With all the talk about Twitter’s $1 billion valuation and the news that time spent social networking as nearly tripled from last year, companies, pundits and experts are shouting louder than ever for a need to build strategy around social media.
Here’s the problem with that: social media activities should map to business strategy.
Social Media is Just another Channel
Do you want a social media strategy? Show me your broadcast media strategy first. Then your print strategy. Why not your long-lead magazine strategy. What? You don’t have strategies for each medium? You say they are part of a larger media strategy and you tailor your message to fit the medium. Social Media is no different. It’s just another way to get your message out to your audiences.
Checkers not Chess
If you do a google image search for strategy, you’ll get a dozen or so images of a chess board. Chess is a great analogy for strategy because the current move impacts a move 4 turns later. However, social media is a game of checkers. It’s a react and reaction game. Each move dictates the next move based on feedback from the community, insights learned from monitoring or how the community shifts its way of engagement (i.e., twitter, Facebook, online, mobile, etc.,) .
Message Strategy vs. Channel Strategy
I learned long ago in an interpersonal communications class that how something is said is just as important as what’s being said. After key messages have been clearly defined, the next goal is to understand what channels are available to get those messages across. Messages will have to be tailored to the appropriate channel. Need to reach a certain audience demographic? Understand what channels they engage in and create or play in that channel with a message that resonates. As a communicator, I find this to be the most challenging and fun aspect of social media. Having the opportunity to craft and repurpose a single message in so many different ways.
I’m not discounting the need to have strategy. Strategy is good. This post is a call for clarity in understanding where the effort has to be placed. If social media efforts aren’t tied to business strategy than it’s just noise.