2.8 Social media performance potential Social media channels

Learning Goal: Understand, appreciate, and be able to apply the impact of the individual performance potential of social media channels to a social media strategy.

Reading time: approx. 35 minutes

Exercises: Exercises are in the PDF of all exercises of this course. Download it from here.

Definition, importance and role of social media channels in the potential-based strategy model.

Definition

We use the term social media channels to refer to our own and external channels that are part of the social media landscape or use social media functions in an environment. External social media channels are not subject to our design, own social media channels can be designed by us.

Meaning

Social media channels can be overestimated in terms of their importance. They connect social media users to each other as well as to the companies that use social media. Their strategic importance results primarily from two levels. From the roll

  • as a connection as well as a transporter and presenter of content.
  • as a shaping element in the social media use of users and companies and as an active player with effects beyond social media.

While the role as a connecting element between social media users and as a transporter and presenter of content is obvious and is perceived accordingly by companies, at least in their day-to-day work, the role as a shaping element of social media use and an active player in social media is not really taken into account consistently by many companies in terms of its strategic importance.

As independent companies, external social media platforms inevitably pursue their own agenda, primarily serving the company’s own interests. This is the case with companies per se and is a truism, but it can become a problem for other companies if these companies do not take this self-evident fact sufficiently into account. The negative effects of this negligence are considerable and can be found above all in these fields:

  • Efficiency and effectiveness for business goals: Social media platforms design their services for the social media user, not so much for the companies. At the same time, social media platforms are predominantly financed by various forms of advertising. Social media activities of companies that generate economic benefits for these companies without advertising in the respective platform are correspondingly harmful for the business model and the economic success of the social media platform. That social media platforms therefore reduce or prevent such activities is in the nature of things. This limitation of social media use and the possibilities of social media for businesses through social media platforms works as long as it seems necessary for businesses to maintain a presence in these media and to use these platforms in a promotional manner. The integration of corporate processes into social media and of social media into corporate processes would be a logical development, which in an externally determined environment with conflicting self-interests is more likely to be attributed to visionary thinking than to a prompt realization. This largely fails to connect social media to the detriment of the effectiveness of social media investments and business success.
  • Value creation: Social media platforms can in principle contribute to value creation, but they certainly create their own value through their advertising services. In many cases, this advertising service is still significantly more economical than alternative advertising services, if one can speak of comparable alternatives at all. The value of value creation grows for many platforms through their revenue model. Advertising services are marketed via algorithms of a bidding process that responds to demand. With capped supply and rising demand due to increasing social media use by businesses, the price is rising. Since the price of a service is arrived at in a non-transparent way for the provider, a platform could take a different price for different industries or providers for the same service. A price increase comes to an end from an economic point of view when the price of alternative advertising services becomes more attractive than that of the platform. This development is typically countered by the platform’s performance structure:
    • A change of platform by a company would result in a loss of reach within that platform because the company cannot migrate “its” users to another platform.
    • Inactivity on the “expensive” platform would also lead to inactivity of the reach – and thus to its loss.
    • An alternative communication channel to the own reach within the platform is usually not available because the platform operator does not provide for it. An alternative communication channel to their “own” reach has not been and will not be established by the companies and is accordingly not then available.
  • Dependence: Social media platforms are digital business models in digital markets. One peculiarity of this constellation is the development of quasi-monopolies, consisting of a monolithic provider and other, significantly less relevant competitors. This idiosyncrasy reduces competition within each region of the social media landscape. New, potentially dangerous competitors are either bought out at an early stage or consistently squeezed out of the market by adapting functions and benefits. For companies, this results in a growing and doubly risky dependency:
    • Direct competitors with comparable services are lacking. This significantly reduces the companies’ options for action.
    • The more intensively the company uses the respective social media platform, the more difficult it is for the company to withdraw from this platform. This is all the more weighty the more the social media activities in the respective platform contribute to the company’s success. Worst case – for the company – is a comprehensive dependency of the company on a social media platform provider.
  • Design opportunity: The competition for attention in a digital space with an infinite variety of alternatives is more intense than anything we have been used to. To be and remain successful, our performance must be extremely convincing. This requires corresponding design options for our social media offerings. The less we can stand out qualitatively, the more we are forced to do so quantitatively. For the use of external social media platforms, this means that we find ourselves in an – increasingly cost-intensive – spiral of quantitative performance, the less we can customize this performance. To get out of this spiral of competition again corresponds to a change of system with the known consequences.

