5.0.4 Strategy definition Basics: Content of Strategy Components

Learning Objective: Fundamentals of deriving the content of the core strategy components.

Reading time: approx. 22 minutes

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

Introduction: This section provides an overview of the basics of defining strategy versions and making decisions about the content of core strategy components in strategy development. The individual work steps and their contents of deriving the contents of the core strategy components are discussed in the respective sections.

Important: Before you start defining the strategy, you should understand the strategy components. Knowing the strategy components is a prerequisite for defining the social media strategy. We should know the components of the strategy and their functions before deriving the strategy. We work out the concrete contents of the strategy components with the strategy / strategy alternative.

Strategy development in process

The following are the steps of strategy definition using the potential-based strategy model.

  1. We define the strategic objectives of our strategy.
  2. We develop strategy alternatives / strategy versions with different content focuses (e.g. in topic areas, user benefits, motivation, participation, social media channels and resources) on how to realize these strategy objectives.
  3. We review the quality of the individual strategy alternatives based on the expected impact of the strategy (on the market, competition and business model), as well as the risks in implementation and the resources required for the strategy. We then reduce the number of relevant strategy alternatives based on the results of the review for the final decision by management. Prior to this, we examine the relevant strategy alternatives in terms of their interactions and compatibility of the individual strategy components with other strategy components.
  4. The management decides on the final social media strategy based on the presented strategy alternatives.

The initial situation

The starting point for our strategy definition is our

  • Topics and subject areas for which we define a social media strategy. For these topics, we know their priority for the company as well as the social media affinity of the topics / subject areas.
  • Social media options for action and their competitive quality, i.e., the assessment of what we can realize in competition with the respective social media option for action. The social media action options are available to us for the individual topics / subject areas and for all topics / subject areas.

Before we start defining the strategy, it is recommended to make sure that the initial situation is sufficiently stable. I. e.

  • that all parties involved are on the same level and have the same information.
  • That there is agreement on the topics / subject areas for which a social media strategy is to be created.
  • that the assessment of the company’s options for action – i.e., including priorities and social media affinities – is also in agreement.

Not only do we need a stable basis for defining strategy alternatives, but we should also avoid changing their foundations in the course of strategy definition.

Contents Strategy components

Contents Core strategy components by topic

We define the content of the core strategy components from the objectives of the core strategy components (social media objectives). The social media action items for the core strategy components provide the framework within which we find the content to realize the social media objectives of the strategy components. That is, once we have quantitatively and qualitatively created our social media courses of action, we will find the content there that can be used to leverage our core strategy components to realize competitive advantage within the respective themes.

If we do not find any approaches, we should first look again at the options for action.

Below is a brief table showing requirements for the content of the core strategy components for themes / topic areas .

Topics /Topic areasCore Strategy ComponentOptions for action with possible competitive advantage
Theme AUser benefitA UserBenefit that is relevant to the topics and not yet used by the competition and preferably not easily copied.
Usage formatA usage format that creates the user benefit, enables a user benefit that is not offered by the competition, cannot be copied immediately as a usage format.
Motivation.Motivation methods and structures that support and complement the user benefits, are applicable in the usage format and, if possible, are not yet used by the competition and cannot simply be copied.
Participation.Participation offerings that support and extend the user benefits, correspond to the usage format and, if possible, are not yet used by the competition and cannot simply be copied.

The content of each core strategy component should each individually – and perfectly collectively – provide competitive advantages over the content used by the competition.

Contents according to core strategy components

We know with which content in the core strategy components we can achieve competitive advantages. So we know how to be successful in which topics.

Strategic decision

For a meaningful strategy, we now have to decide which of these opportunities we will use and which we will not. With this decision, we ultimately also decide in which topics – and thus also markets – we do not build up competitive advantages and which parts of our business model do not benefit from social media as they could.

Explanation

In one strategy, we cannot simultaneously realize many different user benefits, usage formats, motivation methods and structures, and participation offerings and structures. That would just be messy, not very useful for the user and hardly successful.

Core Strategy ComponentTopicsContent with possible competitive advantage
User benefitAUserBenefit A
BUserBenefit B
CUserBenefit C
Usage formatAUsage format A
BUsage format B
CUsage format C
Motivation.AMotivation A
BMotivation B
CMotivation C
Participation.AParticipation A
BParticipation B
CParticipation C

Explanation: In this table, which is intended as a schematic example, we have noted the contents that enable competitive advantages through the contents of the core strategy components for the individual subject areas. In this table, we have indicated 3 topic areas with corresponding content for each core strategy component. In practice, it is also likely to be several topics. If we don’t have content that enables competitive advantage, we either note the content that performs best after that, or we leave the corresponding spot blank.

