broad-based “let’s make sure we use all the toys” activity, you had very specific reasons for doing everything you did, along with some measurements in mind before going in.

    And all activity was in alignment with your client’s overall business objectives. This is one of the reasons you’ll continue to be successful regardless of the change in tactics.

    Be careful-you could give social marketers a good name!

  3. Right on. Like everything else in business we need to make sure that we follow some good rules:
    – Purpose
    – Objective
    – Assessment
    – Strategy
    – Execution
    – Reporting
    Interestingly enough only after we know the purpose, have an objective, made our assessment and developed a strategy we can actually make a meaningful decision what tools we use, what communities and places we engage with. Only then we can execute professionally and obviously start using reporting tools to measure progress and success.

    Too often I hear LinkedIn is good for business, Facebook for private and MySpace for the kids. WRONG. Choose the tool where your CUSTOMERS are. Engage there. If you sell Icecream – Myspace and Facebook might be the right place – hence do a thorough assessment before you make that decision.


  4. It’s the same as with “integrated marketing”. People still thing it’s about TV, Print, Radio, etc. It’s all about where your customers are and where YOU WANT to be. It always is simple. Know what where you are. (A) Know where you want to be. (C). Choose the right way to get there (most often called B).

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