5.0.0 Strategy definition Basics 1 of 5: Entry, classification and framework conditions

Learning Objective Chapter Strategy Definition: In the chapter Strategy Definition, you will develop the competence to create social media strategies based on the individual performance potential of social media, the individual social media options for action, and the company’s goals.

Reading time: approx. 37 minutes

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

The contents of the chapter Strategy Definition are again divided into the sections

  • Basics: here the basics of strategy definition in the potential-based strategy model are explained like the general framework of a strategy definition.
  • Application: here the practical strategy definition is methodically explained in its individual steps.
  • Exercises: here you practice the individual steps in strategy definition as well as the definition of complete strategy versions.

This section: This section contains an overview of the basics of strategy definition and its process, as well as strategy priorities and strategy alternatives.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Notes on the use of the chapter

The Strategy Definition chapter is the core of strategy development and therefore the core competency you will develop as a Social Media Strategist. In order to achieve a resilient competence in this topic it is necessary that you

  • perform all exercises for the individual work steps comprehensively and completely. “Short versions”, abbreviations or skipping exercises is technically possible in the process, but will fall on your feet sooner rather than later when you use the method in your company.
  • develop several complete strategy versions for your company. It is a milestone to have created a complete social media strategy according to the potential-based strategy model. The competence as a social media strategist consists not least in being able to recognize and define all meaningful strategies.
  • Gaining experience. Strategic competence consists of the ability to develop and evaluate meaningful strategies for all situations. Strategic competence is less about routine and more about experience, i.e. less about repeating the same thing better and better and more about recognizing and adopting the best paths and solutions in new situations. Practice with real-life examples to prepare for a variety of situations. With a first complete strategy you have the ticket to the playing field strategy.

Procedure Chapter Strategy Definition

  1. First, work through the basics topic by topic.
  2. Then you deal with the practical application of the work steps and work through them topic by topic.
  3. You will then work through the exercises for each step.
  4. After that, you will create complete strategy versions for different strategic priorities for your own company.

Introduction to the topic of strategy

Strategy is the approach with which we want to shape reality. What we have to deal with once we decide on this approach is what actually happens. In other words, strategies are not immutably set in stone but are the framework for acting in reality. Strategy determines the direction. Practical implementation determines how well and how far we progress in this direction. Strategy must therefore be designed and managed so flexibly that it can be adapted to the development without giving up the goal. If we have to abandon our original strategy goals, we have made a mistake in strategy development, for example, by misjudging factors and forces (such as competitive reactions, user behavior, the impact of our measures, etc.).

The following quote describes that it is not the plans that are decisive but the ability to quickly adapt plans and strategies to changing situations.

Plans are nothing; planning is everything.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

This insight is particularly relevant for social media. We are in a very dynamic environment. This means that we must also dynamically shape and adapt our strategy accordingly. Social media strategy is not a process that takes place every few years, but a permanent and active task.

Position of social media strategy in corporate strategies

Social media strategy is part of corporate strategies. It serves the business strategy of the company. This means that our social media strategy must support the company’s business strategy.

  • To do this, we should at least know and pay attention to the company’s business model. The business model shows what the company is currently doing to be successful.
  • In addition, we should know and consider the business objectives for the development of the business. These goals define the direction in which the company’s business should develop – especially with regard to the company’s markets and services. So, we should take future focus areas of the company into consideration when developing social media strategies.

Task of the social media strategy

Media strategies do not stand alone in the open, social media serves the company’s success.

The success of a company is based on its business model. In order for our social media strategy and the use of social media to best support the success of the company, our social media strategy should best support the business model.

Knowledge of one’s own business model and the ability to comprehensively support this business model with the performance potential of social media is thus a prerequisite for being able to support the company’s success through social media in the best possible way.

Better or unique – the strategic business decision and the social media strategy

Initial situation

Strategy development takes place – consciously or unconsciously – under a certain orientation. These alignments not only have a far-reaching impact on the earnings strategy but also on the future situation of the company. This is a primary orientation for how we compete. The following decision describes this fundamental directional decision.

Do we want to be better or unique?

Wanting to be better puts us in a permanent competition – a permanent race in which we need enormous resources for a more or less short-term success. We are one of several or many and must constantly strive to be and stay ahead in this competition.

Wanting to be unique sets us apart from others with similar accomplishments. We are not directly comparable. This reduces our competitive pressure and increases our scope in the market. However, the prerequisite for this strategic approach is that we can secure sufficient potential in the market for this uniqueness and that it is possible for us to set ourselves apart in our services in the long term.

