5.1.0 Strategy Definition Usage: Organization

Learning objectives
  • The learning objective of the module organization is the ability to define corporate goals and social media strategy objectives and to derive any necessary strategy versions.
  • The learning objective of the section is to organize the strategy definition, i.e. the core of strategy development.

Reading time: approx. 12 minutes

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

Initial situation

Let’s start with the information base. We know

  • the corporate benefits that we can realize with social media for our business model and other corporate goals in general.
  • the topics of our business model and possible further corporate goals and their priority and social media affinity
  • the options for action we have for the topics of our strategy / strategy version and the competitive situation within these topics and options for action.

Requirements for strategies

Good strategies are

  • simple structure, or at least as little complexity as possible.
  • useful for the user as well as the company. The strategy is focused on a clear and easily recognizable user benefit and a consistently organized corporate benefit.
  • easy to use – for the user as well as the company.
  • competitive – in the points that are crucial for success – the core strategy components – the strategy must start with a clear competitive advantage that is immediately recognizable to users and convincing in its benefits and ease of use.
  • Weatherable and adaptable: they incorporate identifiable competitive responses and/or can be easily adapted to them if they have not already accounted for that response in advance.

Definitions

Delimitation of strategy options and options for action

  • Options for action show us what is basically possible for the company in the respective situation.
  • Strategy options describe what the company intends to do with these options for action based on its corporate strategy.

Strategy versions: Strategy versions are possible strategies that we develop for different requirements. The goal of strategy versions is to

  • to identify and make clear alternative approaches.
  • To show consequences from priorities and focal points
  • Balance requirements from goals and company resources.
  • Provide decision support on / review of priorities.

Organization of the strategy definition

The way we shape the strategy process in the company decides about

  • the quality and breadth of our information base for strategy development
  • the acceptance and support by the functional areas

From this and from the goal of developing a social media strategy for the entire business model, it is necessary to include the relevant functional areas of the company in the strategy development.

For this purpose we define

  • which areas and stakeholders are involved in this strategy definition
  • which contents are developed in which processes,
  • who is responsible for which steps,
  • who is responsible for which decisions in this process.

Every company has its own corporate culture, its own organizational structure and its own way of organizing things. Therefore, the following information can only be recommendations that must be adapted to company-specific situations.

Areas and stakeholders

In principle, we should also include all areas of the company that are to be supported by the future social media strategy in the strategy definition.

This reduces

  • the danger of operating past the reality of the company as well as
  • the risk that the strategy developed will meet with a lack of acceptance in these areas.

Justifications

Acceptance: Early involvement and participation in the strategy process reduces the need to present and “sell” the developed strategy to the functional areas.

In defining the strategy options from which the actual social media strategy is selected, we should therefore actively involve the business units involved. It would be rather counterproductive for the result, such as the acceptance of the strategy, if the company divisions affected by social media were not on board during this important phase. At the same time, it supports the acceptance of the strategy if the management is visibly “on board” for all functional areas and actively supports the jointly developed strategy.

Resources: This also allows the question of resources to be placed on a broader footing. If those in charge of the business model and the market consider certain activities to be indispensable, it is much more likely that appropriate resources will be allocated to these activities than if these activities were merely a suggestion from social media management.

Knowledge: In the run-up to strategy development – i.e., in the preparatory phase – we also involve all the departments involved because their knowledge and their support are indispensable for our social media strategy and because social media use should also take place in these areas.

Everyone involved should be informed at all times about the processes and their involvement / tasks therein and the status of the strategy development project. Ensuring this is an essential task of the project leader in social media strategy development – i.e., the person responsible for social media. Without this clarity, the project quickly runs into trouble.

The price for this support is the involvement of the functional areas. This, in turn, requires more effort due to the participation itself and the social media understanding of all participants that may first have to be created for this.

Functional areas and participation

Which functional areas should be involved in the development of a company-specific, holistic social media strategy is company-specific. However, all functional areas that are active in the following areas of the business model should be mandatorily involved:

  • Customer segments / customer segmentation
  • Value Propositions
  • Business model channels
  • Customer relations

Depending on the company structure, these are then, for example, marketing communication, VKF, market research, product management, market management, customer service / CRM, distribution / sales.

Tasks

For the integration of the involved areas and their representatives in the process of strategy development, we should clearly define the tasks of these participants. This saves discussions and at the same time ensures that the individual areas and functions of the company are adequately represented. The most important tasks are

  • Participation in building the information base for strategy development. This includes in particular the definition of topics and subject areas and their priority for market success.
  • market knowledge – especially the interests and behavior of the target groups and the competition-
  • Corporate knowledge – the processes in each functional area and the requirements and opportunities for effective social media integration.

When selecting representatives in the functional areas, there is a risk that younger, less experienced employees with less competence will be nominated for decisions due to the topic of social media. This slows down and complicates strategy development and contributes less to the acceptance of the outcome than when strategy development is driven by functional area executives. So when inviting the functional areas, make it clear that the employees nominated for this purpose should have the appropriate decision-making authority. Anything else slows down strategy development and comes at the expense of social media management.

Timetable

A defined roadmap in conjunction with tasks for the individual participants and scheduled milestones/decisions ensures timely implementation of the strategy process.

Developing and implementing this roadmap is the task of social media management.

Information basis of the strategy development

Our strategy development is based on the information from

  • the topics of our markets, the social media options for action and the social media affinity: this information base shows what is generally possible in social media for our business model.
  • the competitive situation: describes the competitive situation in social media and what our strategy must do to be competitive.
  • other corporate objectives, if applicable.

From this information base, social media management extracts the courses of action that are available in social media and offer the greatest benefit to the business model.

