5.1.1 Strategy definition application 1: business benefits, strategy versions, strategy goals

  • Learning objective: practical derivation of strategy goals, social media goals and core content of the strategy
  • Reading time: approx. 20 minutes

Initial situation

Let’s start with the information base. We know

  • the business benefits that we can generally achieve with social media for our business model and other corporate goals.
  • the topics of our business model and any other corporate goals and their priority and social media affinity
  • the options for action that 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

  • simply structured, or at least as little complex as possible.
  • useful for the user and the company. The strategy is geared towards a clear and easily recognizable user benefit and a consistently organized company benefit.
  • easy to use – for the user and the company.
  • competitive – in the points that are crucial for success – the core strategy component – the strategy must start with a clear competitive advantage that is immediately recognizable to the user and convincing in terms of its benefits and ease of use.
  • weatherproof and adaptable: they contain recognizable competitive reactions and / or can easily be adapted to them if they have not already taken this reaction into account in advance.

Tasks and work steps

As a reminder: We develop the goals of our social media strategy/strategy versions top-down. To do this, we determine the specific benefits that social media should provide for the company, and based on this and the competitive situation in social media, we define the strategy goals for the social media strategy or the strategy versions if we need to examine alternative strategies. We derive the strategy goals of the strategy/strategy versions from the options for action and the competitive situation of the topics. From these strategy goals, we derive the social media goals for the individual strategy components.

As a reminder: If the analysis of the performance potential of social media on the company’s business model (described in Module 3 Options for action for business models) reveals a relevant potential for change, it is highly recommended to take this potential for change into account by adapting the business model before defining the social media strategy. Otherwise, the strategy will no longer be up to date from the start.

The following tasks with their respective work steps arise for the strategy definition:

  • Definition of the company benefits that we want to realize with the help of social media.
  • Definition of sensible social media strategy versions.
  • Definition of the goals of the social media strategy that should realize this company benefit.
  • Definition of the social media goals for the core strategy components.

Defining the business benefits through the social media strategy

Classification

The business benefit that is to be achieved through the social media strategy is the starting point for defining the social media strategy at the target level.

Strategy hierarchieObjeciivesContentSources/basis
CorporateBenefit of the social media strategyCorporate benefit, topicsSocial media performance potential and social media action options for the topics of the business model and other corporate goals
Social Media StrategyNumber and focus of strategy versionsStrategy versions for different topic sets / corporate benefits and core strategy componentsBenefits of the social media strategy, social media options for the topics of the strategy / strategy versions
Social Media StrategyTopics
Competition positions
The topics of the social media strategy and the competitive positions that can and should be realized in the topics, contents of the core strategy componentsBenefits of the social media strategy, social media options for the topics of the strategy / strategy versions
Social Media ObjectivesObjectives for the die Social Media Strategy ComponentsContents and measures of the strategy components with which the social media goals of the strategy components can be realized.Strategy goals,
Social media options for action on the topics of the strategy / strategy version
Strategy hierarchy, goals and content

We know all the meaningful business benefits that we could realize through social media from the social media action options.

Procedure

Initial situation

  • List of the business benefits that are possible through social media for the individual areas of the business model and other company goals. Source: Analysis of the performance potential of social media for the business model and other company goals.
  • Participants in the functional areas that implement the business model in the company. Source: Decision of the functional areas.
  • Topics of the areas of the business model. Source: Analysis of the performance potential of social media for the business model and company goals.
  • Priorities (suggestions) for the business benefits. Sources: Analysis of the performance potential of social media for the business model and company goals, recommendations of functional areas.

We define – in coordination with the affected functional areas – which of these business benefits must be realized for the company. In such processes, it is advisable to have and keep the initiative. To do this, we create suggestions for the business benefits from our future social media strategy.

Goals of this process:

  • to finally determine which of the possible business benefits within these topics we will realize in our social media strategy.
  • to finally determine which topics must be included in our social media strategy.

General approach:

We start with the essential topics of the strategy. We have defined these using the priorities of the topics.

  • Using these topics, we have the business benefits that are fundamentally possible in these topics.
  • Using this business benefit, we define the core of the strategy (range of the strategy: topics, benefits of the strategy: business benefits).

Practical recommendation: The definition of the company benefits and themes of the strategy should be final at this point. Record this milestone in the development of the social media strategy and ensure that all those responsible for the functional areas are informed of this final decision. This helps to reduce later requests for adjustments

Definition of meaningful strategy versions

Classification

Social media strategy versions are different versions/strategies with which we examine relevant different goals for the use of social media or different options for implementing a social media strategy.

In this stage of strategy definition, these are strategy versions that take into account different goals and priorities for the use of social media (social media strategies).

The aim of using strategy versions is to find out which goals and strategies bring the greatest relevant benefit to the company in social media.

The following overview shows the classification of the definition of strategy versions within the strategy hierarchy.

Strategy hierarchieObjectivesContentSources/basis
CorporateBenefit of the social media strategyCorporate benefit, topicsSocial media performance potential and social media options for action on the topics of the business model and other company goals
Social Media StrategyNumber and focus of strategy versionsStrategy versions for different topic sets / corporate benefits and core strategy componentsBenefits of the social media strategy, social media options for the topics of the strategy / strategy versions
Social Media StrategyTopics
Competition positions
The topics of the social media strategy and the competitive positions that can and should be realized in the topics, contents of the core strategy componentsBenefits of the social media strategy, social media options for the topics of the strategy / strategy versions
Social Media ObjectivesObjectives for the die Social Media Strategy ComponentsContents and measures of the strategy components with which the social media goals of the strategy components can be realized.Strategy goals,
Social media options for action on the topics of the strategy / strategy version
Strategy hierarchy, goals and content

Strategy versions become relevant when we have a variety of possible, sensible strategies open to us. We should also think about examining different strategies before we decide on a strategy that should cover all possibilities. Strategies that can do everything in all areas are usually wishes.