Significance for social media strategy and strategy development

  • If the business strategy is focused on better, our strategy must support this approach. That means we have to use social media to generate advantages in comparative competition.
  • If the business strategy is focused on unique, we need to use social media to support and secure that uniqueness.

The biggest possible mistake

The biggest mistake you can make in strategy development is a very basic, structural mistake. It is the wrong understanding of strategy.

  • Strategy is not a plan that we have to strictly follow from A to Z. This approach leads relatively surely to disaster.
  • Strategy is a direction toward a goal that we move toward with a flexible toolbox. This means that we have to recognize as early as possible when our strategy needs to be updated and adapted and also what we do to continue to move towards the target. And last but not least, when our strategy needs to be replaced.

So don’t think of strategy as a secure building built on a firm foundation, but as a method of steering a ship through raging storms, around treacherous cliffs and hidden reefs, and against unexpected adversity to the finish line. Timely course changes may disturb the ego, but they ensure survival. Continuing to follow the actual course with all changes leads to success. Recognizing when this course can no longer be followed ensures survival.

The following recommendations will help you understand and apply strategy.

  • For the success of the strategy, its rapid adaptation is as crucial as its careful elaboration. While we develop a strategy we also develop the skills to react quickly to changes. This is occasionally more important for the success of a strategy than its original quality. Therefore, when developing strategies, always think in terms of alternatives. Every chess player learns to think ahead of moves in order to quickly understand the consequences of a move (of the opponent).
  • A strategy is never truly final. It is elaborated, adopted, applied, adjusted and, with a little luck, successfully completed.
  • When a strategy is adopted, its destruction begins. Through problematic implementation, through actions of competition or other forms of reality. Your task is to prevent this and still make the strategy a success – with or through adjustments.
  • Strategy is never finished. Even if a strategy is successfully completed with skill and luck, this merely leads to a new situation with new requirements and the need for new strategies. Only the strategies change. The game remains.
  • Never give strategies out of hand. Leave their implementation to others, leave them to a very uncertain fate. So ensure their implementation as well.
  • Strategy is at best as well implemented as it is understood. Whoever is involved in the implementation of a strategy should know why they are doing what they are doing and be able to act in a way that is consistent with the strategy.

The best strategy

The best possible strategy gives you the security of being able to react appropriately and quickly to all foreseeable adversities without having to abandon your goal.

In other words, the quality of the strategy is defined not only by the certainty and effort with which a goal is achieved, but also by how well and quickly it can be used to respond to foreseeable problems and possible adversities.

With a strategy of this quality, you know when this or that happens or looms, they can react to it in this or that way. They can quickly classify everything that can and will happen and recognize the appropriate reaction for it.

The potential-based strategy model pbsm has the strategy component assumptions and prerequisites in its toolbox. In it, we describe which assumptions and prerequisites apply or must be in place so that the content of the strategy component can contribute to the success of the strategy. This is figuratively described the trajectory in which they must remain so that the flight arrives successfully and without crash at the desired destination. Whenever this is deviated from, we find ourselves in a dangerous situation that requires immediate action. In a good strategy – with the appropriate toolbox – we not only recognize the dangerous situation in time but also know the appropriate options for action.

Strategy definition in social media

Overview of the fundamentals Strategy definition

The following are the individual bases for strategy definition and their significance

BasicsMeaning
Strategy hierarchiesOrder and importance of strategies.
Strategy goals and social media goalsDeriving social media strategy goals and deriving social media goals from strategy goals.
Strategy versionsDeveloping strategy versions to test strategic alternatives and their implications.
Contents Strategy componentsThe strategy components of a strategy, the social media goals of the strategy components and the content with which we realize the social media goals of the strategy components.
Problematic initial situationsExamples of problematic strategic initial situations and approaches to solutions.
Game Changer Social Mediaconsider the structural change potential of social media for companies and its business models and for industries in the strategy definition.
Competition and competitive reactionsUnderstand and use the competitive situation and competitive response as shaping elements in strategy definition.
Customer JourneyUnderstand and use the customer journey as a guide for developing a social media strategy.
OptionsRecognize and consider the options in strategy development.

Understanding the framework of social media

Only if we understand the framework of social media can we develop promising strategies in this environment.

  • In social media, we are dealing with direct performance competitors, attention competitors, and social media platforms.
  • Social media itself is a gamechanger. In other words, social media changes fundamental structures and rules. This affects individual business models as well as entire industries.
  • Social media platforms can claim the same. In advance of strategy development, we should be aware of the special role of social media platforms.

