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What’s Your Social Media Strategy?

It’s a simple question really: “What’s your social media strategy?” And I ask people all of the time.  I’m a little surprised at the deer in the headlights looks or deafening silence on the conference call as a response.

A deer in the Headlights

Too often we’re trapped in the tactics and we forget the strategy element of what we’re trying trying to achieve.  So I thought I’d share some thoughts on the best social media strategies.

Typically social media strategies fall into the following categories:

  • Business:
    • Increase Sales – Driving revenue with social media.
    • Increase Brick and Mortar Traffic- Using social media to drive visitors to a venue.
    • Increase Web Traffic- Using social media to drive visitors to a website.
  • Connections:
    • Raise Brand Awareness- Cause the audience to be exposed to your brand promise via social media.
    • Manage Brand Reputation- To monitor and respond to questions and challenges to the brand perception in the market.
    • Promote Word of  Mouth- To engage with the brand advocates and influencers and activate them to spread the word of your brand.

It’s seems that those in the first group, Business expect results sooner.  Dollars and traffic are easy to measure and most businesses can see a result or lack of one fairly quickly.  Business oriented social strategies seem to fail more often and more quickly than those in the Connections group.    Is this because social media doesn’t return measurable hard dollar ROI for companies?  Or is it because social media is inherently more suited to softer objectives, rather than hard dollar goals?

We’ve all heard that social media is like a cocktail party, and that it’s not the place for a hard sell.  The question is can social media managers execute a soft sell approach with a strategic goal like those in the Business section?  I think that for many managers it’s a very difficult thing to do.  Most will not be able to resist the temptations and pressures associated with chasing these hard metrics.  In pursuit of the hard numbers (more people on the website, in the stores, or buying things) the marketing mangers will resort to harder and harder tactics in social media. These are the very tactics that are most poorly received in the soft sell world of word of mouth.  Therefore, these managers will ultimately fail because they are pursuing a poor strategy which is not well suited to social media.

Conversely, managers with objectives such as increase word of mouth, or raise brand awareness are well suited to a natural discussion.  These managers can engage with a tactical advantage over their competitors who are pursuing dollars because they are there to converse, not sell.  These conversations are certain to lead to sales in the long run but it will take more time.

In my opinion social media is about building relationships with your audience.  It takes time and patience to build relationships.  If you don’t believe me, try asking the boy/girl to marry you after the first date.  It never works.  As does asking your social media audience to do something for you, or buy your product if you’ve not built a relationship with them first.

In my mind, the most successful social media strategies target the Connections first and then seek to activate these relationships to achieve business goals.  Give me 1 good reason why you should pursue Business before Connecting with your customer?

Join The Conversation

  • Jul 5 Posted 5 years ago CoreyBuller

    Great post Chris. I think these concepts are especially important for small businesses when they embark on this endeavor, whether by themselves or through a consultant or agency. If the strategic planning step doesn't take place before anything else, company's could be wasting their money on a plan that won't produce results in the end anyways.

  • Jun 21 Posted 5 years ago angela_vmg

    Nice article Chris, all good stuff here.  Now that most brands/business have ventured into Facebook and Twitter marketing, we've found that YouTube video content is the next step.  Newly released advertising tools and enhancements have helped increase video targeting and click-to-actions in the range of 4-8%.

    Since 2011, YouTube viewing has risen 58% year over year and has become the #2 searched term on Google.

    Angela Newell
    VMG Cinematic

  • Jun 20 Posted 5 years ago mgwilson

    Great article ... working in mostly non-profit and public sector positions, relationships are especially key to both raising our brand and eventually, gaining donors. Sometimes I think people forget that just because you are connecting online doesn't mean that you can skip the time and care necessary to nurture those relationships, just as you would if they were in person.

  • ckieff's picture
    Jun 18 Posted 5 years ago ckieff

    Thanks for the comment Jeff. We're in agreement here.  It's a very difficult task for most marketers to resist the pressures and tempatations of push marketing to be successful in social.  We can only hope that the examples of failure will demonstrate how to succeed.

  • Jeff Scherer's picture
    Jun 18 Posted 5 years ago teletraxx


    I think you're right on when you point out that Business definitely expects results sooner. Most marketers are typically bred to see instant results from any vehicle that has "web" attached to it. Can't fault them for that thinking, but as you also point out, the execution and expectations are often wrong. If compaines did review the goals you present on your short list before paying their nephew to fire up a FB page, they might understand this particular medium better.

    It does take patience (and a long-term commitment) to really get anything out of SM. It is very interesting to note that due to budget hacks in a turbulent marketplace, many companies have moved away from soft marketing and brand advertising. The bean counters want to see more immedate and tangible results before they sign off on anything now. Again, you cannot say this is an unreasonable view, but it does somewhat fly in the face of a SM strategy that is more akin to putty than concrete.  

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