How to recognize fake strategies in social media

Strategies are my business

What are fake strategies?

Fake strategies are strategies that do not correspond to what they promise. In colloquial terms, this is also known as a scam. Fake strategies come in a wide variety of versions. Unfortunately, they are far more common in social media than real strategies.

Particularly common variants of fake strategies and their characteristics

Strategies that are not strategies: These are measures, not strategies – even if they say strategy. These measures are usually based on marketing.

Problems: If we start with measures instead of a valid strategy,

  • the performance potential of social media – which is very different from marketing – is ignored and ultimately, at best, marketing communication is practiced in social media. This is much less successful than the appropriate use of the performance potential of social media.
  • company resources are not used effectively. We do not focus on the best possible benefit that social media can offer a company, but on a specific benefit of social media for a certain functional area – usually marketing. No matter how successful the measure is – it brings less benefit than measures based on valid social media strategies.
  • we ignore the competitive situation. We do not focus company resources on the competition that we can successfully withstand, but enter a competition without knowing whether we can be successful at all.

Strategies that are unrealistic: crucial areas of reality are excluded. This is particularly common in competition in social media. As a competition for attention, this is more intense than other forms of competition.

Problems: Strategies that exclude competition are generally not competitive. Quite simply because they were not developed to be successful in a specific competition. If we ignore a competitive situation in strategy development, the resulting strategy is only competitive by pure chance. Strategies that exclude fundamental parts of reality – such as competition in this case – are therefore bound to fail.

Strategies that are not well-founded in terms of content: the information basis of these strategies is incorrect, incomplete or faulty and the derivations from them are methodologically inadequate. For example, the strategies do not take into account what benefits social media can actually provide for the company and what of this can be realized by the company in the long term in competition.

Problems: this is where the problems of unrealistic strategies and measures without a strategy can be found – in a more or less intense form.

Unfinished strategies: essential areas of the strategy are missing or not fully implemented. These can be, for example,

  • the competitive situation and strength of the strategy.
  • the assumptions and prerequisites on which the success of the strategy is based.
  • the benefit that the strategy creates for social media users.

Problems: if the areas/contents of the strategy are not sufficiently developed, the element that connects the strategy with implementation in day-to-day business is missing. We have a good strategy with less good implementation. This has a negative impact on the success of the strategy and thus of the company.

Strategies with questionable performance: the potential performance of the strategy is not defined. It is therefore not clear whether and how the strategy can even achieve its goals. This is almost regularly the case with competition, but also often in the implementation of social media measures for company success. The use of social media for the business model as a whole is almost never the case. This means that a large part of the benefits of social media for company success are ignored.

Problems: we have a defined strategy of which no one can say whether and why it will be successful. This is not uncommon and at least comes at the expense of the commitment to implementation. No one is particularly committed to a strategy that has a big question mark over it as an essential element because no one wants to be associated with failure.

How do fake strategies come about?

Fake strategies are not the result of malicious behavior but the consequence of a lack of training.

The training of a social media manager rarely lasts more than 3 months (full-time). Given its importance, the topic of strategy receives only minimal attention and is usually taught using methods that correspond less to the development of strategies than to measures – for example the POST framework.

Even if social media is taught primarily as further education and not as vocational training, it is helpful to compare it with the presence of strategy in application-oriented vocational training. Even very few new graduates in a skilled trade or commercial profession have sound strategic skills. However, they do not need them either. Social media managers should be able to recognize the benefits and risks of social media for a company’s business model right from the start and respond to them with appropriate strategies.

Practical check: If you have completed training as a social media manager yourself, which part of your training was more comprehensive in terms of time:

  • the use of image editing programs
  • the development of strategies

If you are not a social media manager yourself, you can ask a social media manager you trust.

If you hire a social media manager, you can draw conclusions about their strategic competence by asking about the scope of the respective topics in the training.

What damage do fake strategies cause?

False security: the company and its employees invest resources and energy in the belief that these investments will pay off and lead to success. Fake strategies lead at best to a measurable positive result through extremely fortunate circumstances, but not to the possible positive success.

Competitiveness: if a “strategy” ignores the competition, it ignores a central area of ​​reality. “Strategies” of this quality are not only uncompetitive, they also reduce the competitiveness of the company as a whole. The more relevant social media is for the industry and the business model, the more drastic the effect of this error.

Consumption of resources: fake strategies lead many companies into a competition that they can neither win nor survive in the long term and that leads to the possible positive result being extremely expensive to achieve. If, for example, SMEs enter a media competition in social media that media companies do not expect of themselves, this is a result of a fake strategy and leads to a waste of resources.

