Why?! Do You Have 'Why' in Your Social Media Plan?

Jillian Ney
Dr Jillian Ney Social Media Insight and Intelligence Consultant, Disruptive Insight

Posted on January 9th 2012

Why?! Do You Have 'Why' in Your Social Media Plan?

Why is a great question, do you not think?  I like why.  I explore why.  I believe that to understand the behaviour is to harness the behaviour effectively.  This is especially true in social media. 

The problem with social media is that not many people explore the why, the behavioural aspect.  How, what, where and when are more commonly explored.  How should I approach social media?  What content should I post?  Where should I post the content?  When should I post the content?

In general and for business social media has been popularised by our behaviours and interactions, as individuals.  They hype has been created because we use social media to communicate, for information search, for pleasure, to promote our personals brands, and now to friend brands and for business.

It makes sense to understand the behaviours, the why.  It is the behaviours that got us here in the first place.  I believe that by understanding they why we can harness the how, where, what and when more effectively. 

Think back to when you were a child, what was the question you asked the most?  Why?  Granted it can be terribly annoying when children get to the why stage but that is how they learn.  I think if we take a step back and explore the why, as we did as children, we can not only better understand the social media phenomenon but where our professional social media strategies can add value and not just add more noise.


I’ve been researching social media for a long time now and I have noticed more steps to properly integrate social media into business.  I’ve been playing around with this blog for a couple of week and today I noticed Brian Friedman’s blog ‘Build Your Social Media Schedule for 2012’ which begins with questioning why?  I love this.  I’m pleased to see I’m not the only person questioning why and the run of comments suggest that why gradually being explored in the social media community.

However I’m still hearing about ‘experts’ advising clients to pursue social media because they can’t afford not to be, that’s where there customers are… You know the kind of thing I’m talking about!  I definitely see a difference between social media in Scotland and even London to over to the States.  Maybe this is not so frequent where you are but it is still a massive issue here.

Every business is unique.  The social media strategy and integration should be bespoke to that business.  The why question reaches to that uniqueness and then sets about a series of questioning to further drill down into how the company or brand can develop their unique voice and add value to their current offerings. 

For example…

  • Why do you want to purse a social media strategy?
  • Why are we integrating a social media strategy?
  • Why are we using this specific media?
  • Why are we not considering other media?
  • Why are we posting this particular content?
  • Why would/do our customers want to engage with us?
  • Why would a particular person/department be responsible for social media?

Don’t fall into the trap of copying your competitors.  Be aware of what they are doing but you don’t know how strategically they have developed their social media plan. 

The other questions of how, where and when can be answered with understanding the why.  Start with why, do some research and be realistic with objectives. 

People are often disappointed with the rate of their social media success but if they understood the why of social media perhaps they could be more realistic about expectations.  Next time you use a social media consultant or agency ask them why you should be pursuing a social media strategy, why you are in those particular media… Just ask why.  If they cannot answer the question to your satisfaction or seem perplexed run a mile, they are not the ‘experts’ you think they are.

Jillian Ney

Dr Jillian Ney

Social Media Insight and Intelligence Consultant, Disruptive Insight

Dr Jillian is the first Dr of Social Media.  She is CEO of Disruptive Insight, a social intelligence consultancy who specialise in transforming digital noise into valuable insight for business.  Dr Jillian is also a visiting academic at the University of Strathclyde where she lectures on digital marketing and social media.

Dr Jillian's PhD research explored social consumer behaviour during an active purchase decision and how credibility of social content is determined.  As a result she has expert knowledge in the role social media plays during purchase decisions and in play, she can also accurately predict what content will hold increased influence in persuasion.

After her PhD, Dr Jillian developed cutting edge frameworks to segment and analyse social data for business.  Her input into the Yomego 'How to Value Social Advocacy' whitepaper has won her advocates in the digital marketing industry.  

Tired of the 'social media campaign' culture Dr Jillian, decided to create a consultancy that reflected her personal values and social media ethos.  After a chance encounter where a Glasgow taxi driver ridiculed Dr Jillian about her choice of career, she decided to maker her mission in life to increase the credibility and accountability of social media and emerging technologies in business. 

Jillian’s key goal is to use data led and behavioural insight to help businesses create shared value and exceptional experiences with their customers.

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Posted on January 9th 2012 at 8:50AM

Thanks for the post Jillian.  I think why is such an important question to ask not only with social media, but with all planning.  Because of the trendiness of social, though, it's extremely important.  When I'm working with clients to build a social media plan, why helps them choose the platform to focus on, rather than a spread out approach that isn't effective.  I personally use why as I develop my programs for the year as well.  It helps me focus on delivering quality information rather than just reacting to the latest request.

Posted on January 9th 2012 at 10:34AM

Such a great post! As Lifesimplified said, we also like to start off with 'why' when working with our clients. It becomes evident to them as we go through a process.

Posted on January 9th 2012 at 1:11PM

Good job Jillian--Why IS the million dollar question.

Posted on January 9th 2012 at 1:41PM

Jillian, thanks for posting this. I especially appreciated the list of specific "Why" questions people should be asking themselves. Great work!

Posted on January 9th 2012 at 3:37PM

Hi, great post.

It is really funny because the question why is important because most of the world has not caught up with social media being used as a viable business and social media tool.  I'm a young professional, so it's important for me and other professionals who are under 40 years old to understand that there are people who have been doing things one way for their 20 and year 30 careers.  Of course they are going to ask why social media "all of a sudden" is the only way to market your company!

I'm sure it sounds obsurd to them.  So, it is important to be able to not only explain why social media is important, but what it is, and where it came from.

.jordannah elizabeth


Jillian Ney
Posted on January 10th 2012 at 2:07PM

Thanks for all your comments! I love asking people the question 'why' - I does get me into trouble sometimes and it's not really nice seeing someone squirm when they can't answer...

Loving all the comments and seeing that you do question and address 'why'.

Thanks :)