Let’s get into the strategy definition in social media by remembering its quality as a gamechanger and the change potential of social media.

Gamechanger Social Media

It is hardly possible to develop responsible social media strategies without understanding the importance and impact of social media as a gamechanger.

The impact of social media as a gamechanger is no longer entirely new. Some industries have already experienced this impact. From conventional media to tourism industries to social and political institutions, social media’s potential for change has become clear, even if it is far from unleashing its full potential everywhere.

The sources of social media’s potential for change

In addition to the effect of information and communication, social media changes the way people interact and network. If the networking of users and their interaction is added to the effect of information and communication, the effect that is possible with social media is multiplied. Metaphorically described, networking and cooperation behave towards individual activity like the construction of the garden maze of individuals towards a large construction site in the format of a Chinese wall by a more or less temporary community.

Small group – big effect

Great effects can be realized by small activities of many, provided that many users perform this small activity. We know this effect in the form of content that “goes viral”, i.e. is shared by very many other users. If you trace back viral content, you will find a point at which content starts to spread enormously through sharing and thus recommendation by relatively few users (with a high personal active reach).

However, great effects can also be realized by the high engagement of relatively few users. The best-known example of this is Wikipedia. A relatively small group of users – measured in terms of daily users of the platform – created a social media service that shook up the encyclopedia industry.

When we develop social media strategies, we should be aware of its potential on these two levels for our company and – if available – also be able to use it.

Markets are topics

We have learned that markets consist of supply and demand. Which is undoubtedly true. But if supply and demand do not communicate with each other, there is no market. What supply and demand – as market participants – communicate with each other about are topics and content. People talk about products, services, needs, problems, prices, etc.

The strategic significance of social media’s potential for change

Those who are able to occupy and control topics in terms of content have a leading (competitive) position in the market that goes beyond their own customer base and market share. In order to be able to address topics in terms of content, you need reach and content. Both need a platform on which they can work. Without a technical platform on which they exist, reach and content achieve no effect.

  • The first strategic significance of this simple insight: whoever has the leading platform on the topics of a market can influence a market in terms of content. This includes the possibility of forming opinions, but in essence, as we will see below, it goes far beyond that.
  • The second strategic importance of this finding is based on the potential of social media to enable relationships among users. If socially based useful relationships between users on a topic are possible on our – leading – platform, we can generate a network effect through this. In this way, we tap into a market more comprehensively (for us) – via the network effect as a social media resource – than would be possible with our own resources in a comparable period of time. However, if we refrain from creating useful relationships between users where possible, we limit ourselves to pure information distribution, with significantly less user engagement. If we forgo creating socially based value, we forgo the network effect that opens up markets and can thus make our platform the leading platform.
  • The third strategic importance lies in the fundamental neutrality of topics. Topics interest social media users not because they are communicated by company A or B, but because they meet a need or interest of social media users. In principle, therefore, we use topics to reach an entirety that includes our own customers as well as customers of the competition – and the same applies accordingly to interested parties.
  • The fourth strategic importance lies in the digital nature of social media. In essence, it tells us that one supplier is enough to open up a market globally. Combined with a network effect, it enables an offer – as with Google, Amazon, facebook and Co. – to achieve a monopoly-like position.

Understanding and marketing markets as potentials

If we combine these strategic perspectives with another trivial insight – that markets consist of a multitude of customers and thus also a multitude of needs – this results in interesting perspectives for existing and new business models. You don’t necessarily have to address just one part of your customers’ needs. You could also do more. Here we like to meet the objections that one does not have the content, technical, logistical or other competence for this approach. That may be. Unfortunately, neither Jack Ma nor Jeff Bezos addressed these concerns. I think the proof of concept (in the sense of a functioning practical application) and the proof of principle (in the sense of a fundamental possibility) have been quite successful in both cases from an economic point of view. I don’t really regret the fact that Amazon still has a lot of room for improvement at the social media level, given the effect on brick-and-mortar retail.

Strategic perspectives and business models

In order to understand the quality of social media as a gamechanger, we need to understand the markets we address with our business models “more holistically” in terms of their needs and the resulting potentials, and recognize how social media can be used to develop complementary achievable potentials or to market existing potentials more comprehensively.

Why we should do it: Because it can be done, and if it makes economic sense, there is an increasing likelihood that another vendor will do it before us. And thus opens up our markets and potentials for ourselves.

