Where You Start in Social Media Strategy Defines Where You End Up

One of the first articles I ever wrote on my blog was “Before You Start with Social Media.” I emphasized that organizations could not just jump into social media without some upfront work. The upfront work was really traditional marketing. But the reality is that social media goes beyond marketing and should touch, influence, and guide just about all departments and disciplines within a company.

This past week, I was working on a social marketing education presentation for one of my clients. I came across a slide by Angie Schottmuller which is very poignant with regards to social media strategy and various brands successes (or lack there of).

eMarketer finds that 80 percent of marketers incorrectly begin with social media tactics instead of goals. I have experienced an even greater percentage amongst the clients I have been associated with. I cannot tell how many have the blind mentality, “Oh, we’ll put up a Facebook page and Twitter handle” and believe they are executing social marketing.

Now I do not have empirical data to provide you, but I am willing to bet a year’s salary that the realization of social media successes have a most significant slant with regards to the starting point as highlighted in the graphic above.

Social marketing should be a customer centric engagement strategy. It is not only driven by business mission and goals, but more holistically derived by the company aspirations intersecting with their target market behaviors, wants, needs, and motivations. (I showed a graphic representation of this in a recent article “Assessing the Social Media Hype Cycle”)

Social media integration in the overall business objectives and approach is imperative. This brings to mind a controversial article by Cathryn Sloane where she declared “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25.” Her main argument was “The key is that we learned to use social media socially before professionally, rather than vice versa or simultaneously.” Yes, having a socially inherent upbringing, using social platforms, and understanding nuances is very valuable. But there also must be a complete business understanding to connect and plan to desired business outcomes. And this only comes from experience. Yes, there are exceptions, but generally speaking, it is presumptuous to assume someone under 25 with limited business experience is going to successfully implement a strategy that intersects business goals and consumer social behaviors.

That said, social media marketing must be placed in the hands of someone with executive responsibility. Social media marketing success will come from collaboration between an experienced business/marketing executive and someone who lives digital social engagement as part of their everyday lifestyle.

So if we go back to the Social Media Strategy Funnel, note

1) social success requires an assigned executive sponsors responsibility to define business mission and goals and make sure there is social execution, alignment, and synergy
2) each department head must clearly articulate their goals
3) target market customer insights must be defined
4) the three items listed above must be inputs to derive realistic social media goals
5) social media goals are not the responsibility of the social media manager, but rather a collaboration between the social media manager and all business and department stakeholders
6) the social media manager then defines social media tactics – tactics are not the starting point

If you want to really see success from your social efforts, put so upfront work in and start at the right. Make sure your social efforts are aligned and integrated to your overall business mission and goals,

Make It Happen,
Social Steve



Filed under brand marketing, brands, company organization, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media organization, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

11 responses to “Where You Start in Social Media Strategy Defines Where You End Up

  1. This is an amazing post. Thanks for sharing it with us, Steve. What I really like is the Venn diagram – what’s in it for the brand + what’s in it for the user = social success –> this is so much true, however only a few companies follow this rule.

  2. Jim Matorin

    D’accord, but collaboration among all business units easier said than done since too many silos still exist in companies today. One other thought, maybe if a company is short or resources they have to go outside and find a Conductor: http://smartketingreflections.blogspot.com/2011/03/conductor.html

    • Yes, silos exist, but if business want to reap success, they must be broken down. I would bet that “successful business” have measurably less silos in their culture.


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