Definition of the contents of the core strategy components

Now it’s a matter of determining which of the content in the core strategy components we will actually incorporate into our strategy / draft strategy.

  • The decision is simple if the same option enables competitive advantage in each core strategy component for each topic area.
  • The decision becomes more difficult the more different content is required to realize competitive advantages with the core strategy components in the topics / in all topic areas.

Criteria

This is a strategic decision because it directly affects the potential for success in parts of the strategy (for specific issues) and for any strategic decision we should use criteria that we agree on with all stakeholders.

The core criterion for the decision is the coverage of the topics we have planned for our strategy. This criterion comes in 2 versions that we work with.

  • Criterion Quantity Subject areas: the content that covers the most subject areas. Here we choose the content with which we can achieve a leading competitive position in most subject areas.
  • Criterion quality subject areas: the content that covers the most important subject areas. Here we choose the content with which we can achieve a leading competitive position in most high-priority subject areas.

Contents remaining strategy components

We define the content of the remaining strategy components predominantly from the content of the core strategy components. You already know these connections.

Examples:

  • Social media channels strategy component: The content of the social media channels strategy component – i.e., which social media channels we use with which functions and for which objectives and tasks in our social media strategy – is defined from the requirements of the user benefits, usage formats, motivation, and participation strategy components.
  • Communication strategy component: The content of the communication strategy component is defined from the requirements and content of the strategy components topics, user benefits, usage formats, motivation, and participation.

Explanation of the definition of contents of the strategy component communication:

The contents of the communication result from

  • the topics we address: Our communication must be within the framework of the topics of the strategy. If it does not, communication and positioning of the strategy do not fit together. This damages the reach and activity, as well as the overall attractiveness and relevance of the social media offering.
  • dem or UserBenefit: the user benefit of the social media offering must be permanently clear in our communication. This can be in the form of update-based communication but also in the form of permanent content and information. Communication can be operator-user based or user-user based – depending on the usage format. It is the task of social media management to formulate this requirement conceptually and strategically and to ensure its implementation in day-to-day business.
  • of motivation: the motivation method and its structures must be integrated into the communication of the social media offer – in every usage format. If this is not done, motivation as a success factor will have a significantly weaker effect or will not occur at all.
  • Participation: Participation offerings must be kept in the awareness of users. This requires integration into the communication of the social media offering. At the same time, the active participation of the users must be supported communicatively – within the framework of the motivation system as well as within the framework of general communication.

Interactions and compatibility

All contents of the core strategy components must be strictly compatible with each other. That is, we examine the interactions between the strategy components. You know the topic from the strategy components.

Be especially careful not to look only for negative interactions, but at least as much for positive interactions in the content of the core strategy components.

As an explanation and reminder, here are references / examples of positive interactions that should come from the content of the core strategy components.

Core Strategy ComponentStrategy componentEffect – interaction and compatibility
User benefitUsage formatthe UserBenefit supports the attractiveness of the usage format. That is, the user benefit is compatible with the usage format.
Motivation.The user benefit has motivating content, i.e. the user benefit arises from the use and thus motivates – permanently – to use the social media offering.
Rangethe UserBenefit supports outreach building and activity.
Participation.the UserBenefit can be used for participation offerings, integrated into them or increased via them.
Topicsthe UserBenefit creates an advantage that comes from the themes of the strategy.
Usage formatUser benefitthe selected usage format supports / enables the selected user benefit. I.e. the usage format is compatible with the user benefit. The user benefit can be realized in the best possible way. If user benefit and usage format do not match, the strategy fails.
CommunicationThe usage format – and its individual implementation – enables and supports the communication required for the user benefit.
Motivation.In the usage format, motivation methods and structures can be comprehensively realized and promoted.
Participation.In the usage format, the desired participation opportunities can be comprehensively realized and promoted.
Motivation.User benefitthe user benefit can be increased via motivational structures and methods. For example, if self-presentation is the user benefit or part of the user benefit, the motivation system should increase this user benefit – for example, through higher visibility, more attractive presentation or award systems.
Participation.User benefitSupport or extension of the user benefit through user activity. Perfect is a viral component with which user benefits are systematically spread by users.

