The never-ending lust for buzzwords means that this year social media has been dominated by the craze for having a strategy.
In business, it’s important to have a strategy, and social media should be part of it, but you can’t just buy a strategy off the shelf. By its very nature, it needs to be as individual as your USP, and part of a bigger ‘ecosystem’.
I mean, a gearbox is important for your car, but would you allow yourself to be pressured into buying a gearbox without a vehicle if it was hyped enough. Of course you wouldn’t. Especially if you then had to find a motor to put it in.
In fact, it’s the car manufacturer that should be making sure you have the right gearbox to suit your needs, and offering alternatives to suit.
And so it is with social media. Its the business strategy that should be driving what you do with social media. Strategy by nature requires all parts of your ecosystem to be firing on all cylinders before it can do its work.
I see little value in even trying to use it for your business if you don’t have a strategy for content, digital or marketing in place, and in any case social should be seen as an amplifier.
Social media should revolve around your business, not the other way round.'Social media should revolve around your business, not the other way round.' Click To Tweet
Don’t be fooled by the hype.
A cookie-cutter strategy that simply answers the who, where, what, how and why, doesn’t go deep enough to make social media effective. Social media needs content and if you buy into the ‘strategy’ without understanding what content you need to produce to create customers, leads and enquiries, then you will be no better off documenting the basics and calling it a strategy.
If we’re pulling out the word strategy, we surely need to be strategic, and that means drilling down on USPs, KPIs and ROI, not simply deciding which platforms you’re going to use and who’s going to do it. You could write that on the back of a napkin in your lunch break.
The truth about strategy
Jay Baer, one of the world’s leading social media bloggers points this out in his article The Truth About Social Media Strategy, that social media effectiveness increases once people become customers, and [social media] isn’t effective at creating customers. Jay comments that this flies in the face of the ‘many, many, many social media consultants and self-styled gurus who will tell you how to gain more followers and then make lots of cash with social media strategy.’
Yet another case of buzzwords being used to literally frighten people into spending money when it could be better invested elsewhere, where marketing spend is producing better returns.
And Baer also points out that to actually sell stuff with social media, you’ll need to use paid advertising. However those who are selling strategies aren’t being clear on that.
For reasons unknown to me, there is a dogged determination to keep business owners believing that social media is a free marketing platform. And if I’m not mistaken, the current vogue for strategy suggests that poor performance is related to not having one.
It’s not. Poor performance is related to organic social media not being particularly good as a sales channel.
And to quote Jay Baer again, ‘The biggest problem with organic social media for business is that the majority of companies are trying to employ a social media strategy that hinges on making social media do something it’s not well-suited to do: create new customers from thin air.’
Prove me wrong
And I’ve yet to meet anyone that can prove me wrong, except in exceptional circumstances, and relying on those circumstances to crop up isn’t a strategy.
Nine times out of ten, social media strategy ISN’T what a business needs in order to grow.'Nine times out of ten, social media strategy ISN’T what a business needs in order to grow.' Click To Tweet
At some point, there must be a strategy or plan, but the biggest problem with social media is creating good, relevant content that customers want to consume. A cookie cutter strategy won’t solve that problem, in fact it is more likely to make it worse.
So what are you supposed to do?
Focus your resources on:
- building effective marketing funnels with your website, email and search
- providing new and existing customers with value-packed content
- then use paid social media to increase the reach of your message to targeted audiences
- and use organic social media to create conversations around your products and services, focusing on customer experience
And if you haven’t done so already, have a marketing plan drawn up. We all know what a plan is, it’s basically… a strategy, but without the freeloaders.