4.5 Strategy Component Participation

The strategy component Participation is divided into the following areas

  • Basics: here you will learn the basics of the strategy component and the derivation of the content.
  • Application: here you will learn the derivation by means of an exemplary procedure (method).
  • Exercises: here you practice the derivation on your own example(s). In the coaching package of the online course you will receive feedback, suggestions and criticism on your exercises.

The learning objective is to

  • Provide participation as part of social media strategy.
  • be able to derive the contents of the strategy component from the defined strategy and the contents of other strategy components.

Reading time: approx. 15 minutes

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


Definition of the strategy component

Participation describes the possibilities that a social media strategy offers in terms of user involvement.

Participation as a strategy component

The participation of social media users depends not least on the content of the strategy and the resulting strategy components.

The better the company succeeds in involving and activating social media users, the higher the probability of success of the strategy and the benefits for the company. Participation is a key success factor for the success of a social media strategy. Without the involvement and participation of social media users, the impact of a strategy falls far short. Not for nothing is it the dream of social media managers that their activities go viral. Without the participation of social media users, this “going viral” is not possible.

In order for social media users to participate, suitable and convincing participation offers are required. A strategy component Participation makes the extent and quality of participation clearer and makes it easier to check the quality of participation in the strategy during strategy development and monitoring.

This importance and the interaction with other contents of the strategy makes it sensible to manage participation as an independent strategy component.

Significance of the strategy component

strategic importance of the strategy component

Participation scales the success of our social media offering and, in turn, the company’s success with social media. Strategically deployed investment opportunities can create competitive advantages. User involvement/participation is a lever that takes the impact of social media strategy to a new level. In addition to the impact of the company resources invested, user participation – corresponding to its nature – affects the success of the social media strategy. Depending on the form and scope of participation, it affects the success of the strategy. Not least for this reason, it is advisable to use this success factor very carefully.

If we use the possibilities of user participation in a limited way and defined by other components of the strategy, the leverage with which our strategy is supported is significantly lower.

Strategic insights for our strategy development

From the options for action for participation, we can derive strategic insights for the design of participation offerings within our own strategy and thus directly shape the competitiveness and economic success of our company in and with social media.

  • Participation can be basically adhoc, regular or permanent. We should take advantage of every opportunity. The higher the value of participation, the less frequently it will be used. For this, the effect of higher-value participation is all the more valuable and important for the social media offering.
  • Because of their importance, higher-value participation offerings should be supported with appropriate motivational tools.
  • Participation increases the time spent in a social media offering. This makes this offer more interesting for users – because more active – and deprives the competition of possible attention, support and, of course, time for participation there.
  • For participation to take place, it must be meaningful for the user, i.e. it must provide an additional benefit that is relevant to him or her. The classic user benefit of the social media offering is not necessarily sufficient for participation. Especially for a higher form of participation, a corresponding additional benefit / motivation is recommended.
  • Participation can be facilitated in a spontaneous or organized way, or in an integrated way. The design of participation opportunities must be correspondingly broad and meaningful.
  • Participation is a proven way to generate activity, but also to tap into the resource of social media.
  • We can differentiate ourselves from other competitive offerings through participation offerings.
practical significance of the strategy component

We define user engagement opportunities as part of our social media strategy. These user participation offerings require appropriate management of their use. Firstly, to ensure the quality of use, especially with regard to the functions of user participation, and secondly, to ensure and manage the benefits that users and companies derive from participation.

Participation and user benefits

It is not very advisable to develop participation offers that do not bring any benefit to the targeted users. They are bound to fail. Unfortunately, this self-evident fact is not always sufficiently taken into account. When developing your participation offers, pay attention to a quickly / immediately recognizable and attractive user benefit and your participation offer will most likely be significantly more successful. If you succeed in designing the UserBenefit with a social component – i.e. to use a UserBenefit that grows with the participation of further users (from the networks of the addressed users), this will have an even more positive effect on the distribution and use of your offer. Starting points for social components are, for example, networking with others (and the benefits that can result), self-expression, or support for projects that are considered meaningful.

A second dimension of user utility related to the development of participation offerings for a social media strategy is the selection effect of user utility. Users respond to a benefit that appeals to them. Depending on which benefit we offer to users, we reach prospects with interest in that benefit.

  • If we do not offer our target groups a user benefit that matches their interests, we will be less likely to reach these target groups and much less likely to win them over for participation.
  • If we use an attractive user benefit, we will achieve

Participation and motivation

Meaningful participation offers that provide users with a recognizable benefit are good and valuable. If the use of these offers is combined with additional motivation, this increases the attractiveness of the participation offer and the expected success. Therefore, when developing your participation offerings, make sure to use motivational methods such as motivational structures wherever it makes sense to do so.

