3.0 Social media options for action – definitions, processes, perspectives

Reading time: approx. 15 minutes

Learning Goal: Understand and apply social media courses of action and social media affinity.

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

This section deals with basics. The application is in the derivation of the courses of action for social media.

In this section you will get an overview of

  • The definition and importance of social media courses of action, social media affinity, and the topics and subject areas.
  • The processes for identifying social media courses of action.
  • the importance of the different strategic perspectives from and for which you derive options for action for social media.

Definitions

  • Social media affinity expresses the suitability of markets, needs, issues, brands, services or problems to respond to or be influenced by social media.
  • Social media options for action describe the company’s individual options for using social media in a specific area, i.e., the design options in social media. In the potential-based strategy model, social media options for action are the possibilities that are possible in a topic / topic area on the basis of its social media affinity and that can be realized in competition.
  • In the potential-based strategy model, themes and topic areas are contents and structures that can be assigned to a common content center or a common top handle. Topics take place in different ways in different usage formats. In an Audience, topics are areas to which we create content. In a community, topics stand for the content orientation of the community as a whole or of parts of it.
  • Strategic perspectives is a term used to describe the strategic perspective from which options for action are derived for social media. In other words, with what strategic orientation social media should be used / is used for the company.

Meaning

Social media options for action

Social media options for action are of central importance in the pbsm strategy process. They are a crucial preliminary stage and the content basis of the strategy definition. We develop our social media courses of action for the individual topics / subject areas. In this way, we develop a social media strategy that corresponds more precisely to the market, business model, corporate goals and competitive situation and, last but not least, shows the opportunities and risks of social media more precisely. Which allows us to develop more powerful social media strategies.

Topics and subject areas

Themes and topic areas are a central structure in the pbsm strategy process. The topics / thematic areas ofour strategy describe the field in which the strategy operates.

We structure strategy development according to topics / subject areas because this allows us to

  • Be able to structure markets more finely and process them more precisely. Markets are not operable entities in social media that we can target. We can use themes to address individual areas of markets more precisely. Greater precision in strategy alignment enables more precise impact and reduces costs. This is one of the competitive advantages and unique selling points of the pbsm.
  • Develop a more precise picture with directly usable insights for markets, business model, competition and corporate goals. How perceive the reality in social media much more comprehensive and accurate. This situational awareness is a competitive advantage because strategies developed with it can do better justice to this reality.
  • summarize the requirements from the market, target groups, business model, competition, corporate goals and competitive situation on a common level. We have an end-to-end system that makes social media performance potential, business model, markets, competition, and objectives ascertainable in an end-to-end dimension and applicable in social media. This consistency is a competitive advantage of pbsm.

We derive topics from our company’s business model and corporate goals. Via the topics from the company’s business model and corporate goals, we cover

  • markets (via the customer segments),
  • Company services (via the value propositions)
  • Customers and customer relationships (via customer relationships / value propositions / customer segments)
  • Competitive situation (about the competitive situation within the topics).

from. Topic areas are clusters of topics in a factual context.

Performance potentialBusiness modelOptions for actionSituational AwarenessStrategy and strategy components
TopicsWe recognize which performance potential we can use in which topics. We identify which topics are relevant to support the success of the business model. We recognize which social media courses of action we have in a topicWe recognize what our social media strategy must achieve in the relevant topics in order to be able to support the success of the business model.Our strategy is geared to success in the issues that are crucial to the business model and is set in terms of content.
The function of the topics in the individual modules of strategy development

Social media affinity

Social media affinity is the indicator of the potential impact we can make in social media in a topic / subject area. So social media affinity tells us how much social media can impact a topic, a subject area.

This has a very practical meaning, which a small comparison should clarify

  • in a topic area with low social media affinity, we can achieve less with great effort and brilliant activities – measured in terms of effort – than if we were to make the same effort in a topic area with high affinity.
  • the social media affinity of a topic area thus also tells us whether it is promising to focus on a certain topic area or whether we can achieve more success via another topic area.

Social media affinity is a strategically important indicator because it influences the focus of strategy and the deployment of resources.