I feel that our own social media platforms are becoming increasingly less popular, even though there is a lot to be said for their use. At the same time, many companies use their own social media channels in a wide variety of forms – both for external and internal purposes.

  • Efficiency and effectiveness for business goals:
  • Added value: the added value remains in-house. Depending on the platform, the initial outlay for installing your own social media platforms can be significantly higher than the initially low investment in using external platforms. In return, the dependency of the company is reduced with higher effectiveness of the investments in social media for the company’s success. And last but not least, successful social media platforms of their own can generate their own revenues or even be developed into their own value.
  • Dependency: own social media platforms reduce the company’s dependency on external social media platforms that continue to be used, especially if they are also designed to take over the task of a backup.
  • Design options: we can tailor our own social media channels directly to our requirements and to the needs and benefits of our social media users. This allows us to clearly differentiate ourselves from the competition and at the same time effectively combine social media and corporate processes.
Role of social media channels in the potential-based strategy model
  • Performance potential: the performance potential of social media channels is defined on the basis of various criteria. This facilitates the development of powerful social media strategies.
  • Information base Strategy developmentThe current situation in the relevant social media channels (external and internal) serves as an information basis for strategy development based on their performance potential – firstly, by recording the current status according to subject areas, including use by competitors, and secondly, for the use of the social media channels on the basis of the social media strategy developed.
  • Strategy process: the social media channels are part of the strategy process once in the information base and then in the derivation of the content of the strategy component social media channels.
  • Strategy component: the social media strategy component Channels describes the use of the social media channels within the framework of the developed social media strategy and their application in day-to-day business.

Performance potential of social media channels

Defining the performance potential of individual social media channels is one element of the potential-based strategy model pbsm. If we know the performance potential of a social media channel, it is easier to decide how and to what extent to use it.

We define the performance potential of social media channels according to the following criteria:

Scope of services of the channel
  • Exclusivity
  • Usage formats
  • User benefit
  • CorporateBenefits
  • Motivation
  • Participation
  • Target groups
  • Topics
  • Range
Shapability of the channel
  • Adaptation of the channel (conception, functions)
  • Integration of the channel
  • Security (data access and backup)
  • Dependency

The criteria for evaluating the performance potential of a social media channel are explained in detail below.

Exclusivity of the social media channel

Whether a social media channel is used exclusively by one company or by several – competing – companies has a direct impact on the performance potential of the social media channel for the respective company.

  • Social media channels used jointly with competitors make it easier for competitors to access their own reach, but also enable their own company to do the same.

This sounds like an equivalent situation, but it is not necessarily so. If a company benefits more from this situation – for example, because only a small proportion of its customers can be addressed by competitors in the platform, but the company can reach a significantly larger volume of its competitors’ customers – this benefit is unbalanced. Many companies deliberately rate this disadvantage lower because they value the overall advantage from being present in this channel more highly.

Since we also build our own reach ourselves in external social media channels, we should not ignore the question of how easily this reach is accessible to the competition in the respective channel when deciding where to build this reach.

Complete exclusivity can only be achieved in a dedicated social media channel.

Usage formats in social media channels

The question of the social media usage formats available in a social media channel defines the performance potential of social media channels very broadly and has a direct influence on both the type of social media usage of the channel and the significance of the channel in the social media strategy.

We check for this question

  • which usage formats can generally be used in the respective channel. We thus determine whether each usage format can be realized in a channel.
  • how comprehensively / completely or restricted the respective usage format can be used. We record here how extensively the individual usage format can be used in a channel. Deficits in the practical use of a usage format in an external social media channel reduce the impact of this channel and the usage format for the company.

One example of a not-so-rare problem is inadequately implemented usage formats. Thus, although we nominally have the usage format, the impact possible with this usage format falls short of its possibilities or fails to materialize at all.

Example community in an external social network platform

This example might remind you of Facebook, but that is not intended. This example is intended to highlight and make you aware of structural problems in the use of external social media channels that are not always obvious. Bashing of platforms is not helpful. We must be able to comprehensively recognize and shape situations and make appropriate decisions as to whether a social media project is sufficiently promising in a given context or whether the framework conditions are sufficient for success.