Participation and corporate benefits

User participation in and in our social media strategy should necessarily lead to a benefit for the company. This corporate benefit can come through economic value creation – for example, through savings from forum support or users taking over customer service functions – or through the dissemination of content or the consolidation of customer relationships through other customers. It is essential that we do not neglect the benefits for the company when developing participation offerings. Or we run the risk of foregoing a valuable and effective tool.

Participation and competition

User participation in social media offerings changes their performance potential and, more importantly, their competitive performance. We achieve more attention and participation through user involvement. Most importantly, we are significantly changing the competitiveness of the strategy.

We engage users with our social media strategy and its components. This does not necessarily include only users with an interest in our corporate services, but users with an interest in the user benefits that the participation offerings of our social media strategy address. This allows us – via the corresponding user benefit – to also reach social media users who are not from our customer base.

Sources / fields of participation

The possibilities for user participation are diverse and individual. When looking for participation opportunities, we can limit ourselves to the company’s social media activities or open up company processes to participation opportunities.

Some examples of user participation

Below are some examples of possible user participation. To search for potential user engagement, work through both their planned or existing social media engagement and their business model.

Social media activities
  • Content: Reacting to content, rating, providing feedback for content, distributing content, creating your own content (e.g., knowledge, experience, recommendations).
  • Relationships / networking: building user relationships with each other, building communities, managing user networks, user communities.
Company activities
  • Customer relationship management / support
  • Referral marketing in social media and at the POS
  • Feedback on value propositions


Goals of the strategy component

The strategy component Participation defines the participation offers / participation opportunities for our social media strategy that promise the best effect in the competition / market as well as for the business model and the company goals. The different approaches (effect in the market and competition as well as effect for business model, corporate goals) are incorporated into the development of strategy alternatives.

The goal of participation is the engagement of social media users in the form of defined behavior for a purpose that measurably contributes to the success of the strategy and the company.

The goals are thus the engagement of social media users within the participation offerings in a defined scope and time period. We design participation offerings and corresponding goals to be measurable, i.e., with processes that identify desired participation through social media.

Requirements for the content of the strategy element

The strategy component Participation should describe at least the following topics:

  • Participation requirements from business model, social media affinity, competition, and business goals (sources).
  • Strategic requirements (alignment of the social media strategy)
  • Type and scope of participation sought
  • Benefits of participation for the users
  • Participation goals for the market and competition
  • Goals of participation for the company
  • Resources for the realization of participation
  • Interactions that we should pay special attention to.

Contents of the application

Work steps

  • Step 1: Using the options for action, we have developed suitable approaches for participation offerings, which we are now summarizing.
  • Step 2: we record the participation offers with the best market impact (including sustainability of the impact). As a criterion for this, we use the user benefit from the participation and the competitive quality of the participation offer. We examine which participation offerings enable the best effect and how sustainable / lasting this effect is to be assessed.
  • Step 3: we define the investment offers with the best support of business model and company goals
  • Step 4: we select the investment offer with the best overall performance (market and competitive impact as well as support for business model and corporate objectives).
  • Market Responsible
  • Person responsible for customer relations
  • Responsibility: Social Media Management
  • In case of impact on the business model: Persons responsible for the business model
Process result

Overview of the participation offer and the competitive situation in social media within the relevant topic area.


Content Strategy component Participation.

Resource requirements of the strategy component

In order to be able to determine the resources required for the content of the strategy component, we must first have defined the content and the measures required for it. Once this is done, we can determine the resources needed based on the actions required to enable the intended participation opportunities.

We distinguish the need for resources into the need for building structures. These are primarily one-off resource requirements for setting up the necessary structures. In addition to these needs, we require resources to operate the structures and maintain the participation offerings that are permanent in nature. Make sure to be able to meet both requirements comprehensively. It is of little help if we develop and adopt a strategy that cannot be realized in the long term when it comes to implementation.

Recommendation: It must be possible to implement participation offerings technically. Ensure the manpower required for this in good time (in terms of quality and quantity). Not all developers are fully prepared for all technical requirements from social media. Make sure that technical implementations fully meet the requirements. Compromise is to the detriment of your success.

Risks Strategy component Participation

Risks from the strategy component participation arise in particular from

  • conceptually: for example, we focus more on corporate benefits than on user benefits from participation. The attractiveness of the offer suffers from this.
  • competitive: we offer a minimum level of participation in order not to fall behind the competition. As a result, we are rarely competitive and forgo the competitive effect that participation can bring. If you want to lead, you have to invest more.
  • implementation-related: we are oriented towards standard solutions because this is easier. Thus, we refrain from offering our users the more attractive offer.
  • owed to a static orientation: Competition in a dynamic environment requires constant readjustment and improvement. While our offering may have been the leading one in our industry and a true benchmark at its launch, it will not remain so permanently. The more innovative and, above all, successful an offering is in a competitive situation, the faster it will be copied.
  • resource-related: we have underestimated the required resources and cannot afford technical, organizational or personnel requirements on a permanent basis.

