Why I Worry About “Social Media Strategy”

I’m a little worried at how I’ve seen the term “social media strategy” thrown about recently.

I’m starting to overhear things like, “we’re also working on a social media strategy.”

I worry about this. A lot. I think I worried aloud about it four or five times during my 20-minute session at Talk Is Cheap recently.

Used this way, “social media strategy” could put a huge dent in the success of social media efforts within organizations.

Why?

Social Media Shouldn’t Stand On Its Own

‘Social media’ gives you a set of tools. You should add these to your existing toolkit and use them as appropriate.

365 - 51 - banging my head against the wallTreating social media as a separate program will lead to disconnected and poorly coordinated efforts destined to fail.

Would you put a news release out on the wire on its own and expect it to have a significant impact?

Ok, once in a blue moon it might. The vast majority, though, will disappear into the abyss.

If you have any sense, you support your news release with other tactics – events, letters to stakeholders, speeches, matte articles, advertising, etc.

Social media gives you more tactics to add to this list. The difference is, you can’t just put them up at the time then forget about them. These aren’t one-day wonders like some other tactics. They need continued work, up front and afterwards.

Why, then, do people think it’s ok to throw up a Facebook page on its own? Or to put a video up on YouTube without anything to back it up? Sure it’s neat, but will it succeed? No. Just like anything else, social media needs to be integrated with other outreach or it will fail.

What Should Social Media Strategies Do?

Social media is long-term. It’s ongoing. That’s the nature of conversation and relationships. They outlive any single PR initiative.

Your social media strategy should plan how to get involved in those communities, relationships and conversations… genuinely.

Who’s out there? What do they care about? How can you help them? How will you engage them over time?

That’s what your social media strategy should cover… not a cool video on a funky website that causes a small ripple then vanishes.

(Related link: Should social media specialists be separated from PR staff? hat tip: Susan Getgood for the reminder)

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Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.