There are a number of reasons why any organisation that uses social media might want to develop a strategy. Here are my top five:
With many organizations still grounded in a one-way communication model, a social media strategy provides a set of activities that can be understood, agreed and delivered by everybody in the organization.
By working through the process of deciding which activities will help achieve business objectives with the right communities, years of no doubt interesting yet completely irrelevant activities can be avoided.
3. Risk management
Just as important as what is included in the strategy is what is not, which may well include those activities that could damage the reputation and even bottom line of the company.
A strategy provides a framework within which everyone involved in delivering individual components – both inside the organization and external partners – can operate, knowing that they are all working towards a common goal.
By telling a clear, coherent story, the strategy can support the prioritization of social media marketing (if indeed it is a priority) and justify the resources and investment required to deliver success.
Of course, there will be those that argue against having a social media strategy at all. Some say that social media should not be given special treatment and its usage should be governed by existing processes and protocols. They argue that the formality and structure that a strategy provides is simply not appropriate for the fast-moving, participative nature of what are essentially just social interactions; it would be like having a written strategy just for conversations with people. For complex multinational organizations (and even less complex ones) it is simply not feasible for any kind of effective use of social media to be possible for long without some form of strategy.
I think that part of the problem arises from the different mental models people have of what a strategy is and looks like. It is therefore worth taking the following observations into account when developing your social media strategy:
- A strategy doesn’t have to be a formal document, or even written down
- A strategy can adapt and evolve as quickly or as slowly as required
- A strategy can be as broad or narrow as needed