Compatibility of the content of the core strategy components represents how the content works together as a strategy. This means that the mutual influence of the contents of the core strategy components must be taken into account not only between individual strategy components but between all strategy components. This sounds obvious, but it is not an automatic given.

A strategy in which the contents of the core strategy components are optimized for a common purpose has a much higher potential for success than a strategy in which the individual contents are optimally designed for themselves.

Strategic compatibility of the contents of the core strategy components

For the strategy definition, this results in the task of not only keeping an eye on this common alignment to one or more objectives, but also of systematically checking and optimizing it. We call this compatibility (of all the contents of the core strategy components) and their alignment with common objectivesof the social media strategy strategic compatibility because it has great importance for the success of the social media strategy and is therefore strategic in nature.

The objectives to which a strategy is directed are logically found in the objectives of the strategy. In addition, it is advisable to check the content to see how far it fits in with the basic objectives of a social media strategy, such as

  • Building a relevant reach
  • Activation / activity of a relevant range

support. This is also possible in a very pragmatic way. We review the intended content of our core strategy components against the following questions.

User benefit
  • To what extent does UserBenefit support reach building? If the user benefit for the user grows with the growth of the reach – then we have the basis for a viral growth / a network effect. If the UserBenefit does not grow with the growth of the reach, the UserBenefit is growth-neutral at this level. And thus not quite as effective and valuable as a UserBenefit with a potential network effect.
  • to what extent does UserBenefit contribute to reach activity? Does the UserBenefit encourage activity or does it contribute less to regular activity / use of the social media offering. Does the UserBenefit contribute to activity on its own, or does it need external stimulus to contribute to outreach activity?
Usage formats
  • Building reach: Which functions and structures support the building of relevant reach in the selected usage format? How comprehensively is the content of the other core strategy components for building relevant reach supported by the intended functions of the usage format(s)?
  • Activity of the reach: which functions and structures of the usage format ensure the activity of the reach / permanent or regular use of the social media offer? Is the content of the other core strategy components for outreach activity comprehensively supported by the functions and structures of the usage formats?
Participation.
  • Building outreach: how do participation offerings support outreach building? Are there participation offerings that aim to build reach? What benefits do these participation offerings provide to users?
  • Outreach activity: what participation opportunities objectives or positively impact outreach activities? What benefits do users get from these participation offerings?
Motivation.
  • Building Reach: What motivational methods and structures do we use in our strategy design to support building reach? How are these integrated into the corresponding content of the core strategy components?
  • Outreach activity: What motivational methods and structures support ensuring outreach activity, and how are these methods and structures integrated into the content of each strategy component?

Strategy components and their contents and decisions

Each strategy alternative is a strategy in its own right, i.e. it has the same content. We work out the contents of the individual strategy components of a strategy / strategy alternative according to the following scheme / in the following order. The application is dealt with for each strategy component in its own section – i.e. with the strategy components.

Strategy component Topics and subject areas

Content of the decision: we define which subject areas we address with our strategy / strategy alternative.

Significance of the decision: We are defining the playing field in which we want to achieve benefits for the company with social media. Topics that are not part of the playing field (strategy) are not (specifically) supported by social media. We use the themes to focus and limit our social media strategy.

Responsibility for the decision: Social Media Management / Executive Board. The decision which topics the strategy covers and thus which performance the strategy can deliver is a decision that is prepared by the social media management in the form of a recommendation, but should finally – in the context of the selection of the strategy – be made by the management.

Explanation and Notes: We start the strategy development with the topic areas because the topic areas represent the markets that we work with social media. This decision is also a source of strategy versions. For example, we define strategy options with different scope of topics or different priorities for certain topics. Reasons for the general focus are, for example, that we want to align our strategy strongly to future growth markets, or that certain markets will be less relevant in the near future. Or that in certain markets we can achieve rather little impact with social media because the competition in social media makes this unlikely there.

Strategy component UserBenefit

Content of the decision: We then define the user benefit(s) we want to use in our social media strategy. The process for defining/designing the user benefit runs according to these steps: User interestsEffect of the user benefit on the users (especially for reach, attractiveness, motivation, participation) – Competitive qualityFeasibility.

Importance of the decision: UserBenefit is the element of our strategy that should ensure that users participate in the desired way. User benefits are therefore the driving force and success factor of our strategy. The user benefit has a particular impact on the usage formats and the social media channels.