Participants, tasks and milestones

Participant

We determined the participants in the strategy development at the beginning. In the information base phase, the tasks were mainly to obtain the information base, i.e. knowledge and estimation.

The strategy definition phase is about deciding which of the possible courses of action should be implemented in a strategy. Here, participants should have the technical and functional competence for this level. This does not mean that the participants of the functional areas decide on the contents of the strategy, but they should be able to assess these decisions, their effects and their acceptance and to represent them in the strategy definition as well as in the functional areas.

Before starting to define the strategy, check whether the functional areas are properly represented in this phase of strategy development, i.e. in terms of both technical and functional competence.

Tasks

The strategy definition

  • defines the goals of the social media strategy – derived from the corporate goals that are to be realized by the strategy.
  • defines the social media goals that must be realized for the strategy to be successful.
  • derives the content of the core strategy components with which the social media goals must be realized in the market.
  • defines the contents of the strategy components that must be realized in the company for the strategy to work.

Social Media Management

The central tasks in the strategy definition are

  • Leading the strategy definition (project management)
  • Responsible for content Objectives (company, strategy, social media objectives)and content Strategy components
  • Responsible for the documentation of the strategy definition

Participants functional areas

The central tasks of the participants of the functional areas in the strategy definition are as follows

  • Bringing in the market competence of the functional areas
  • Contribute functional expertise, especially for the design of interfaces between the functional area and social media
  • Internal information of the functional areas about strategy contents and options and their competencies

Milestones of a roadmap (example)

As an example, the following are possible milestones of a roadmap for defining the content of a social media strategy

  • Corporate goals / corporate benefits from the social media strategy: Definition of corporate goals in coordination with the functional areas.
  • Strategy goals: Define social media strategy objectives in coordination with functional areas.
  • Social Media Goals: Definition of social media goals for the strategy / core strategy components in coordination with the functional areas.
  • Interfaces social media functional areas: Define the interfaces between social media and functional areas, the KPIs for social media targets, and the handover of results from social media to functional areas.
  • Content of core strategy components (optional): If we coordinate the content of the core strategy components with the functional areas, the risk of later opposition or need for coordination is low, but there is a likelihood that the functional areas will also want to have a say in the design of social media content.
  • Content other strategy components (optional): This allows us to make the connection between desires and resources for social media clearer. These resources may have to be reallocated within the company at the expense of other areas.

Decisions

In the context of strategy development, multiple decisions have to be made. When designing the strategy process, we define who makes which decisions. This not only makes the process of strategy development clearer and faster, it also ensures that decisions are made by the people and groups who have the necessary competence to do so.

Guidelines

As a guideline for this, I recommend the

  • Decisions that affect the entire company should be made by those responsible for the company. This includes deciding on the business goals to be realized through social media such as the goals of the company’s social media strategy. Social media management makes proposals – in the form of draft strategies – that are coordinated within the company.
  • Decisions affecting individual divisions are made in consultation with those responsible for those divisions. This includes the topics that should become part of the social medai strategy / a social media strategy blueprint, as well as the priorities of these strategies from a functional area perspective.
  • Decisions concerning the social media strategy drafts and their content and implementation are made by the social media management.

It’s better we pay attention to what impact is actually associated with decisions that are ostensibly pure social media decisions. If possible, before we make the corresponding decisions.

Decisions in the strategy definition process

Corporate goals / corporate benefits of the strategy
  • the concrete benefit of the business model from social media
  • the concrete benefit of further business objectives from social media
Strategy goals / objectives of the social media strategy
  • the objectives of the strategy at the level of the topics
  • the objectives of the strategy at the level of competition
Social media goals / objectives of the strategy components

In the strategy definition, in coordination with the functional areas, we define goals and content for

  • Topics and their competitive position
  • User benefit
  • CorporateBenefits
  • Usage formats
  • Participation
  • Motivation.
  • Communication
  • Target groups
  • Range
  • Resources (optional)

Defining social media goals in coordination with functional areas of the company that are affected by these social media goals contributes to identification with the goals. Defining resources for the strategy in consultation with the functional areas is optional, but helps to ensure acceptance of the resource requirements for the strategy – and the associated benefits for the functional areas.

Problems and their solution / prevention

By involving the functional areas in strategy development, we create greater acceptance for the resulting strategy – provided that this strategy is supported by all stakeholders. This acceptance must be worked out and secured in the work steps.

By placing strategy development on a broad basis within the company, we open it up to different interests and priorities in the development process. This results in possible problems such as

  • overstretched design requirements of the other functional areas: the invitation to participate can easily be misunderstood as an invitation to take the lead in designing the social media strategy. If social media management shows weaknesses in leading the strategy definition, this is a clear invitation to other areas to take initiative. Make the framework of participation clear from the beginning: the functional areas contribute their professional expertise to the strategy definition. They do not define the strategy. Responsibility and leadership lie with social media management.
  • overstretched need for discussion by other functional areas: due to its widespread nature, the topic of social media encourages content-related co-design in the form of proposals for implementations and structures. Anyone who uses social media privately can feel called to help shape the company’s social media use. Limit the sprawling discussions about how one could implement which wish in social media by clarifying the different tasks and competencies from the beginning. Also, not everyone who has bought something can shape the sales / distribution of a company.
  • Priority conflicts between functional areas and with social media management: it is in the nature of things that each functional area assigns the highest priority to “its” topics, benefits and content. This is understandable and comprehensible, but it hinders the development of a market-driven and competitive social media strategy. Make it clear from the start of participation that the functional areas are to contribute their experience and knowledge and make suggestions for priorities based on this. But the functional areas do not set the priorities. This is the final decision of the company management. Based on the options for action in social media, social media management develops the social media strategy that can best meet the company’s overall priorities and be successful in the competitive environment. The priority is clearly on competitiveness in social media.