Why your social media strategy is wrong.

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February 20, 2015 by dannybishopcreative

There’s an old line, attributed to Steve Jobs, Google’s founders Brin and Page, and even the Unix philosophy.

Do one thing and do it well.

As a social media strategist it’s all too easy to toss this concept into the bin the moment you start with a brand.

You might tell them to build a Facebook following using lookalike audience advertising to create mass reach. You’ll probably suggest that Twitter is important for customer service and covering live events.

You might be tempted to set up Snapchat, especially if the target audience are 25 or younger. Instagram is there of course, but the client might also be interested in knowing about the upsides of Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Reddit.

And then there are the Chinese platforms, Weibo, WeChat, RenRen and others.

It’s easy to end up with a dozen platforms.

Sure, you might consider yourself an exceptional strategist for telling your client that they don’t need to worry about Google+, but are you really doing them a favour by suggesting they have a presence on each and every platform they can?

L2, a business intelligence firm that specialises in reviewing the digital proficiency of brands increases scores for each and every platform a brand is utilising to reach consumers. Recently they suggested that any brand not using Snapchat was a ‘loser’.

Spreading yourself too thin?

With all these platforms to manage, the question that will eventually be raised is ‘why are we there?’, or perhaps ‘what difference does it offer?’

It’s a vital question, and one that is all to easy to ignore.

Numbers are a drug

Each month there is a new set of statistics to show how many people are using each social media platform.

Social Network Users in Jan 2015 - source: statista

Social Network Users in Jan 2015 – source: statista

1.3B on Facebook, 330M on LinkedIn, 300M on Instagram, 280M on Twitter, 230 on Tumblr, 100M on Snapchat… the list goes on.

To a social media manager it is difficult to ignore a platform where there are literally hundreds of millions of potential new followers.

The siren’s song.

Rushing to capture each new platform can be fatal. Do you have a content plan for another network?

More importantly, can you spend enough time on an extra platform to create meaningful relationships between your brand and its new followers?

Why are we here?

It might seem like a silly question, but do you know why you’re on Facebook or Twitter?

If you ask some social media experts you might be surprised at the answer… or the lack of them to clearly articulate one.

They might answer with something like “to share news with our fans”, “to grow our reach”, or “to own the message that our brand’s fans see”.  Some might talk about advertising, 360º digital reach and lifetime communication strategies.

If these statements define your activities then of course you’re going to jump on every new platform that comes along.

A different strategy

What if you take a step back from your current mission statement and try to get more clarity around your true purpose.

The problem with the usual response to ‘why are we here’ questions is that they are normally defined in terms of your business.

They often suggest that the business has a problem, and that a social media strategy will solve it.

The classic “to own the message that our brand’s fans see” is a response to the business not being able to rely on traditional media to tell the brand’s story the way they want.  “To grow our reach” suggests the business doesn’t have a mature route to market.

But these all put the cart before the horse.  If you want to succeed, you must put the fans – your followers, your potential customers – first.

What if your response to “why are we here?” was more along the lines of “to create meaningful relationships with our customers” or “to foster brand advocacy and create evangelists for our brand within the community”?

These statements put the customer first. They aren’t statements to the detriment or exclusion of the client. The client’s success is now linked to the customer’s relationship with the brand, not the other way round.

Why it makes a difference.

If your mission statement is tied to making your fans happy, then the decision on what platforms you might spend your time building becomes a different equation.

When your mission statement is about reach, or lifetime communication, then every platform looks attractive.

When your mission statement is about creating advocacy and evangelists, then you immediately become more selective.

You’re forced to question if a platform can create those advocates. Can you create the sort of relationship on the platform? What will it take to do it?

The business led strategy wont mind if you create a new Tumblr account and post the same thing that’s on your Facebook feed once a week.  Yes, you’ll probably get a bunch of new followers and when it comes time to for your CMO to present to the board he or she will have a bigger number than the last presentation.

The customer led strategy does mind though. It wants you to prove that you can meet the specific needs of the platform. Will you be able to spend the amount of time building a community? Will you be there to answer questions in a timely manner? Will you continue to visit your community once the new-car smell has long since faded?  Does the network have the ability to create that community at all given your budget?

Can you answer yes?

Can you answer yes?

If you can’t answer a resounding ‘YES!’ to each of these questions then you shouldn’t be considering it.

The next question will be what to do with that Tumblr account now you realise it’s not part of your strategy.

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