Social Media Strategy
Social media strategy is like our marketing strategy, our HR strategy, our IT strategy, or indeed, strategy for any part of our business.
Our social media strategy is part of our overall business strategy and it looks specifically at the events, opportunities and difficulties that we expect to encounter in the next five years. Our strategy plan and document describes what we intend to do about the challenges and events as they occur.
Because social media strategy is so new, our social media strategy is likely to begin with “we don’t know what will happen in social media but we do know that we will use it more”. “We also know that younger people will expect us to use it and older people may have difficulty understanding it”. We know that we are going to need resources to monitor developments, develop policies, and deliver training.
A loose structure is probably the best to use. In a large corporation, I would pull people who are interested in working in social media into one place. I would survey our skill levels across the corporation, and I would organize unconferences to suggest ways to use social media in part of the business.
Far from banning Facebook at work, I would encourage it – but in a thoughtful way. I would ask associates how they would feel if our business encroached their personal space. I would ask them which of their friends are interested in our business. I would bring together their ideas about how we would use social media, and their thoughts on the opportunities and risks that social media brings, and about the policies and training that we need.
Social media as business strategy
The wider question about social media in our business strategy is a lot more interesting. When we jump up two levels of management to the Board and ask “What business are we in?”, we find that businesses are changing dramatically because of social media.
At this level, the specifics of social media are less important. At this level, the general principles help us think about the way whole businesses will change.
Now if we are in a business like deep water oil extraction it may be quite difficult to imagine how social media will change our business. If we are in a knowledge and service business like universities, it may be hard to take in that our industry may just get trashed by this emerging art form.
It is very likely that our Directors, being older, have little ‘feel’ for changes on the horizon. It is also very likely that the Gen Y in the business have neither a ‘feel’ for our business nor indeed, the conceptual understanding of social media to be able to brief the Board on the possibilities.
Herein, therefore is another task for the ‘social media function’ – to gather ideas – wild and woolly or concrete and specific – any ideas about the impact on our business.
The purpose of a social media unit
The purpose of that unit is not to define the answer. That is the work of the Directors.
The purpose of the unit is to structure the conversation so that Directors can start to ask better questions.
We are winning once the Directors are asking good questions for the social media strategy group to answer.
Wouldn’t it be fun to do this work?
And for your business and mine?
- What are the questions that you ask about your business and social media?
- What questions are you asking?
- What puzzles you?
- What would you like to know more about?
- What do you dismiss with a wave of your hand – and so really should put back on the table?
- Where will social media put your business significantly ahead of your competitors?