Situation: In an external social media platform, there is the possibility of a community in the form of a group within a social network platform. So far, the company has only engaged in this platform with an audience in the form of a company page with regular content.

The framework conditions of the existing corporate side are already restrictive:

  • communication with the reach of the corporate side is one-way from the corporate point of view.
  • the audience is heterogeneously structured and brought together across a wide range of topics.
  • the company cannot actively target users selectively.
  • there is no user-based interest profiling.
  • general content targeting is not sufficiently precise and suitable for our topic structure.
  • the users act exclusively via the simple participation options of liking, commenting or sharing.
  • our content is subject to a platform-based rating that determines whether the user gets the content displayed or has to search for it.

From this situation arise problem for the Audience, which we operate with this page:

  • If we regularly present content to a heterogeneous audience that does not meet their interests, our importance in the perception of the audience as a source of information for this audience decreases.
  • If we spread content across a heterogeneous range, sooner or later interest in our content will flatten out because the majority of it cannot meet the interests of the users.
  • Lack of user interest in content from our site will sooner or later lead to a downgrading of our site as a source for the user and thus to a lower priority in the display of content in the newsfeed. On Facebook, this means that sooner or later we end up with a more or less large part of our reach in other news. We have to counteract this development with permanent or regular paid posts.

Even if the topic of the future community is perfectly suitable, the conceptual and technical design of the platform for the community has a direct influence on the success of the community as such as well as on the benefit of the community for the company.

In our example, the group as a possible basis of a community also holds some stumbling blocks like the following for us.

  • Users cannot network with each other at the community level. Networking always takes place at the social network level.
  • We have no possibility of active networking of matching users.
  • We do not have a community management tool that shows us the activity and inactivity within the use of the community.
  • The content and current events from the community are not displayed in the newsfeed by or for the user individually.

If the company decides to set up and operate a community in this constellation, structural problems will arise that – if left unresolved – will significantly limit the success of the community and the benefits it brings:

Networking and exchange between social media users in a community is the basis of activity. If we cannot actively support networking, it develops randomly and much more slowly, which reduces the attractiveness of the community for new users and thus the growth of the community.

  • Networked users should be able to communicate with each other without any problems. If users can only use communication in a limited way, this limits activity and reduces the impact of networking and ultimately the attractiveness of the community for its users. The community is once again hindered in its development.
  • If communication and networking of the community takes place in different places for the user of the social network platform, this hinders the ergonomics and thus the development and use of the community.
  • If the user of the social network platform is not actively provided with content from his community that is relevant to him, this is a functional deficit that is detrimental to the attractiveness and impact of the platform.

Conclusion: Even one of the above-mentioned deficits is enough to minimize or prevent the success of a community that promises success in itself.

The economic value of a community for a company results from

  • the knowledge about individual community members (profiling)
  • influencing social media users (content and communication)
  • The engagement of social media users (for community activity and influencing social media users).

If functions of the community that are required for this value creation fail or provide this service only partially, the economic benefit from the community is quickly called into question.

Summary: Social media managers often find themselves in this not-so-extraordinary situation. They are expected to be able to recognize and evaluate the performance potential of social media platforms and the associated consequences.

A recommendation for the community project without knowledge of the structural deficits cited as examples would be understandable but critical. The consequence of the realization is

  • the need to either find solutions for the shortcomings in our example platform (the social network platform), or
  • The willingness of the company to consciously settle for a much lower level of success from the community than would generally be possible, or
  • find an alternative constellation of platform interaction that enables a better outcome for the company.

Solution approaches: what the best solution is in such a situation can only be determined on a case-by-case basis. However, we should keep two general approaches in mind:

  • we shift our social media activities entirely to our own platforms and use the external platforms merely as feeders – whether in the form of clear advertising or appropriate posts.
  • we drive dual – i.e. we offer both and place the most important benefit for the social media user on our own platform and reinforce this with suitable and powerful motivational structures and participation offerings.

The dual model is significantly more complex and requires very competent and comprehensive community management with a particularly powerful motivation and participation structure to have sufficient prospect of success.