Another strategically interesting aspect of social media for existing business models is the use of social media to secure customer relationships over time. Customer loyalty can become costly if it has to bridge longer periods without generating revenue from these relationships during those times. If we can secure these bridging periods with revenue from other sources, it is easier to finance customer loyalty or create an additional source of revenue from these sources. Please do not necessarily think only of the placement of advertising, even if this should be obvious due to the own business model. You remember – the worm must taste the fish, not the angler.

Social media strategy development without strategic perspectives?

If developing a social media strategy is our goal and our task, it would be ill-advised to ignore the strategic perspectives of social media as a whole and their impact on markets, potentials and business models. So when considering your social media strategy, pay attention to the strategic perspectives described above and examine the implications in terms of opportunities and risks for your company’s existing business model. And feel free to think outside the box of this business model. The most dangerous competition is not always with the direct competitor.

Gamechanger Social Media Company

The quality of social media as a gamechanger is remarkable. Social media has a potential impact on markets and business models that no company should ignore. For this potential to be effective, it must be applied. If no one used social media, this potential would be irrelevant.

The social media we know today was not created by users, but by the first companies that provided users with social media platforms relevant to them. Of course, before that there were personal and private blogs and forums where users exchanged information. The breakthrough in breadth is the result of the large social networks, whose names we almost no longer know today: classmates, sixdegrees, friendster and myspace have prepared the ground for the next generation of platforms (Facebook and Co).

What social media companies have in common is the need to quickly reach a potential that allows them to survive the competition. Since social media is a business model from the digital world, this means the need for global market leadership. Building and securing the potential are the basis of success and existence of social media companies. For both, they need attention and activity. These two factors are very limited.

Strategic background

  • Companies worldwide use global social media platforms to reach social media users and establish “own” presences in the platforms of these companies. At the same time, these companies and global social media platforms (and their operators) are in constant competition for attention. Companies that invest resources in building social media presences in the global platforms, they contribute to attention, activity and growth there, increasing the “indispensability” and their own dependence on these platforms as market access.
  • The business model of global social media platforms is based on creating reach and marketing it. The latter is currently done almost exclusively through advertising, not least because this was the only way for social media platforms to refinance themselves for a long time. With a more or less dominant position in the market and a high dependence of companies on these platforms as market access, an expansion of refinancing is rather a matter of time.

Social media companies are thus an additional gamechanger due to their business model and strategic opportunities.

Strategic relevance for our strategy definition – the problem

  • We also need attention and activity for our social media strategy. This puts us in a competitive situation as soon as we do not generate this attention and activity within the platforms of these social media companies. If we act within the social media platforms, we place ourselves in a relationship of dependency.
  • If there are opportunities to generate potential, this is a chance for social media companies. On the one hand for existing social media companies in order to expand and secure their potential, and at the same time for new social media companies if a niche can be opened up and secured, even if this niche can possibly only be maintained temporarily. For our strategy development, this means that potentials which we exclude for internal reasons can not only be used by competitors in our industry, but also that they may become interesting for social media companies. This could position social media companies between us and these potentials. So for all the potential that social media can unlock, we should also consider this risk.

Conclusion: Unused opportunities in social media are not only open doors for known competitors but also open doors for social media companies. If companies in an industry do not consistently and comprehensively exploit their potential in social media, one social media company is enough to secure this potential. The game of unequal user competition or dependence thus continues. (Unequal competition: media companies can more effectively use the resources of social media from user activity to their own advantage).

For the situation described above but also for all other situations in social media recommendable is the willingness of companies that want to use social media to act like a social media company. How far this is possible within the existing structure of the company or whether this is better done in an outsourced form is a question that can only be decided individually.

Strategy levels – strategy hierarchies

In companies and organizations we find a whole range of very different strategies, but all of them should serve a common goal – the success of the company. The individual strategies result from their respective tasks and their position in the hierarchy of strategies.

We distinguish 3 strategy levels

  • Corporate Strategy: in simple terms, this defines the sector or industry in which the company is active.
  • Business Strategy: to put it simply, this is how we define the business model with which the company is successful or wants to be successful.
  • Functional Strategy: with this we describe the strategies we pursue in the respective functional areas (such as marketing, sales, customer service, product management, etc. etc.).

Social media strategy in the strategy hierarchy

According to this logic, social media strategy belongs to the Functional Strategies level. A special feature arises from the effect of social media for and on business models. Social media can change, destroy or enable business models, so it also affects the level of business strategy. Which is not always recognized in companies, let alone taken into account. If we develop social media strategies solely from the perspective of a functional strategy, we ignore an essential and not entirely unproblematic performance potential – the change potential of social media on and for business models. The more pronounced this potential is for a specific business model, the higher the risk that arises from this neglect.

