Marketer extraordinaire Lee Odden sent me an email the other day asking my opinion on the question - Does social strategy need to come before tactics? It was an appeal that went out to any number of folks that write about this kind of stuff.
I pondered the question for a moment and found myself thinking - well, really this is a trick question, but then I put it aside.
Lee's impressive roster of responses and very tweetable post - Social Media Strategy Before Tactics is a very worthwhile read.
Because I didn't get around to responding I get the benefit of reading what most of the responses contained before crafting my own, but I certainly found myself compelled to write this after a read of the post. (In fact, the rest of this post won't make much sense without checking our Lee's post first.)
As I guessed would be the case, all but a few of the many responses said about the same thing - strategy must come first, it's like a destination without a map, building a house with no blueprint, wandering in the dark without a light, blah, blah, blah.
Of course you should have a strategy before you employ any tactic, I don't care what the subject social media or horseshoes, but this same warmed over line being put there by every marketer charged with taking up the social banner isn't helping anyone.
Before you start to assume I'm taking pot shots out of context let me say two things - I'm as guilty as anyone of falling into this trap, I know most of the people in the post and know they are very smart folks who have tons to add to the total body of this work. All I'm saying is that if we keep telling people they need strategy, but can't tell them how to get one, we may do more harm than good.
See, here's what I've discovered over the years of working with small business. Most strategy is guessing and while you need to start there, your strategy isn't worth much until you get out there and throw some tactics at it, listen to the real world and and then change your strategy to meet reality. If you sit around trying to create reality in your garage you'll never be right.
There is no real linear approach to this stuff except in blog posts and keynote presentation. In my experience there is no way to create a social media strategy that's more than a guess without tactical experimentation - so, I say get out there and do something.
Don't let strategy, or your lack of a clear one today, stop you from biting off some tactic to throw into the stew. Strategy, the kind that disrupts entire industries, changes brands and informs cultures, is messy, messy stuff to create.
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