In strategy definition, social media affinity also helps us align our strategy with themes and topics. If, for example, we have to reckon with a very low social media affinity in a topic area that is particularly important for the company, it makes more sense to address the market behind this topic area in a different way – in or outside of social media. A deployment of resources commensurate with the importance of the subject area for the company would run the risk of going to waste.

Sources

We define topics and subject areas through the analysis of

  • Business model: this is how we cover the part of the markets that the company is already working on.
  • Company goals: this includes the part of the markets that the company is not yet working on, but wants to work on.

We define the social media affinity of subject areas by analyzing the

  • Communication structures
  • Communication volume
  • Communication content

of the topics. Furthermore, in unclear situations, we additionally consider the user benefits that can be created by social media for these topics. For more content on the application, see the section Action Options – Topics and Subject Areas.

Processes

Social media options for action in the strategy process pbsm

The social media courses of action are the basis of our strategy definition. The options for action show what possibilities the company has in its specific market and competitive situation to support the success of its business model and its corporate goals through social media.

  • The social media action options are derived from the performance potential of social media for topics/thematic areas (representing market, business model, competition and needs) and are the basis of the social media strategy definition.
  • From the social media action options, we derive strategies (different strategy versions for different focus areas).
  • By evaluating the quality and performance of the strategy versions, we find the strategy / strategy alternatives that we propose to the management for realization.

The processes for identifying social media courses of action

We develop our individual social media action options via the following processes. The processes themselves are only listed here and will be covered more fully in their individual sections.

Business model and corporate goals

In the “Business model and corporate objectives” process, we develop the information basis for deciding on the type, scope and focus of support for the business model and corporate objectives of our social media strategy.

  • Content: we determine the topics that stand for our business model and our company goals.
  • Decision: we determine which topics from our business model are relevant for our social media strategy.
  • Impact: With this decision, we define the scope of our social media strategy in the market and for the business model.
  • ExplanationBy deriving the topics of our social media strategy not (only) from the market but from the business model and the corporate goals, we also take into account the form of market cultivation by the company and thus generate a social media strategy that better meets the requirements of the business model and the corporate goals and create a common level for the use of social media that supports all relevant areas of the business model. We take the issues relevant to the market from the customer segments and the value propositions in the business model. In particular, the latter contains the essential issues of the market (needs).

Subject areas and topics

We define the maximum field of action for our social media strategy in the “Topics and subject areas” process. We decide on the topics our strategy addresses, which markets and users we target with social media, and which parts of our business model and which business goals the strategy can maximize.

  • Content: we summarize the topics and themes we want to use in social media. This means that we bring together all the issues from the various areas of the business model and corporate goals. Where possible, we form overarching themes.
  • Decisions: Assigning topics, reducing topics by duplicates.
  • Effects: By grouping all topics together we avoid redundancies and at the same time ensure that no topics are overlooked or lost. By summarizing the topics, we describe the maximum framework of our social media strategy. It is within this framework that we must shape competition.
  • Explanations: at the topic level, both markets and competitive situations can be mapped and processed more precisely in social media. At the same time, we are creating a common “working level” for our social media strategy that reflects the requirements from the modules of the business model and the corporate goals.

Priorities topics and themes

We develop the basis for deciding on the focus and actual scope of our social media strategy in the “Prioritizing Topics for Action” process. That is, we develop the basis for focusing our social media strategy.

  • Content: we determine the individual priorities of the subject areas. Prioritizing topics makes it easier to align the strategy more precisely with the requirements of the business model and corporate goals. The priorities of the topics result from the markets and the business model.
  • Decisions: the prioritization of individual topics and subject areas (in cooperation with the functional areas).
  • Impact: by assigning priorities, we lay the foundation for the direction and focus of our strategy. Low-priority topics – in general – receive less attention and resources in the strategy than high-strategy topics. This narrows the scope / field of action of our strategy and describes the narrower field of action of our strategy. Within this framework, we must be able to shape competition to our advantage.
  • Explanations: the priorities of the themes and topics serve once to focus the strategy. By prioritizing the topics, we also determine the focus of the strategy. Here, the need for different strategy versions may arise – for example, in the case of different reasonably justifiable priorities of topics. It is advisable not to overload the strategy process with a large number of possible strategy versions. The priorities of our topics therefore also define the competitive fields in which we must assert ourselves with our strategy. This results not only in requirements in terms of the scope that we have to cover with our strategy, but also in requirements for competitiveness in these specific topics.