Note: Provided that it can be competently explained how social media impacts – positively and negatively – on an existing business model and how it can be dealt with constructively, the assessment of the importance of social media with the corresponding implications for this functional area should develop more positively.

Problem Social Media Marketing

Definition: I refer to social media marketing as the use of social media as a function for marketing, i.e. as a marketing tool. In this case, social media is understood as a marketing mouthpiece with content adapted to the channels and the environment.

Problem: If we develop social media strategies from a marketing perspective – that is, from the use of social media as a sub-function of marketing – the problem of limited performance potential increases even further. We suffer a further loss of social media performance potential and increase the risk of the company through social media because we limit ourselves in social media to the transport of marketing content and largely ignore the potential from the integration of users / user engagement. The fact that we build up our own reach when using social media marketing and that users can like, comment and share is due to technical necessity and the offer and rules of external platforms and does not change the nature of social media use.

Perspectives and strategies

Terms

Definition strategy in pbsmSocial media strategy is the term we use to describe a course of action with which we, as a company, exploit the potential of social media in order to achieve – through social media – realizable goals in the market and competition and to reduce the risks that have arisen and arise from social media.

The social media strategy is therefore the specific use of social media that we have chosen from the possible options.

Definition strategic decision, strategic action: Rule of thumb for practice: strategic in decision and in action is what

  • changed the (earnings and growth) potential for our company.
  • influences our competitiveness.
  • concerns / influences the future / sustainability of our company / organization.

Impact and practical use of a strategy: A strategy defines what we want to achieve as goals. Strategy is not something that is done once and then checked off – and sometimes, unfortunately, forgotten – for a long time. Strategy describes and specifies what we (should) do every day. Tactics / Implementation describes how we realize this.

Strategy defines what success we can achieve with our daily actions. Strategy is not rigid and unchanging. It can and must be further developed and changed in practice through action – consciously and unconsciously – since it must react to developments. To do this, we need to identify which developments have which impact on our strategy.

Example of the further development of a strategy: A company recognizes from what is happening in the market the importance of activating users and successfully involves social media users in marketing activities on an ad hoc basis. Once it achieves a greater impact in the market. On the other hand, it taps into additional resources through the participation of users and increases its competitiveness in the market in the short term or permanently - a strategic change. If the company understands this behavior as a strategic change and uses this method - the participation and integration of social media users - systematically (and strategically because of the impact on profitability and competitiveness) it will be systematically more successful.  

Definition of strategy options: We refer to strategy options (in social media) as the alternative strategic courses of action that arise for a company from its individual combination of its own opportunities, market and competition in and through social media. So the different strategies that a company can use for social media the company. From the strategy options we choose the strategy we will follow.

Importance Strategy Options: Strategy options are an important part of strategy development. They show what alternative actions are available and what consequences are associated with each alternative action (strategy options).

Without knowledge of the available options for action / strategy options, the decision for a strategy is hardly responsible.

Excursus: Strategy development from different perspectives: potential, market, company or performance

Definition and importance of strategy levels: We can develop social media strategies for different levels. Depending on the perspective from which we develop a strategy, it will result in a completely different strategy.

  • Explanation Perspective: the point of view or position from which we look at or approach something. Perspective is something “natural”. We take them consciously or unconsciously. It has a certain self-evidence that leads us to accept it as set and not tend to question it. The perspective from which we develop a strategy shapes the direction of that strategy.
  • Meaning: the perspective from which we – consciously or unconsciously – develop a strategy defines what part of potential market success we achieve and how competitive and sustainable our strategy is in the long run. This applies to all strategies but also – and especially – to the development of a social media strategy. This is particularly true because social media not only has the potential to provide comprehensive support for companies and their business models, but also to influence and change them. Social media can also change entire industries – including their business models. Therefore, it is highly recommended to first be clear about the perspective from which we develop a social media strategy.