Opportunities of social media: Fake strategies are not based on knowledge of all the opportunities offered by social media. This leads to opportunities remaining unrecognized and therefore unused by the company. This is just one of the competitive disadvantages that result from fake strategies.

Risks from social media: Social media can boost the success of business models. But it can also have a negative impact on business models, either completely or partially. Whole industries have already experienced this. Nevertheless, the potential for change that social media can have on the existing business model is unknown in almost no company.

Practical check of strategy competence: to get an impression of the strategic competence of a social media manager, you can, for example, use a business canvas of your company’s business model to have it explained to you what opportunities and risks social media has for the individual areas of the business model and how the opportunities can be specifically exploited.

Probable practical finding: it is very likely that the person in question is seeing a business canvas with a business model for the first time. This does not mean that they are currently able to develop social media strategies that serve the business model. In this case, at best, the development and implementation of social media measures without strategic orientation can be expected.

Strategy check

This is how you check the quality of a social media strategy and recognize fake strategies.


The development of a social media strategy, including the decisions it contains, those involved and their information bases and sources, should be documented. In particular, the assumptions, prerequisites and priorities that went into the strategy development should also be documented.

If these components are missing, the quality of the strategy can only be assessed to a limited extent before it is implemented. This means that this strategy is subject to a higher risk.

The lack of documentation is a lack of quality and an indication of a fake strategy.

Social media benefits

A valid social media strategy is based, among other things, on the potential social media benefits for the respective business model. In the strategy process, the company then decides on the social media benefits it wants to use with its strategy based on defined and documented criteria.

If a strategy is not based on the potential benefits and the focus and the criteria underlying it are not documented, this reduces the quality of the strategy and is an indication of a fake strategy.

Social media change potential

The change potential of social media for the business model should be taken into account when developing the social media strategy. If we ignore an existing change potential of social media on our business model, this strategy ignores relevant risks of reality and therefore has a lack of quality.

Options for action and competition

The options for action (for a benefit in a field of the business model) and its competitive situation show which benefits we can actually achieve from social media for our business model. In this way, we reduce the risk of engaging in competition that we cannot win and wasting resources accordingly. Options for action are therefore an indispensable part of the strategy development process. Their absence is a lack of quality and an indication of a fake strategy.

Strategy versions

In order to exploit the advantages of social media for a company’s business models, different approaches quickly emerge, both in terms of the content of the strategy and its fields (options for action). By developing strategy versions, we develop the most effective and relevant strategy. If we skip this step, we assume that there is generally only one solution, which we also recognized immediately. This approach is not always realistic and therefore represents a possible lack of quality.

Strategy components

Strategy components represent the structure of a strategy and contain the strategy content. They result in the measures with which the strategy is implemented. They also contain the requirements for implementation and the respective resources as well as the KPIs of the respective area.

The strategy components thus form the bridge between the strategy and day-to-day business and the platform for strategy management.

Missing strategy components such as

  • Company benefits: the concrete benefits that the strategy is intended to achieve for the business model and how this benefit is exploited in social media, integrated into company processes and contributes to company success.
  • User benefits: the benefits of the strategy for social media users are the basis for two prerequisites for the strategy’s success. If there is no concrete benefit, this success is correspondingly more questionable. This greatly reduces the quality of a social media strategy and is a sign of a fake strategy in the sense of an inadequate, insufficiently effective strategy.
  • Competition: what competition we are entering with the strategy and how and why we will be successful in this competition. If the strategy component is missing, the strategy is questionable (fake strategy).
  • Topic areas: represent the markets that we address in social media and that our strategy is aimed at.
  • Resources: define the quantitative and qualitative resources that are required for the strategy and how they are secured.
  • Assumptions and prerequisites: contains the assumptions and prerequisites – beyond the resources – of the strategy. If this information is missing, strategy management will be blind in at least one eye.

are a strong signal of an incomplete and/or faulty strategy and an indication of a fake strategy.

Strategy management

The success of social media strategies also depends on the quality of implementation and on permanent strategy management.

If strategy management is not part of the strategy – i.e. if the strategy supports strategy management via the corresponding structure (strategy components), this reduces the probability of success in implementation and increases the risk of late adaptation of the strategy to changes or misjudgments.

A lack of strategy management and a strategy structure that is not geared towards this reduce the quality of the strategy.

Assessing social media strategy competence

Below you will find the skills and approaches to assessment required for key areas described.

Social media performance potential

Knowledge of the impact formats in social media and their application requirements – from the platform used to the content to competitive performance and user benefits – are prerequisites for not only posting but also for being able to use social media successfully for companies.