Social media usage formats

In the “Options for action social media usage formats” process, we develop the information basis for deciding on the usage formats of our social media strategy. The Social Media Usage Formats action options define the framework for the content of the Social Media Usage Formats strategy component of our strategy.

  • Content: we determine the possible usage formats of our future social media strategy via the suitability of the topics for the different usage formats and we determine the competitive situation in the topics with the usage formats at the same time.
  • Decisions: Deciding on the suitability of usage formats for the topics of our social media strategy.
  • Impact: by deciding which usage formats are suitable for our social media strategy and to what extent, we establish a structural framework for our strategy.
  • Explanations: By analyzing markets and user behavior, we identify which usage formats are basically possible. We determine the competitive situation at the same time as the usage formats, since we can also determine their competitive quality when analyzing the existing usage formats. By preselecting suitable usage formats, we define a structural component of our strategy.

User benefit

In the “UserBenefit Action Options” process, we develop the information basis for deciding on the user benefit(s) of our social media strategy. The UserBenefit action options define the framework for the content of the UserBenefit strategy component of our strategy.

  • Content: we record which courses of action we have for the user benefit(s) in our markets. That is, which user benefits make sense for our subject areas and are attractive to our targeted social media users. At the same time, we determine the competitive situation in the topics via the user benefits.
  • Decisions: we set the framework for UserBenefits in which we define the relevant and meaningful UserBenefits for the individual topics / subject areas.
  • Impact: with UserBenefit, we define the courses of action for our strategy development for the most important strategy component. Weaknesses in this strategy component have corresponding effects. At the same time, we also define here a part of the competition that our strategy must pass and shape.
  • Explanations: We base our definition of UserBenefits on the subject areas and the benefits they can provide, as well as on the preferences and tastes of our target groups.

Motivation

We develop the information basis for deciding on the motivation(s) and motivational structures of our social media strategy in the “Action Options Motivation” process. The Motivation action options define as the framework for the content of the Motivation strategy component of our strategy.

  • Content: we identify the possible courses of action for motivation and motivational structures in our subjects. We describe both the motivational methods, their contents and the motivational structures aligned with them and their contents. In addition, we keep track of the competitive situation in motivation in the subject areas.
  • Decisions: we determine which motivational methods and structures are suitable and useful for our topics.
  • Impact: in this process we define the room for maneuver we have for the design of the social media strategy component Motivation and at the same time define the requirements for the competitiveness of the content of this strategy component.
  • Explanations: we are also in competition with other providers at the level of motivation. The use of motivational structures and methods makes it possible to shape the competition and, for example, to build up competitive advantages in the event of a stalemate in the competition in other strategy components at the level of motivation.

Participation

In the “Participation options for action” process, we develop the information basis for deciding on the participation offerings and structure of our social media strategy. The Participation action options define the framework for the content of the Participation strategy component of our strategy.

  • Content: we identify the options for action that exist in our markets for investment offers and structures.
  • Decisions: determine appropriate and meaningful participation offerings and structures and their respective competitiveness.
  • Impact: with the content of the strategy component Participation, we also determine how far we use the resources of social media, i.e. how far we can and want to be supported by social media users. Depending on how successful we are here in competing with other providers in our topics, we create leverage for the success of our strategy.
  • Explanations: the support of social media users is a crucial success factor and scales the impact of a strategy. This support through participation depends on the suitability of the topics and the design of the participation offerings.

Overview of social media options

  • Content: we summarize all options for action from all topics in an overview and assess the competitive situation and our own possibilities to win this competition. .
  • Decision: Assessment of the competitive situation.
  • Impact: Overview, orientation and information basis for decisions on the content of the individual strategy components.
  • Explanations: the overview of the possible social media courses of action for the individual topics and the competitive situation.