The following explanations will hopefully make the differences as well as their meaning even clearer:

  • Performance perspective: The topic of strategy development is viewed from the perspective of business performance. That is, consciously or unconsciously, the strategy is designed to support the marketing of one or more of the company’s services. Sometimes social media strategies are developed from a communications perspective. That is, we develop a strategy for communication with the help of social media and understand this strategy – unfortunately – as a social media strategy.
  • Corporate perspective: The company views the development of the social media strategy from a holistic corporate perspective, i.e., the social media strategy should support the company as a whole. Note: There are companies that operate in more or less homogeneous markets. They produce products and services for different applications and also for different target groups, but the differences in the target groups and their behavior are not so serious that these target groups cannot be addressed in a common social media strategy.
  • Market perspective: The company’s perspective is based on one or more markets and the company’s services for these markets. Note: There are companies whose services are aimed at very different target groups. Often the services do not differ fundamentally at first glance, but the target groups differ in their behavior.
  • Potential perspective: The company bases its strategy development on the performance potential of social media.
Advantages and disadvantages of the different perspectives
Strategic quality

We speak of the strategic quality of a perspective because the perspective defines potentials, i.e. it is strategic in nature. If one compares the different performance potential of strategies from these perspectives and assumes that each strategy exploits its individual potential, there remain significant differences in strategic quality between the individual strategies, which can be attributed to the respective perspective.

We speak of a strategic quality of a perspective because different potentials are defined via the respective perspective. If one compares the different performance potentials of strategies from the individual perspectives and assumes that each strategy exploits its individual potential, there remain significant differences in the potential impact of the individual strategies, which can be attributed to the respective perspective.

If we compare the respective perspective with a league, the strategies play in their own leagues, each of different quality.

If we compare the respective perspective with a league, the strategies play in their own leagues, each of different quality. If we transfer the differences to the leagues in football, we could assign the respective perspective as follows

  • Performance perspective: regional league
  • Corporate perspective: 2nd Bundesliga
  • Market perspective: 1st Bundesliga
  • Potential perspective: Champions League

Ultimately, however, the differences in importance and impact are more pronounced for the respective perspectives than for football.

Strategy development from a performance perspective

The performance perspective is the most narrowly defined and has the most limited impact on the success and competitiveness of the company. We focus on additionally supporting the marketing of the company’s existing performance within the markets used through social media.

Disadvantages of a strategy from the perspective of performance

With this perspective, we focus on the obvious view, that is, on what we have in front of us every day – business performance. Unfortunately, we also overlook important opportunities and risks that result from the nature of social media and which, from this perspective, we do not take into account in our strategy development. We recognize that social media is changing the world of communication, but we avoid taking this change into account in our own business and communicate in social media as we did before social media.

Strategies from the performance perspective are not equivalent to developments from the company, market and potential perspectives.

Advantages of a strategy from the perspective of performance

If we use social media from the perspective of performance and do not assume that social media will change performance and the business model – which may even be true in individual cases – it is much easier to use social media. We communicate adapted to social media but in the same direction. The demand for competence as well as for resources turns out to be simpler – especially in the case of competence. No one has to deal with more than the question of how we prepare and contribute content optimally for social media.

Strategy development from the perspective of the company

The enterprise perspective is less limited and creates higher usage than the performance perspective, We focus with this perspective on how we can use social media to support the actual state of the enterprise. In addition, with this perspective, we try to tap into the benefits of social media for the company, especially in terms of more precise addressing of users (the targeting), more concrete definition of potential customers and additional methods of marketing with the help of the recommendation of social media users and influencers.

This perspective does not take into account the impact of social media (in the sense of social media’s potential for change) on performance and the business model. This is a not insignificant risk of this perspective.

Disadvantages of a strategy from the perspective of the company

We develop a strategy that is all the more risky the more dynamic the markets and their social media affinity. Strategies developed from a higher perspective are more powerful systemically.

The more intensive examination of the performance potential of social media and its consequences requires corresponding competencies. The implementation of a strategy itself may involve greater demands on the company’s resources.

Strategies from the performance perspective are not equivalent to developments from the market and potential perspectives.

Advantages of a strategy from the perspective of the company

Strategies from the perspectives of performance and business are easier and faster to develop and can accordingly be deployed more quickly and more straightforwardly.

We have a “one-stop shop” strategy, avoid greater complexity and are also dealing with “clearer” technical and conceptual social media structures and content. This makes the management of the structures much easier and reduces both technical and personnel costs. The company is more clearly on the move in social media. There is less risk of irritating the market with different behaviors.

Strategies from the corporate perspective have an advantage over developments from the performance perspective.

Strategy development from the market perspective

The market perspective includes – in addition to the markets that the company is already working on – market potential that the company has not yet exploited and extends the possible benefits beyond the company’s perspective. The company’s business model and identity will remain unchanged. In this perspective, we understand that social media enables our company to tap into new market potential that was previously out of reach for the company. but do not assume that social media will have an impact on the company’s business model or identity.

Disadvantages of a strategy from the perspective of the market

We need to look a little more broadly at the power of social media and how it can be implemented, and in particular, recognize the opportunities through social media for reaching new markets. This requires more effort in strategy development and corresponding competencies and resources.

