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Strategy competence is an existential necessity for companies. Companies that lack this ability will sooner or later be at a significant disadvantage in competition. Companies that have excellent strategic competence have a corresponding competitive advantage. This is why employees with this competence are particularly in demand.
This blog post explains how social media managers can use social media strategy skills as a competitive advantage and unique selling point.
Strategy competence as an indispensable skill for social media managers
It should come as no surprise that strategic expertise is essential for the role of Social Media Manager. This skill is always one of the first points in the job description.
In mosts social media manager job profile, the task is listed first, described by the need for a strategy, the importance of the information base and resources, but little about the nature or content of a strategy. What exactly strategy and strategy competence comprise is generally not so clearly defined.
The situation of strategy as an undefined black box is not uncommon and is reflected in a similar form in the information provided by companies that train people to fill the role of social media manager.
Proof of strategy competence
Since social media strategy is an indispensable, primary part of a social media manager’s job, we regularly find this competence in job descriptions. This is hardly surprising. Proving this competence factually is not easy due to its character as a black box.
Of course, you can point out in the application process that you were responsible for strategy in this or that company and that you have developed a number of strategies accordingly. However, this does not make it clear what this means in qualitative terms, especially as it is not advisable to explain the respective strategies of previous employers in detail.
This makes it difficult to stand out from the competition in the most important area of the function – unless you use this problem as an opportunity for yourself. And, last but not least, to demonstrate strategy competence.
Social media strategy competence is defined by the task
The strategy competence we need simply depends on the task we have to solve.
If we use social media for a company – and not just for a single corporate function – this results in the requirements for strategy competence.
- Social media performance potential: we need to know what performance potential social media has for companies.
- Business models: we need to know and understand business models.
- be able to apply social media performance and change potential to business models.
- be able to derive and evaluate the resulting options for action in social media.
- be able to develop a coherent, competitive and feasible strategy on the basis of the possible courses of action.
- be able to guide the strategy through the decision-making processes, introduce it into the company and market, manage it and adapt it.
The use of social media for social media marketing requires a somewhat reduced level of strategic expertise. With an equally reduced level of effectiveness.
Use of strategy competence in application processes
Let’s imagine the situation on the other side of the desk. You are looking for someone with strategic competence and you probably can’t fully assess this strategic competence yourself. All you probably have are references to previous activities in which strategy was part of the job in some way. It is not always clear from this how far the respective strategic competence really extends in terms of quality and quantity.
The HR problem makes it possible to define a benchmark for strategy competence for one’s own benefit. We demonstrate social media strategy competence at a higher level and with particular relevance.
Raising the bar.
Social media strategy competence stands for the ability to use social media for the success of the company and thus for the success of the business model. We place strategic competence at the level of the business model. With this benchmark, most other interested parties are quickly out of the running. Today, social media managers with strategic expertise at this level are about as common as white elephants or spotted zebras.
The problem is rather the comprehensible explanation of why social media strategy competence stands for the ability to support the business model – i.e. the company’s success – through social media. This problem should no longer exist after reading this text.
A social media strategy competence that takes the business model into account can easily be demonstrated using a business canvas that shows the effects of social media on business models in general. Business canvases for business models are well established among decision-makers, attract attention and arouse curiosity and interest in this surprising competence. Below is a business canvas with an example of social media change potential for business models as a pdf. However, some tablets and mobile phones do not display a pdf. So if you do not see a pdfi, write to me and I will send you the pdf.
Prove relevant competence.
Going the extra mile is better than sitting back and smiling. Demonstrating social media strategy competence for the company’s business model also secures your unique position.
In practical terms, this can be achieved through an individual business canvas for the business model of the respective company, which does not have to be perfect in terms of content, but which does address the performance and change potential of social media for this business model in an exemplary manner.
Paths to social media strategy competence
To ensure that the social media strategy competence described above is available when needed, it is advisable to build it up in good time.
The topic of strategy is challenging on its own. Combining it with social media does not automatically make it any easier. Your social media strategy competence is based on knowledge, experience and method. The latter because a non-methodical approach is anything but good for strategy. Not least because strategy requires an information base for success, which should be methodically sound.
In terms of knowledge, we need in-depth knowledge of the social media performance potential. In other words, not just what individual social media platforms can do and how they are used, but as a whole knowledge of the performance potential of all usage formats and their possible design.
Knowledge of business models is also required. Osterwalder & Pigneur’s Business Canvas has established itself as the standard for presenting, analyzing and working with business models. You should get to know this tool better.
The third pillar of knowledge is the methodical analysis of the modules of the business model for benefits and potential for change through social media. In principle, this is simple because only the first part – the social media performance potential – needs to be usage on the second part – the business model. The prerequisite, however, is an appropriately structured performance potential that is suitable for this. You can neither google this knowledge nor buy it from a well-stocked specialist bookshop. You either develop your own method or use the only existing method (the potential-based strategy model pbsm).