Responsibility for the decision: social media management

Explanations and hints: we can use more than one UserBenefit in our strategy, but we should always make sure that we can maintain all UserBenefits in the long run and that these UserBenefits do not reduce each other’s effect. An “overkill” of user benefits certainly does not cause an overkill in the success of the strategy. For a user benefit to be effective, it must be immediately recognizable and also as directly effective as possible. Neglecting the user benefit is to be avoided for any social media strategy. A user benefit that is as clear as possible and not easily comprehensible, with high relevance for the intended target groups – in the selected topics of the strategy – is a objective to strive for, but one that is not always and certainly not easy to achieve. A good competitive advantage in user benefits therefore has a particularly high place and competitive value.

Strategy component Usage formats

Content of the decision: We determine the usage formats that we consider suitable in the selected subject areas and with the intended user benefits in the competition to ensure the necessary attention and user participation / response.

Significance of the decision: Usage formats also help define the performance potential of the strategy via their performance potential. They are the organizational-conceptual form of the strategy, affect in particular the communication and the extent of user participation and thus the usable social media resources. At the same time, they define the performance requirements for social media channels.

Responsibility for the decision: social media management

Explanations and notes: The usage formats of social media place very different demands on social media management, which sometimes forces adjustments when usage formats change. However, the current setup of social media management should not be a criterion for deciding on usage formats.

Strategy component Participation

Content of the decision: We define the participation opportunities and structures we want to offer in our strategy. In doing so, we pay attention to the user benefits that we employ as well as to the benefits that are created through participation and make sure that participation and user benefits are in a constructive relationship, i.e. that the users also define a recognizable and relevant benefit from participation.

Importance of the decision: Participation creates impact and benefit. The extent to which we integrate relevant and beneficial participation into our social media strategy scales the potential success of our social media strategy and the benefits we receive from social media.

Responsibility for the decision: social media management

Explanations and notes: Participation opportunities require a convincing benefit for the user so that they are accepted and, in the best case, recommended to others. And they require corresponding compelling, ergonomic features to function without frustration. The latter is often a problem if participation offerings and structures are to function in an environment that is not very suitable for them. Especially in external social media platforms, the scope for installing such structures is small or non-existent. This means that we either forego a particularly valuable element of our strategy or we have to create a workaround that enables the use of external platforms and participation offerings.

Strategy component Motivation

Content of the decision: We determined the type and structure of the motivation we use. We take into account the support of the user benefit and the participation through our motivation.

Importance of the decision: the motivation of social media users has a direct impact on the success of a social media strategy. If users succeed in motivating other users, this effect increases accordingly.

Responsibility for the decision: social media management

Explanations and notes: as with participation offerings and structures, when using motivation we have the challenge of practically implementing this success factor into existing social media platforms as well as into day-to-day work.

Strategy component communication

Content of the decision: we define the communication functions and structures of the strategy.

Significance of the decision: Communication is central to success in all usage formats – both in terms of content and communication structures.

Responsibility for the decision: social media management

Explanations and notes: the communication functions and structures are determined by the user benefits, the usage formats, but also by participation and motivation.

Strategy component social media channels

Content of the decision: we define the social media channels of our strategy and their use and tasks.

Importance of the decision: our social media channels involve the implementation of our strategy. Thus, social media channels have a significant impact on the potential success of our strategy. The task is to convey the best possible strategy via social media channels, not to define the strategy that best suits the social media channels.

Responsibility for the decision: social media management

Explanations and notes: the overall performance of our social media channels must meet the requirements of usage formats, user benefits, motivation and participation, and link or transfer the corporate benefits from social media to corporate processes. We have to fulfill this requirement through an architecture of social media channels (social media architecture) to the extent that our strategy can be realized.

Strategy Component CorporateBenefit

Content of the decision: we determine the specific business benefits we want to achieve with our social media strategy and describe how we will transfer the benefits from social media into business processes.

Importance of the decision: By determining the business benefit of our social media strategy, we define a requirement for the strategy’s capability. This requirement must be realized through the interaction of the strategy components and the integration of social media use / strategy into the company processes.

Responsibility for the decision: Social media management / functional areas / company management

Explanations and notes: the essential thing about the content of this strategy component is not only that we define a clear requirement for the benefit of the strategy for the company, but also how this benefit is to be realized in concrete terms.