Strategies from the market perspective are not equivalent to developments from the potential perspectives.

Advantages of a strategy from the market perspective

The effort required for strategy development is less than for strategy development from the perspective of potential. The company needs to change less. This makes it much easier to implement a strategy from this perspective.

Strategies from the market perspective have an advantage over developments from the performance and company perspectives.

Strategy development from the perspective of potential

The Potential perspective also involves a change in the company’s business model and identity. This initial situation also takes into account new markets accessible through social media, possible new business models, and also a new corporate identity for the company.

Disadvantages of a strategy from the perspective of potential

Developing a social media strategy from a performance potential perspective requires additional competencies (business model and market potential competencies) and resources to implement the strategy. The implementation of the strategy intervenes further in processes and alignments of the company than in strategies from the other perspectives.

Advantages of a strategy from the perspective of potential

A social media strategy that taps the full potential of social media – for the existing business model as well as for adapted or additional business models – offers the company new potential and options for shaping its future, and is therefore much more powerful than strategies developed from the other perspectives.

Not only does the company have far more opportunities and options at its disposal, it also recognizes more risks from social media and can deal with them in a more timely manner.

General meaning

This distinction of perspective in the definition of strategy is not limited to social media, but is a fundamental approach that is not only possible but necessary in times of upheaval and structural change.

An example of this is the change from the perspective of performance to the perspective of potential, using the example of corporate identity from producer to service provider. With this perspective, an automotive company would not "only" produce automobiles, but would also focus on enabling mobility.  

Primacy of corporate strategy

A social media strategy does not serve an end in itself, but rather the success of the company. This goes without saying and explains why the social media strategy is under the corporate strategy.

Change potential of social media

Principle: The corporate strategy sets goals, the social media strategy supports these goals through the possibilities of social media.

This principle is partially broken by the potential for change offered by social media. Social media is also a gamechanger for potentials and business model. We should take this into account in our strategy development. If we consider the change potential of social media on the existing business model, we violate the principle of using the full social media potential for the company. In practice, this leads in the worst case to the development of a social media for a business model that is no longer up to date / sustainable.

Social media as a shaping factor of corporate strategy

  • Social media does not automatically turn corporate strategy on its head, because it can have a lasting impact on or change corporate potential and business models.
  • A corporate strategy that does not sufficiently take social media into account as a shaping factor – due to the performance potential of social media for business models and competitive structures – is no longer up to date.

Transporting this perspective to the level of corporate strategy is one of the most interesting and important tasks of social media management. For which the employees of this area better equip themselves sooner than later with the appropriate competence and the facts and arguments required for this. Learn to recognize, communicate and actively use the potential of social media for business models. The potential-based strategy model provides them with the toolbox to do so.

Complexity of social media strategies

Complexity is an issue for both the social media offering from the user perspective and the social media strategy and its offerings and management from the operator perspective.

  • From the user perspective, a complex social media offering is less easy for users to understand and use than a simpler one. If the user has no reason that is important for him to use the complex offer, he will prefer the simpler one. “Make it simpleW is a still underestimated success factor, which is all the more important the more complex the offer or the content actually is.
  • From a business perspective, a complex social media offering or strategy is a significantly greater challenge with correspondingly higher resource requirements and greater risks. The more complex and multi-layered an offer is, the more can go wrong.

This speaks for a strategy that is as simple as possible and a social media offering that is as simple as possible. Unfortunately, this wish is often contrasted with a reality that does not quite match it. To deal with this – which is a task of strategy development – it helps to take a closer look at the causes of complexity.

External causes of complexity – different markets, needs and customers

Causes: Companies in most cases have more than one specific service, are active in several markets and also often for different needs and customer groups. Covering such a heterogeneous initial situation convincingly with one strategy is like trying to create a tailor-made suit that fits everyone. If we try anyway, we will find that this tailor-made suit doesn’t really fit anyone and doesn’t really please anyone. It’s a similar story with social media offerings. The more intense the competition, the more digital the market, the more precisely the company’s performance should be tailored to the needs of customers. In principle, the same applies to social media.

This problem is a strategic opportunity – because it can reshape competition – provided we use it constructively. The solution to this is a portfolio approach to our social media strategy.

Solution: Strategic social media portfolio is a solution that shapes a problem into a competitive advantage. We know via our analysis of the relevant topic areas (and thus also the markets formed by these topics) which social media affinity each topic area has. I.e. we know, for example, which

  • Usage formats,
  • UserBenefits,
  • Motivations,
  • Participation opportunities

are available or possible. From this overview, we can form possible meaningful strategy approaches for our subject areas, and we can do this for individual subject areas, for groups of subject areas, for entire markets, for growth markets, the cash cows, and so on.