The structural differences between audiences and communities in terms of competitive quality and the example of the requirements for the functions of the platform for communication and selective user communication are explained.

Business model

A social media manager should know a company’s business model well enough to be able to support it competently and comprehensively through social media. This includes being able to determine the possible benefits for the individual areas of the business model. If this ability is lacking, social media will at best support the company’s success to a limited extent.

Whether this is the case can be easily identified with the help of a business canvas of the business model, on the basis of which the benefit of social media for this business model is defined and explained by the person responsible for social media.

Options for action in competition

Anyone responsible for social media should know the company’s options for action for the possible benefits of social media and be able to competently assess them based on their content and their competitive situation. If this ability is lacking, it is unlikely that social media can be used effectively and successfully in competition according to its potential.

For topics that social media deals with, have the benefits for the business model, the competitive situation in the topics and the competitiveness through your own strategy explained.

Assumptions Prerequisites

Every strategy is based on assumptions and prerequisites. Some are immediately recognizable, others are not. Every component of the strategy, as well as the entire strategy, should be checked to see which assumptions and prerequisites are included for the success of the strategy. This can include, for example, the competition and its behavior, your own resources, the assessment of the competitiveness of your own strategy or the performance quality of the social media platforms used.

For the three most important measures in social media, have the assumptions and prerequisites for the competitiveness of your own strategy and the performance quality of the social media platforms used for the usage formats used explained.


Resources are a prerequisite for a strategy. Defining and securing resources is the task of the person responsible for social media. Developing strategies that can be covered safely and permanently by resources is a core responsibility.

Justifying the competencies (quality of resources) and quantity of resources for audiences and communities that are needed in the company’s social media topics in order to be competitive based on the performance of the most important competitors.


Documenting the strategy development and the decisions, potential, competitive positions, priorities, SMA, strategy versions and the criteria for their evaluation are essential for the evaluation and management of a strategy. Otherwise, a strategy is a black box and we can recognize and implement changes and necessary adjustments much later and with greater effort.

The importance of documenting a strategy development for strategy management can be explained using concrete examples.

Core problem

If a company lacks social media strategy competence, it is difficult to assess this strategy competence in candidates and employees. I can provide support in this case if required.

Building valid social media strategy skills

The biggest problem in social media is the lack of strategy skills among those responsible for social media.

A lack of strategy skills means that we work more and harder. But we pay less and less attention to what is really important for the company’s success. At best, we produce “social media successes” instead of making a comprehensive contribution to the company’s success.


A key cause is the neglected or non-existent strategy training. We focus on producing social media managers who can handle day-to-day business, but we fail to train social media managers who can contribute to the company’s success. In our view, strategy is negligible in training because newcomers to the profession do not come into contact with strategy in a “normal” start to their role. In social media, as a relatively new function, a social media manager should be able to understand and apply strategy as well as possible. Because the probability is extremely high that their company either has no social media strategy at all, or has a strategy that does not work, or misunderstands an arbitrary collection of measures as a strategy.

Problem solving

Understanding and applying strategy requires a lot of commitment, even with an efficient method, and remains strenuous. Social media managers without strategic competence are and will remain a problem for their companies, which can be solved either by

  • an upgrade in the form of strategy development
  • a personnel solution

As there are currently hardly any social media managers with sound strategic competence, solution 2 is often not practical.

As social media managers – not least due to a lack of strategy and the associated lack of priorities – are stuck in a dynamic activism like a hamster wheel, so a problem solution from this direction is less likely to be expected.

My contribution to the solution

I trained social media managers myself for a few years and tried to impart strategic skills to beginners as part of a prescribed training course. In individual cases, this was successful, but of course it was and is not even a drop in the ocean.

That is why I developed the potential-based strategy model pbsm, which enables strategy development for social media to be relatively simple and compact but still well-founded. The pbsm is currently the only strategy model that uses the performance potential of social media in a structured way for strategy development, makes the possible benefits of social media for the individual business models of companies recognizable and usable and leads to competitive and economical strategies via the resulting options for action in the competition in social media.

This method can be learned online in a free course – here. The course includes over 20 hours of pure reading time and more than 200 practical exercises.

The problem of my solution contribution

It is a one-man solution and a retirement project, which means it will only be available for a short period of time.

Sources of strategy competence

If you want to learn more about social media strategy

If you want to use the most powerful strategy model in social media

  • Learn about the benefits of the potential-based strategy model pbsm.
  • Learn to use the potential-based strategy model pbsm. The strategy course includes more than 70 learning units and over 200 practical exercises and is free of charge.

Your free strategy course starts here.

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