User benefits in social media channels

Social media channels and user benefits: The user benefits we create with our social media strategy are a key success factor of our strategy. The core task of the social media channels used for our strategy is to optimally convey and realize this user benefit.

Problems: We encounter problems in the interaction of social media channels and user benefits – both critical strategy components – that stem from two sources.

  • Matching user benefits to the performance potential of one or more social media channels: If we make the user benefit dependent on the performance potential of individual social media channels, we risk a social media offering that is less attractive to social media users. This reduces our strategy’s chance of success in a key respect. That’s like saying that because our race car isn’t particularly powerful, we don’t have a capable driver. This certainly does not increase the chance of winning the race.
  • Definition of user benefits based on the performance potential of the social media channels: Knowing the limited performance potential of a key social media channel, we may be tempted to define the UserBenefit from our social media strategy and the social media offering based on it from that perspective. Freely following the method “better a bird in the hand than a pigeon on the roof”, we accept the framework conditions of an external social media channel as the immovable performance limit of social media. This certainly does not advance the company in competition, but only calls its own strategic capabilities into question.

Solution paths: what the best possible solution to a problem from these sources looks like in a specific case can only be identified in and for that specific case.

A solution is based on the separation of the functions of a limited but at the same time indispensable social media channel: if the social media channel does not enable the user benefit directly, it can still transport the information about it – via the social media content in this platform – and we offer the user benefit in a more suitable (own) platform – which we can then also design optimally.

  • One argument against this solution approach is the media disruption. In this case, the user must leave the platform he is using and switch to another platform. He usually doesn’t like to do that – unless the benefits are really convincing. Thus, the main argument against this solution path is rather an unconvincing user benefit offered by our strategy. With an unconvincing UserBenefit, we have a fundamentally high-level problem.
  • The second important argument against this solution – with a convincing user benefit – is that significantly fewer users make the leap to another platform than if the user benefit were offered in the platform. For this reason, a reduced, less attractive user benefit that can be realized in the platform is the better solution overall. I disagree with this reasoning because it makes little sense to gamble on the success of a less attractive offering because that offering can be positioned in a busier environment. A less attractive offer is not more convincing in an environment with a large number of attractive offers, but rather less so.

Another general solution to the dilemma of not being able to provide an attractive user benefit in indispensable social media channels is not to have a social media presence in this channel. Social media users tend to expect companies that are present in a channel to make a service available there as well, if this is possible. If they are informed via pure advertising, they are more inclined – assuming a correspondingly attractive benefit – to take the step to another platform because they are already used to this behavior.

The fact that we don’t make the problem of the platform a problem of the user benefit, but handle it in exactly the same way, is another approach to dealing with the problem of the channel.

Even if we cannot directly realize an attractive user benefit in an indispensable channel because the channel does not want to provide it, we can at least provide the benefit in the less capable platform with the justification for the necessary jump to another platform.

Conclusion: with a reduction of the user benefit, we turn the performance deficit of a social media channel into a performance deficit of our social media strategy. This means we lose out in the competition.

Opportunities do not missEven with a UserBenefit that cannot be provided directly in an indispensable social media channel, the information in it – in the form of a social media post and not an advertisement – is highly recommended as long as we have also made the UserBenefit social – that is, it is suitable to be shared easily. Even better if the UserBenefit creates an additional advantage – such as a gain for one’s own image or ego – by passing it on for direct contact.

CompanyBenefits of Social Media Channels

In addition to the user benefit, which is one of the elements of success of our social media strategy, we should not overlook the company benefit as an element relevant to economic success when considering and evaluating social media channels for our strategy. The benefits that the company derives from its social media use is ultimately the reason for its social media use. How much of a desired and possible corporate benefit can be realized in a social media channel should therefore not be underestimated as a criterion.

Corporate benefit is created in a social media channel through the activity of social media users with which a relevant and economically value-creating effect is achieved for the company.

The company benefit can, for example

  • in the distribution of content,
  • in the collection of knowledge and insights,
  • in the engagement of social media users or
  • in the generation of interested parties

exist. For the social media channel level, we ask ourselves which impact we want in our strategy is enabled in the respective channel and to what extent.