This results in social media strategies tailored to the needs of users via the individual topic areas – as a bundle for an entire market or a sub-market, across markets or covering only a specific segment of a market. This is nothing other than consistent market orientation, without which we fail even more in social media than in traditional marketing.

Once we have taken this step for all our subject areas, we recognize a structure that also shows us what requirements are involved – in terms of resources and, in particular, social media management quality and quantity.

At this point, it seems tempting to relax the strict orientation somewhat and combine or delete areas. This is legitimate as a consideration, as long as we take into account that in the process we are

  • influence the quality of our strategy and mediocre strategies in social media are not a good idea. The user usually has more suitable offers to choose from.
  • forgo the support of markets by social media, i.e. deliberately neglect markets. If this is a conscious decision by the company, you should be able to live with it. Under no circumstances, however, should they make such a decision themselves.

The competitive advantage we unlock with a social media strategy portfolio lies in the more precise alignment of our strategy and its offerings with the topics and the needs behind them, as opposed to a “one size fits all” or a more coarse-grained social media strategy of the competition that is oriented more than corporate realities.

Consequence: Social media is a dynamic environment and this alone requires us to adapt our social media strategy to the development of this environment. At the same time, we should not assume that our competition will not also – sooner or later – act dynamically. In addition, constant competition exists with attention competitors, and social media is a convenient gateway for new competitors to enter our markets. This means that we not only have to keep an eye on the competitive situation in general, but also have to make sure that our portfolio is up to date in all its components. Active portfolio management is indispensable for this reason.

Internal causes of complexity – lack of clarity, unclear goals

Cause and problemIf we are not quite clear where exactly the usp of our social media offers is or we are not quite sure of this usp, we quickly tend to use a whole bundle of possibilities, services and functions – freely thinking that a part of it will already fit.

This only works to a limited extent in social media, because users have little desire to work their way through an overkill of options in order to identify and then use the functions that are relevant to them. Take a look at the successful social media offerings that hit the market after Facebook. Most of them focused on specific services and tried to keep them simple, streamlined and uncomplicated. Unclear benefit perceptions, low focus and a weak benefit from the offer are typical causes for complex offers. A lot does not always help a lot.

In the absence of clear ideas for the benefits of one’s social media strategy for users and businesses and / or the social media performance potential and landscape, a strategy quickly slides into the shotgun approach. You only have to offer enough, then success will come. This, too, must be viewed critically.

A second, less trivial cause for a high complexity of a social media strategy lies in the company and its market structures. If we are dealing with a variety of different markets and services, the complexity can easily explode. This can lead to simplifying social media structures to the detriment of market proximity or to trying to save oneself in a one size fits all perspective. Both can become extremely critical. Strict orientation to market structures and user benefits are ultimately prerequisites for success in the market.

Solution: A clearly defined social media strategy with clear requirements and consistent integration into everyday social media – in pbsm via the strategy components. In addition, social media management must permanently perform the core task – ensuring the implementation and, if necessary, adjustment of the social media strategy. This also includes discontinuing or realigning activities that do not correspond to the social media strategy, if necessary.

Resources and strategy process

The development of social media strategies and the upstream process – the development of strategy options – are always related to the topic of resources.

  • The practical use of social media requires resources.
  • developing social media strategy options requires resources.
  • the feasibility of social media strategies is a question of resources.

Placing the resource question at the beginning of a social media strategy development is fraught with the risk of self-limitation to the point of preventing successful social media use. If the question of resources is raised at the beginning of the considerations, many possibilities of social media for the company may have already been eliminated at the outset. Not asking the resource question is not a solution either.

It is more recommendable to place the resource question in a fixed context to the possible outcome and to limit the resource question in the development process of strategy options only to the question whether the resources recognizably required for this are completely outside the assets of the company. At the same time, we should not completely forget the aspect of social media resources.

Resource question in the pbsm strategy process: we ask ourselves the question of feasibility in the selection of our social media strategy from the possible strategy options and once again in the review of the content of the social media strategy components for their resource requirements.

Deciding on a strategy option as the company’s future social media strategy can only be done knowing the resource requirements and in the context of the impact possible with the strategy option. At the same time, this decision is not a decision of the social media management but of the management. For practical purposes, it is advisable to make the required resource needs of a strategy option and as a prerequisite for success sufficiently clear.