Strategy component Competition

Content: we record how our strategy shapes the existing competitive situation to our advantage and describe (which) competitive advantages (especially usage formats, social media resources through participation) are created by this strategy.

Meaning: we thus define the claim to competitiveness as a benchmark and describe how this claim can be realized in terms of content. In this way, we directly contrast objectives and realisation and make the competitive performance of the strategy visible at a glance.

Responsibility: Social Media Management

Explanations and notes: this strategy component summarizes the performance we expect from the other strategy components and provides an overview of the competitiveness / competitive performance of a strategy / draft strategy. No additional decisions are required to create the content of the strategy component. However, far-reaching decisions can result from the content of the strategy component – both in terms of changes to other strategy components (to improve competitive performance) and in terms of the entire strategy (for example, redefinition, discarding trash, or final selection).

Strategy component Reach

Content of the decision: we determine what reach(s) our social media strategy should generate (quantity of reach) to enable the desired business benefit and define required structures and activity of the reach (quality of reach). In addition, we define the criteria according to which we measure these variables (KPI)

Significance of the decision: In this way, we define fundamental benchmarks for the success of the strategy.

Responsibility for the decision: social media management

Explanations and notes: The reach depends in particular on the company’s objectives, the intended corporate benefit, the competitive situation and the attractiveness of the social media strategy. That is, we should have defined these contents.

Strategy component Target groups

Content: we record which target groups we address with the respective strategy version, to what extent and with which methods, based on the subject areas and target group interests, and which target groups relevant to the company we do not reach or only partially reach with it.

Significance of the decision: we have an overview of which target groups we are working on with our social media strategy and to what extent.

Responsibility for the decision: social media management

Explanations and notes: this strategy component is informative in nature and facilitates the integration of the social media strategy into the corporate strategy, where action is taken with target groups rather than topics.

Strategy component Resources

Content: we summarize the identifiable resource needs and describe how these resource needs can be met (corporate resources, social media resources).

Meaning: we get an overview of the resource requirements of a strategy and make this strategy – together with the performance potential (company benefit) and the competitive performance (strategy component competition) comparable.

Responsibility: Social Media Management

Explanations and notes: In order to determine the resources required, we must have determined the content and measures of the strategy.

Strategy component objectives

Decision content: we list the objectives of the strategy and, based on the objectives of the social media strategy, we draw up a pyramid of objectives with corresponding KPIs for each social media objective.

Meaning: the objectives of the strategy as KPIs are the guardrails that should provide for the daily work and orientation to the success of the strategy.

Responsibility: Social Media Management

Explanations and notes: we draw the objectives from the measures for the corporate benefit and the measures of the other strategy components with which we are active in social media.

Strategy components Assumptions and prerequisites

Content: We summarize the assumptions and prerequisites underlying the respective strategy version and record how secure and stable this strategy version is.

Meaning: we have an overview of important assumptions and preconditions of the strategy’s success, which we can thus easily keep an eye on and monitor and adjust. In this way, we also recognize a need for adjustment and reworking of a strategy – be it due to our own weaknesses or due to changed conditions.

Responsibility: Social Media Management

Explanations and notes: Not every assumption will come true and not every condition will be permanent. Being able to recognize changes and shifts early and in their significance is valuable for the company’s successful use of social media.

Strategy components Risks

Content: we summarize the identifiable risks of the strategy / strategy alternative

Importance of the decision: the overview of the risks of the strategy and their causes has the importance of a warning system when we keep an eye on these factors and their causes in day-to-day business.

Responsibility for the decision: social media management

Explanations and notes: We focus here in principle on the risks resulting from the content of a social media strategy. At the same time, we should not overlook the fact that we may also be confronted with risks for the social media strategy that do not necessarily result from the content of our strategy, such as regulations of platforms or changes in their services or their competitive quality / existence.

General note: the concrete definition of the contents of the individual strategy components is dealt with in the respective strategy components.

The development of strategy alternatives as milestones on the way to a social media strategy

Strategy alternatives are possible strategies with certain individual focuses. We develop strategy alternatives to review different courses of action / possible strategies. As a rule, different sensible approaches are possible in the individual initial situation of a company due to its options for action in social media. Which of these strategy alternatives promises the better results is not always apparent at first glance. In this case, it is advisable to elaborate the promising strategy alternatives to make their strengths and weaknesses clear.