Social Media for Business: Change needs a Strategy

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Anthony Young wrote a very interesting post in Adage recently titled: Social Media Is a Venue, Not a Strategy He said

Social media is a venue for marketers ... a set of technologies or tactics that enable us to elevate and amplify brands and their marketing communications.

The question shouldn't be, "What's our social-media strategy?" but, "What do I need to do to make my brand more social?" Or specifically for agency planners, "What can we do to make this TV work, print campaign or offer more social?"

 

On one had a I totally agree, social media are tools to help socialize business and brands. But on the other hand social media is new, most businesses don't have a clue how to use these new tools and what tactics they should be employing to get the best results for their business.

Marketing, communications and PR all have separate strategies that are, or should be integrated. These strategies help team members work to a cohesive plan, that's measurable etc. Sure Social Media could be just another chapter in your Marketing or Communications strategy and that's where it might fit in a few years time. But as executives learn these new tools and establish there place within their companies I strongly believe Social Media needs it's own strategy.

Young says

Take two high profile brands that have been particularly active in social media: Charlie Sheen and Ashton Kutcher. You could argue both essentially have the same strategy when it comes to social media. It goes something like this:

  • Get a following on Twitter.
  • Interact and engage directly with fans.
  • Create buzz and conversation.

Ok but how you get a following on Twitter for most brands is not like Ashton Kutcher or Charlie Sheen at all. 99.99% of brands simply cannot expect that when they create a Twitter profile and post one Tweet they will get a million followers, they have to earn it. The tactics and the approach they use to get a following on Twitter is apart of their Twitter strategy.

This is the same for interacting and engaging directly with fans. How a company does this needs planning, insights and thought, you can't just jump in and start going for it or you'll damage the brands reputation, it's far too risky when Twitter is deemed far to risky by many business leaders anyway.

Finally Young says:

Social media needs to be embedded into all parts of the marketing mix as part of a single, integrated brand effort. Every agency -- creative, media, digital, public relations and customer-relationship management -- needs to grab this opportunity and take responsibility for socializing the brand. Social shouldn't sit at one agency or indeed operate as a separate strategy on its own.

I totally agree with this. However how a company gets to this point needs a plan, a strategy to engage the company, inside out, to integrate social throughout the business, to create a cultural shift so everyone does have responsibility for socializing the brand. For many company employees I don't think socializing the brand really comes under their radar, it's not on their job description and it's not something they get rewarded for at bonus time.

Perhaps the first question to ask is

Does my brand need to be more social? What benefits could a more social brand generate for the business?

What are your thoughts on this? I'm about to present at a Social Media Marketing Forum #NZSoMo on Social Media Strategy so it's a timely discussion.