In addition to the impact that is achieved in a social media channel, the use of this impact is also an issue in the use and evaluation of social media channels. If we cannot use an achieved effect (in the form of a result) for business purposes, this effect is useless. This raises the question of how we incorporate the result into the relevant corporate processes. Do we need the result

  • individually and manually into a company process, or
  • we can automatically incorporate the results from social media into processes.

Depending on how extensive the company’s social media activities are and the results they achieve for corporate processes, this criterion can become significantly more important.

The more easily a social media channel can be adapted to or integrated into corporate processes, the better for the corporate benefit that the company can derive from this channel.

Customization and integration: We can of course freely design our own social media channels. For external social media channels, we can try to measure the impact / result of our social media activities via

  • Introduce the design of social media activity into our business processes. This can be done, for example, via templates and forms that are integrated into the channel as apps.
  • Or we direct social media users to a more appropriate platform when we want to introduce content into processes. The latter also has its advantages for reasons of data security and data protection.

Motivation in social media channels

Motivation is an important strategy component of a social media strategy. Motivation and its structures has a very direct influence on whether we are successful and to what extent and how sustainable our success turns out to be.

The performance potential of a social media channel for this strategy component therefore shapes the suitability of the social media channel for a social media strategy. Here, too, it is important to remember that it is not the channels and their performance potential that define a social media strategy, but the strategy that defines whether and how a channel can be used.

We use motivation through the type and method of our motivation as well as through motivational structures. Methods, types and structures of motivation are described in the corresponding strategy component. For the question of the performance potential of a social media channel, we need to clarify the following points:

  • Can we use all motivational structures (intrinsic and extrinsic) in the respective social media channel?
  • Can we use all reasonable methods of motivation (direct motivation, platform-based motivation, user-based motivation, temporary motivation, permanent motivation, status-based motivation, systematic motivation) according to our requirements?
  • Can we use motivational structures according to our requirements?

The less suitable a social media channel is for motivating social media users, the more important it is for us to create an alternative suitable for it. This can be an alternative channel that replaces the less suitable channel or an alternative use of the less suitable channel in which the motivation is provided via additionally installed functions or via functions in an additional channel.

Participation in social media channels

Social media user engagement is a lever for the success of our social media strategy. Without the participation of the users, the success will be less or it will be completely absent.

In addition to this insight, participation also stands for the resources of social media that we can tap into with our social media strategy. Participation can not only take a simple form such as commenting or sharing content, but can go beyond that to a fixed, regular and organized participation of social media users in a platform or in processes of the company.

The impact of social media user participation is still underestimated or deliberately underutilized because we are insecure or skeptical about this resource and energy in social media, occasionally also because we have not yet understood the energy and impact of this force. In the latter case, it helps to keep in mind the importance of user participation in appropriately aligned business models.

  • Wikipedia has changed an industry. This is not imaginable without user participation.
  • user experiences and recommendations are changing a wide range of industries. This would not be the case without the active participation of social media users.

Target groups in social media channels

In social media, we can align ourselves with the breadth of marketing’s target group definition, as long as we can address these criteria in terms of content. But what we definitely need when working with target groups according to the potential-based strategy model is knowledge of their interests and needs in the form of topic areas, because we primarily address the target groups via these topic areas. Without the necessary market knowledge – which, after all, is expressed in knowledge of the topics that move our current and potential social media users – it is extremely difficult to use social media successfully.

Topics in social media channels

Topic areas stand for the markets we address and work on in social media. In order to reach the users who are interested in our subject areas, it is recommended to use the social media channels where the users with these interests are actively represented, according to their importance for our strategy. The type of use results from the further performance potential of the respective social media channel.

Social media channels that provide us with enormous structural and conceptual performance potential, but in which the topic is not relevant, have a high significance for us if we are able to establish the topic area in this channel. This requires that we either find enough users in these channels who are interested in this topic or that we are able to convince users with this interest of this channel.

We can specifically expose new social media channels of our own to certain topics. The success of a new social media channel then depends on how convincing the user benefit actually is for the users in this channel.

Reach of social media channels: in the market, in target groups, in subject areas (markets)

For these reasons, we should consider each social media channel relevant to usfor assessing whether we use this channel and how we can use this channel, in addition to its individual performance potential, the reach in the target groups and topic areas important to us.

Security and dependency as criteria for the use of social media channels

By security, we mean the security of the data and insights we generate through our social media strategy.