Assumptions and prerequisites Strategy component Participation

We summarize and justify all assumptions on which the content of our strategy component Participation is based. In the case of this strategy component, this includes in particular assumptions concerning the response of users to the individual offerings, but also assumptions about unsecured interest levels of our social media users.

The overview of the preconditions for the success of the strategy component serve to keep these preconditions – or their occurrence – in view during the strategy implementation phase. For this purpose, it makes sense to have these requirements – in one place – clearly defined and, above all, to keep an eye on their occurrence.


The following are some general interactions between strategy components. We derive the individual interactions from the contents of the strategy components.

  • Usage formats and participation: The different usage formats include different forms of user participation. The choice of usage format thus has an impact on the participation available. The user participation options require corresponding possibilities within the usage formats. This interaction inevitably has an impact on the strategy component channels.
  • Reach and participation: Do we develop the reach for our strategy solely from the company’s resources or do we use the participation of social media users for this purpose?
  • Target groups and participation: the individual needs and preferences of target groups are a basis or source for participation opportunities. If we take these into account, we create appropriately relevant participation offerings for these target groups. If we omit to consider usable preferences, the user participation of these target groups will be correspondingly lower.
  • Channels and participation: The performance potential of individual social media channels has a direct impact on the extent of user participation possible in these channels. The requirements for desired user engagement has corresponding implications for the requirements for the performance capabilities of the desired social media channels.
  • Communication and participation: communication – and the functions available for it – have a direct impact on participation and its effect. In the absence of appropriate communication functions that support user participation, their impact will be less than possible.
  • Topics and content and participation: Topics and content have a direct effect on user participation. Once by their individual attractiveness for the users and by the individual benefit that is possible from the participation within a topic for the users. Topics and content offer opportunities for participation by social media users – both in the form of user-generated content but also in the sense of various forms of content curation, i.e. the selection and evaluation of content. Through this participation, we secure not only economic advantages in the production of content, but also a higher acceptance in the target groups, a higher relevance for the target groups and thus a higher quality and last but not least – with appropriate integration and connection to social network and community platforms – also a higher distribution.
  • User benefit and participation: In addition to attractiveness, participation also requires a benefit for the user. If this benefit is missing or if it exists in principle but is not used in the social media strategy, user participation is missed.
  • Motivation and participation: A key motivation for user participation is the benefit that can be achieved for the user. By integrating motivational systems – which make this benefit clearer, for example by highlighting it and linking it to recognition and awards – user participation can be increased. If we forgo this option, we forgo some of the user support.
  • Competition and participation: The participation of social media users can significantly shift the competitive situation – by changing the resource situation and the success possible through participation.
  • Resources and Participation: User participation can require corporate resources – for managing user participation – as well as enable considerable resources through user participation and the resulting success.
  • Goals and participation: The level of user participation can have a significant impact on the success of the strategy.

Work templates – examples

Below you will find examples of worksheets for the different work steps and contents of the strategy component Participation. Take these examples as suggestions and inspiration for developing worksheets for your own strategy.

Working template Participation – Offer of participation

This sample worksheet provides a quick overview of the strategy component content. You will find the most important contents briefly described in one place in this overview. Where necessary, you can describe and explain the individual contents more fully in your own worksheets.

Work template Participation – Overview Contents

This worksheet provides a quick overview of participation activities and their benefits and goals. You can describe the individual participation measures and their design in detail in individual worksheets.

Work template Participation – Measures

The aim of this overview is to map the participation offerings, their measures and resource requirements in one place. This creates the link between actions and resources. The individual presentation of the individual participation offerings, their benefits for users and companies and their measures and goals, in connection with the respective resource requirements for these measures, also facilitates the decision on their implementation or the justification of the resource requirements.

Work templates participation – competitive situation

In an overview like this, you can summarize the participation offers of the competition. Compared with your own investment offerings, you can identify the most important competitors and better assess the competitive situation and the competitive quality of your own investment offerings.

Work templates participation – requirements

Here you can see the overlayer on the requirements of and for other strategy components based on their content and your own participation offerings. This overview reminds us what each strategy component’s content should do to support other strategy components and make the strategy successful overall.

Work templates Participation – assumptions and prerequisites

Defining the assumptions and prerequisites for the success of the strategy component helps us test these assumptions and prerequisites and make sure they are in place. If this is not the case, we must try to change this. If this is not possible, we have to adapt the content of the strategy component so that it can be based on given assumptions and prerequisites.

Work templates Participation – Interactions

We have to keep an eye on the interactions between the respective contents of the strategy components to make sure that these contents do not negatively influence each other and at best support each other. If we detect negative interactions, we note them and the solution to this problem.


You will find the exercises linked in the header under “Materials”.