The topics of social media affinity and themes and subject areas are explained more fully in their own sections. There you will also find the applications and exercises for these topics.

Strategic perspectives for the derivation of options for action

Different perspectives on the use of social media

First, we need to understand why the perspective from which we use social media is strategic in nature.

Strategic perspective on the use of social media.

Decisions or perspectives of action are strategic in nature if they have a direct or indirect effect on potentials.

Depending on the perspective from which we use social media, the market or revenue potential that we address / use with social media changes.

From this realization comes the need to look at the different perspectives on the use of social media. Only when we know what is possible can we derive the most relevant courses of action for us.

Strategic perspectives on the use of social media

Perspective product
  • Orientation: we use social media to help market an existing product(s).
  • Impact: we focus on the potential of the product(s) in social media. Other potentials that may be relevant for the company are ignored.

While the product-oriented perspective can lead to very comprehensive functional use in social media, it has no view of the opportunities and potential to the right and left of the product-oriented perspective. Such strategic “tunnel perspectives” or “blind spots” can turn out to be strategic disadvantages and risks.

Perspective function
  • Orientation: Social media is primarily used to support one or more corporate functions.
  • Impact: we use social media as the function’s perspective with an approach focused on supporting that function. The performance potential of social media is only relevant to the extent that it serves this function. Social media is not understood as an independent potential.

This usage perspective is more often found, for example, in a use of social media for marketing (aka social media marketing). In this context, social media is understood and used in a limited way. This can and inevitably will impact social media success and includes the risk of limited competitiveness in social media and with social media. The limited success can still be considerable. The company becomes more successful through this social media use than without it, but only makes reduced use of the potential overall.

Perspective existing business model / existing potentials
  • Orientation: social media use serves to support the success of the existing business model.
  • Impact: Social media is used holistically at the corporate level – for the existing business model. That is, the company’s benefit from social media is more fundamental and comprehensive. All areas of the business model affected by social media are supported. This increases the competitiveness of the business model and the contribution of social media to the company’s success.

This approach of using social media goes beyond the previous ones and enhances the performance of the existing business model. Competitiveness increases. Possible risks of this perspective result from a tunnel vision that does not perceive the change potential of social media on the existing business model or consciously perceives it as not or not yet relevant.

Perspective new potentials / new business models
  • Orientation: We focus on the holistic performance potential of social media and take into account the ability of social media to unlock potential not only for the existing potential of the company.
  • Impact: we have the most comprehensive view of social media’s performance potential. This view includes not only the support of the existing situation (business model, utilized potentials) but also shows possible options that become realizable through social media (for example in the form of adapted business models, new / additional business models, new / expanded potentials)

The broader the view of the situation and the possible options, the better and more sustainable the resulting strategy can be.

With this broad view of the benefits of social media for the company, we leave the still widely held assessment of what social media can do for companies and the assessment of the importance of social media for the company and thus, of course, the assessment of the importance of social media management for the company. This “step into the light” requires not only courage but also the ability to realize the benefits for the company. In my personal opinion, the training (and perspective) of social media managers that has been the norm up to now is not sufficient on its own for this step – however sensible and necessary it may be in the interests of the company. This is one of the reasons why I developed the potential-based strategy model to support and enable this step. Dealing with the aspects of business models beyond that – in addition to the contents of the pbsm – would definitely be recommended. Just as the involvement of other functional areas and corporate management in the resulting considerations is indispensable.

The strategic perspective in pbsm

The potential-based strategy model pbsm allows to take both the perspective of the existing business model and the perspective with the consideration of new potentials and other business models.

If you decide to take the broader and more comprehensive perspective, which is fundamentally more advisable, when analyzing the existing business model, at least also determine the potential for change of social media on the existing business model and work out where possible – in cooperation with other functional areas and company management – the following

  • alternative business models that include the potential for change of social media on the existing business model.
  • complementary business models enabled by social media alongside the existing business model.

Both approaches can be further considered through appropriate social media strategy versions in strategy development.