Security here stands for physical security – i.e. that data is not lost and also that we can access this data for business processes.

When we build relationships with social media users, gather knowledge about their needs and maintain contacts with these users, important and valuable data is created. If this data is not available to the company at all, or in a less suitable form in a social media channel, the value of the channel for the company is less than in a channel in which the company can freely access the acquired data. The consent of the user is of course mandatory in both cases.

In external social media channels, we can generally neither access user data nor user profiles or the content of communication itself, nor do we receive this data from the platform operator. Instead, we are forced to act within the platform – according to the specifications and possibilities of the platform – or to collect the necessary data via additional, usually less successful and more complex activities.

Dependence here stands for the dependence of market access – in the form of the social media channel – on another company. Social media channels are market access points. If a company builds up an important or even indispensable market access on an external platform, it places itself in a dependency on this platform. If the company has no other, equivalent alternative as market access, this dependency must be viewed particularly critically. If a significant part of the customer relationship or customer loyalty is established and maintained via external platforms, this creates a dependency for the company that will at least cause it to accept rising prices for the use of this platform.

Conclusion: When deciding on the general use of a social media channel and how to use it, the value that can basically be worked out in this channel should not be judged superficially. At the same time, we should not assume that the framework conditions for the use of an external channel will remain unchanged. The more important the impact we want to achieve with social media is for the company, the more carefully we should examine and consider this aspect.

Social media channels in the strategy process

Social media channels occur at both two points in the pbsm strategy process.

  1. Once about their performance potential in the context of overall social media performance potential. There you will be understood as part of the social media landscape in which we operate with our social media strategy and our social media offering.
  2. Social media channels also appear as a strategy component in the pbsm strategy process. In this strategy component, we describe how we plan to use which channels and in what way in our social media strategy.

The important significance of social media channels in the strategy process lies in their function as market access.

Own social media channels and external social media channels

In principle, every company is free to design its own social media infrastructure.

The following are the main arguments in favor of using external social media channels

  • the ease and speed of availability. Considerations for the design of the channel and the production and operation of the channel with the corresponding costs are eliminated. This does not mean that there are no usage costs for externally used social media. These are usually just not immediately recognizable. Once we have to work with the conditions that the respective channel offers us. This eliminates design options that are relevant for success in social media – at least in this channel. We cannot, for example, communicate without restriction according to our own ideas, we have no access to data, and we cannot sufficiently shape factors that are particularly relevant to success, such as motivation and participation. A lost benefit or an unrealizable benefit for the company should also be included as a value in the considerations for the use of external channels.
  • the high number of relevant social media users in an external channel. We may not be able to avoid using an external social media channel for this reason, because a high proportion of users we know or understand as existing or potential customers reside there. It should be noted that the stay and activity of social media users in an external channel should not be confused with access to these users. Users in an external platform want to be reached and tapped just as much as users we want to attract to our own platform.
  • the thematic relevance of the channel. If a social media channel has established itself as the place where opinions about companies and about their services of our market are formed, if the vast majority of experiences with services are located there and reflect the needs of social media users, and if there are dedicated discussions about these topics by social media users, it should be extremely difficult not to get involved there.

The points that have already been raised and consist of the restriction of use and the given limited performance potential and dependence from the external channel as well as the lack of security of data and market access speak against the use of external channels.

The points that speak in favor of using your own social media channels are correspondingly those that speak against using external social media channels. We can make these channels more attractive, offer greater user and company benefits, do not have to forego important success factors, and avoid dependencies and risks that should not be underestimated.

The requirements for development and operation and, last but not least, the market risks associated with the operation of a social media channel are often cited as arguments against the use of a company’s own social media channels. Not every company is or feels sufficiently empowered to design its own social media channel and operate it successfully in the long term. This is not only a question of company size – i.e. quantitative resources – but above all one of social media competence. Ultimately, the technology of many social media channels is available relatively inexpensively. However, the expertise to build and operate it is not as readily available.

In addition to this argument, which is not to be overlooked lightly, we should bear in mind that a company that wants to operate social media successfully in its entire scope of services in the long term will hardly be able to do without the necessary competence for the use of social media channels. The ability to populate a more external social media channel with content should not be confused with the ability to manage one’s own social media channels as well as those of others. That’s why I don’t think the competence problem – as urgent as it still is at the moment – is a permanently tenable argument. As long as companies lack the necessary comprehensive social media competence, they should assume only limited success in the use of social media – and the possible competitive disadvantages associated with it.