Strategy is also a question of experience, which in turn comes from usage and practice. There is no alternative or shortcut to building experience. Strategy shortcuts only make you look pale instead of competent.
Investment to build up strategic expertise
Strategy competence is the skill that makes social media managers more valuable to companies. It is worth investing in your own competition advantage. And it is definitely an investment.
The biggest investment is time. Methods and knowledge need to be developed. Their usage should be practiced intensively. Ideally before you demonstrate your strategy competence for your own company.
Factor 1: It takes several to many months – depending on your commitment and personal skills – to learn the basics, understand them and practice their usage at least once.
Factor 2: You can acquire all the knowledge and insights on your own. Doing it yourself can be great fun, but you have to be able to overcome intellectual challenges on your own. It is easier and quicker with a coach, but it is also more expensive – depending on how much support is required. You can either invest time or money.
The potential-based strategy model pbsm
The potential-based strategy model is little or not at all known in social media, as it is new and there are no textbooks on the subject. Strategy development in social media is geared more towards its own functions and platforms than the economic benefits for companies. Where this happens, the economic benefit is limited to supporting marketing. And thus lags behind the possibilities of social media.
As this is insufficient and unsatisfactory, I have developed the potential-based strategy model to provide prospective and experienced social media managers with a more powerful tool for developing strategies.
- The potential-based strategy model is based on a structured social media performance potential that makes the benefits, requirements and competitive quality of the various usages of social media pragmatically applicable and comparable.
- It is the only strategy model that builds strategies for the business model, takes into account the competition in social media and offers a solid basis for social media strategies through options for action.
- The pbsm works with a defined set of strategy components that makes the interactions within a social media strategy visible and thus avoids structural problems.
- Strategy evaluation and management are made possible by the structures of the strategy and its success factors in a way that is suitable for everyday use.
Why I developed the pbsm
The weaknesses and reduced approach of existing strategy models in social media did not have a negative impact on their use because there were no alternatives.
With my work in training social media managers, I have therefore found myself in the situation of teaching people – and therefore recommending – methods that I personally cannot really recommend.
I therefore tried to communicate a more viable alternative in the time allotted for strategy. Sometimes I succeeded more, sometimes less well and overall it was not very satisfying because the time available and the scope of the content did not match. The tenor was – and imho still is – more about teaching future social media managers the basics first and then hoping that the rest will somehow work itself out. In my opinion, this is an unreasonable hope.
That’s why I took the trouble to prepare the topic of social media strategy in a pragmatic and practical method that is also applicable for beginners.
Why I am making the strategy model available as an online course
The time, costs and target group speak in favor of learning this method online. If the same content – basics, usage, exercises and final thesis – were to be implemented in a traditional classroom format, the time required would be significantly higher for everyone involved. Classroom teaching would take weeks. The costs would be correspondingly high – starting with the attendance costs, i.e. travel, accommodation at the training location, etc., etc.. In addition, very few social media managers can simply take 3 or 4 weeks out of their daily routine.
On the other hand, social media managers are a very internet-savvy and flexible target group who are predestined like few others not only to communicate via the internet but also to learn via the internet.
Feedback from social media manager training
Even though I was only able to teach the pbsm method in a very rudimentary way in the training of social media managers, I received feedback from participants that the use of the Business Canvas in the application process had a very surprising and positive effect for them.
Participants who used the Business Canvas – as an example or individually – in their application very quickly received an invitation to an interview at the company. Usually not with the “HR manager” but with the CEO, managing director or owner of the company and these interviews were generally much more “at eye level”.
Further information on the topic of strategy and social media
can be found in the social media strategy blog on this website. I particularly recommend these articles
Individual posts about social media strategy
- Knowledge of usage formats as part of social media competence
- Using strategy competence as a professional competition advantage
- The strategic social media perspective or how much success would you like
- 3 questions about the quality of social media strategies
- Business models and social media strategy
- Social Media Strategist – Master of Strategy
- Strategy or tactics
- Action options – foundation of the strategy definition
- Strategy models: the pbsm.strategy model for social media
- Strategy models in social media
- The basis of a social media strategy
- Social media strategy or bundle of measures?
- Why it’s time to rethink social media strategy.
External resources on strategy in general
- Harvard Business Review Must Reads on Strategy
- Competitive strategy: how to design a winning business model
- From strategy to business models onto tactics
- Choosing How to Compete: Strategies and Tactics in Standardization
- The Origin of Strategy
For your questions
Strategy is an extensive and complex field. This also applies to social media.
If you have any questions about social media strategy, I will try to answer them as best I can. Ask your questions via the strategy question form in this website, by email or via LinkedIn.
If you want to delve into the topic as a whole and take your social media strategy skills to a new level, I recommend my course on social media strategy development with the pbsm.