Application

Social media channels are an integral element of our social media strategy development. That is why we work with a strategy component of social media channels in the potential-based strategy model. For the sake of simplicity, we define the application – i.e., the definition of the strategy component, its implementation, the interactions with other strategy components, and the individual measures and goals – directly in the strategy component Social Media Channels. In the following, we address fundamental practical aspects relevant to strategy development.

This means that, for the sake of simplicity, we develop and record the most important contents of the strategy component directly there.

Before we decide to use an external social media channel as part of our social media strategy and its subsequent implementation, we should be clear about the channels’ performance potential.

For practice we are faced with the question

  1. whether to reduce our social media strategy to the scope of what external social media channels offer us as performance potential or
  2. whether we develop the social media strategy that makes sense for our company and use external channels in the implementation to the extent that this is advisable for our company.

Alternative 1 not only leads our company into an unwanted dependency, it reduces the social media performance potential that may then still be available to our company.

Alternative 2 requires a higher level of social media expertise, but also ensures a higher social media performance potential for our company.

Decision-making authority
We should not see the decision on these alternatives as a social media matter, nor should we make it arbitrarily in advance of strategy development. This decision sets the course for what social media can actually do for the company in the end. I do not think it is advisable to make them without the involvement of the management.

Performance profile of external social media channels

Before using the social media channels, we should

  • know which social media channels are relevant for our company at all.
  • Know the general performance potential of each relevant social media channel according to various criteria.

In doing so, we hold,

  • whether an element of the performance potential is fundamentally given and
  • in what quality we can use this element of the channel’s performance potential.

Task: On this basis, we create performance profiles of the relevant external social media channels as a basis for our social media strategy definition.

Sources for this content is our market knowledge, here in particular the knowledge of the external social media channels. We have already looked at a number of channels in connection with social media performance potential and can presumably draw on these findings here.

Criteria for analyzing the suitability of external social media channels

  • Social media usage formats
  • Performance UserBenefit
  • Performance CompanyBenefits
  • Performance Motivation
  • Performance participation
  • Performance target groups
  • Performance topics
  • Performance Data sovereignty, data protection and data security
  • Performance Market access
  • Performance exclusivity
  • Performance integration
  • Risk dependence

Performance profile Usage formats

  • Task: In this criterion, we check which usage formats are available in which quality within the external social media channel.
  • Question 1: Which social media usage formats are available in the external channel for the company?
  • Question 2: What is the quality of the individual usage formats? Quality includes both the performance for the user and the possibilities available to the company within the usage format – for example, for the management of the usage format.
  • Sources: Analysis of the social media channel / knowledge of the social media channel and its performance profile.
  • Result: Performance profile of the external social media channel for the usage formats.

Performance potential for the userBenefits

  • Task: We check whether we can use UserBenefit without restrictions in the external social media channel.
  • Question: What are the limitations of the social media channel for possible user benefits?
  • Sources: own verification
  • Result: Performance profile of the external social media channel for the realization of user benefits.

Performance potential for corporate benefit

  • Task: We check whether we have limitations in the external social media channel in terms of corporate benefits.
  • Question: What are the limitations for the company’s benefit in the social media channel?
  • Sources: own verification
  • Result: Performance profile of the external social media channel for the company benefit.

Performance potential motivation

  • Task: We check whether we can use motivational methods and structures in the external social media channel, or whether there are any restrictions for this.
  • Question: What are the possibilities of motivational methods and structures in the external social media channel?
  • Sources: own analysis
  • Result: Performance profile of the social media channel for the use of motivational methods and structures.

Performance potential Participation

  • Task: we check the possibilities of user participation of the external social media channels relevant for us. We can answer this question for all possible forms of user participation or for specifically intended forms. For this purpose, we pragmatically use the usage formats (also in the sensible combinations)
  • Question: What participation opportunities does the social media channel offer, in what quality, and in what connection to the company (technical connection to company processes)?
  • Sources: Functions and interfaces (APIs) of the social media channels.
  • Result: Suitability of social media channels for user engagement.

Relevance and reach in our target groups

  • Task: we check how relevant the social media channel is for our target groups and what reach it enables within these target groups.
  • Questions: To what extent / comprehensively are our target groups active in the respective social media channels? To what extent can we address these target groups – selectively – in these channels? Can we selectively build up and use the reach in the channels (e.g. according to target groups, different interests, etc.)?
  • Sources: Target groups / user structure of the social media channels (information provided by the channels) and query tools for targeting.
  • Result: Suitability / relevance of the respective social media channels for reaching target groups and building reach.

Relevance and reach into our topics

  • Task: we check the relevance of social media channels for the topics of our strategy.
  • Question: How strongly are the topics of our strategy present in the respective social media channels?
  • Sources: Analysis of the presence of the topics and their intensity and type in the social media channels. This corresponds to the social media affinity of the topics in the channels.
  • Result: Relevance of social media channels for our topics.

Data sovereignty, data use, data protection

  • Task: Quality of the channels for ensuring legal certainty of our actions and the legal future security of our investments.
  • Question: Do data protection, data use and data backup comply with the legal standards (EU / FRG) or are problems to be expected for the platforms that will affect their own investment in the platforms. Is data sovereignty – securing data and knowledge – possible for the company or is there no way to secure the data (own range, profiles, etc.) for the company?
  • Sources: legal expertise, social media management expertise.
  • Result: evaluation of the legal security of the channels or the investment in the channels.

Securing market access

  • Task: we evaluate the security of market access via our social media channels
  • Question: can we secure market access / access to our users within the individual channel? Can market access be modified, limited or closed by activities through platform operators?
  • Sources: Terms of use, functionality and history of each social media channel.
  • Result: evaluation of the security of market access of the individual social media channels.

Channel exclusivity

  • Task: we evaluate the exclusivity (in the sense of exclusivity) of the social media channel
  • Question: can competitors also be active on the social media channel and if so, how can they address our users directly or indirectly.
  • Sources: Analysis of the use and functions of the external social media channel.
  • Result: Evaluation of the exclusivity of the social media channel.

Risks dependence

  • Task: we evaluate the dependency that the company enters into with the use of the individual social media platforms.
  • Question: what type of dependency and what level of dependency – for the success of our social media strategy – arises from the use of each social media channel?
  • Sources: Assessment based on own analyses and social media expertise
  • Result: Evaluation of the dependency from the use of the respective social media channel.

Performance potential of own social media channels

We focus on evaluating the performance potential of external social media channels, as we are free to design our own social media channels.

The requirements for the development of own social media channels result primarily from the usage format, the user benefit, the company benefit, the components motivation and participation.

The additional challenge of using your own social media channels is their design / conception as well as the subsequent build-up including the reach of the channels.

Example Work Template Performance Potential Social Media Channel

Below is a working template on the performance potential social media channel as an example.

Übungen

Die Übungen zu diesem Thema sind zu Beginn des Themas unter Materials verlinkt.

Exercises

Procedure: The exercises are primarily for self-monitoring. I.e. you carry out the described exercise and recognize how far you can apply the learned contents yourself and where you may have to reread and rework. You can solve open questions

  • by reviewing the material of the section (basics, usage).
  • check the FAQ for answers,
  • use the forum for open questions.

if the previous sources do not contain an answer - ask the lecturer (eMail)
use the Individual Lecturer Consultation (only participants with coaching package).

Exercises own company

Develop a working template for analyzing the performance potential of social media channels for companies. As criteria of the performance potential of the individual social media channels we use

  • applicable usage formats and their quality
  • possible user benefits
  • Company benefits and their quality
  • applicable forms of motivation
  • applicable forms of participation
  • presence of relevant topics
  • presence of relevant target groups
  • security of the social media channel for the company

2. analyze the social media channels

facebook,
Instagram,
Pinterest,
Youtube
Twitter

on their performance potential for companies for the criteria

  • Usage formats that can be used and their quality
  • Limitation of the user benefit
  • possible forms of motivation and motivation structures in the respective social media channel
  • possible forms of participation and participation structures in the respective social media channel
  • Security of the social media channel for companies using the example of data security and data use.

Justify your assessment of the performance potential of the individual social media channels.