Whether we need strategy versions and which ones they should be depends – in addition to the different goals for the general use of social media – on our options for action for the topics that must be addressed by social media.

Sources for strategy versions are, for example:

Topics
  • we cannot cover all topics in one strategy.
  • we can cover all topics in one strategy, but also integrate other topics.
Company benefits
  • we can realize various company benefits that cannot be realized in one strategy.
User benefits
  • we need more than one user benefit to be successful in competition. These user benefits are not compatible.
Usage formats
  • We can use more than one usage format. Depending on which usage format we use, a different strategy with a different competitive quality results.

Key learning social media strategy versions

If different social media strategies seem equally useful for the company or the company cannot yet decide on a common social media strategy, we work with social media strategy versions.

The decision to use social media strategy versions increases the likelihood of ultimately having developed the best possible strategy, but it multiplies the amount of work involved in developing the strategy

Using strategy versions

First of all, as a warning: As social media management, we are required to keep the number of strategy proposals in the low single digits. This alone can require a lot of persuasion and coordination.

At first glance, it is easier to agree on another strategy version than to reach agreement with the departments concerned that certain focal points such as company benefits and topics or priorities in a strategy play a smaller role or no role at all. This simple solution leads to a higher number of strategies and a workload that slows down strategy development overall and should therefore be avoided. There comes a time in the development of strategies (of all kinds) when it is imperative to focus and rule out alternatives or possible courses of action, no matter how tempting they may be for individual areas of the company. Postponing conflicts over priorities by means of strategy versions is not a solution but creates further problems.

It is the job of social media management to avoid this problem as early as possible. This is achieved through clear guidance of the development process and through clear focus and requirements that must be met so that wishes can become priorities

Notes on practical application

The practical application takes place on the same level as the work step that follows in the overview – the coordination and determination of the company’s benefits and the topics that should be realized/covered in the strategy.

We differentiate between the two work steps in order to make their importance and special features clear.

Recommendations

  • Be critical of the topics. Not every topic that can be helpful for a sales situation has to be the focus of a strategy. Focusing on potential rather than process content helps here. If a topic represents indispensable potential, this indicates a priority in the strategy. If a topic represents an important argument in the decision-making process, this does not necessarily mean that this topic has to be central to the strategy. Act with practical questions such as: “Can I (only) tap into and secure market potential through this topic?”
  • Consistently reduce wish lists of topics. It is sensible and important to start the search for topics broadly at the beginning of the process. And it is essential to condense this broad topic approach to the most important central topics in the development process. These are the topics that represent potential and enable competitive advantages.
  • Retain leadership and initiative. The involvement of specialist departments in and in strategy development is important. This does not mean that you give up initiative and leadership in strategy development and become the “implementing force” for the wishes of the specialist departments. This leads to questionable strategies that – quite rightly – backfire on social media management in terms of implementation and results.
  • Do not delegate conflicts upwards. In deadlocked conflict situations between departments, set a deadline for an agreement. If this is not met, you decide for yourself. This means that the functional areas are obliged to find a solution on their own.

Definition of social media strategy objectives

We define our social media strategy goals based on the benefits of our social media strategy for the business model and other company goals.

To this end, we have prioritized the topics/topic areas in our social media strategy (based on their importance for the success and future of the company).

defined the company benefits that we can realize in these topics.

The “simple” task is to determine which topics and which company benefits should be realized through the social media strategy. The task of social media management here is to develop coordinated suggestions and recommendations, but not to decide.

We use the findings from the social media options for these work steps. In this phase, we finally clarify which of these options for action we will use to develop a strategy/a strategy version.

Strategy hierarchieObjectivesContentSources/basis
CorporateBenefit of the social media strategyCorporate benefit, topicsSocial media performance potential and social media options for action on the topics of the business model and other company goals
Social Media StrategyNumber and focus of strategy versionsStrategy versions for different topic sets / corporate benefits and core strategy componentsBenefits of the social media strategy, social media options for the topics of the strategy / strategy versions
Social Media StrategyTopics
Competition positions
The topics of the social media strategy and the competitive positions that can and should be realized in the topics, contents of the core strategy componentsBenefits of the social media strategy, social media options for the topics of the strategy / strategy versions
Social Media ObjectivesObjectives for the die Social Media Strategy ComponentsContents and measures of the strategy components with which the social media goals of the strategy components can be realized.Strategy goals,
Social media options for action on the topics of the strategy / strategy version
Strategy hierarchy, goals and content

Using the social media strategy goals, we define which topics/topic areas we can and want to achieve which competitive position.

We then use the social media options for action in the topics/topic areas to determine which strategy components we can use to achieve the desired competitive position.

The social media strategy goals therefore contain the

  • topics of the strategy,
  • the competitive position that is to be achieved in these topics
  • and the focal points in the core strategy components with which we can achieve this.

Where we work with different versions of the strategy, it is advisable to name each version to distinguish them – if possible using their differences/focal points – in order to avoid confusion.

Application

Initial situation

  • Corporate benefits that are to be realized through a social media strategy.
  • Topics that must be covered by the social media strategy and in which the corporate benefits are to be realized.
  • Priorities for corporate benefits and topics as input from the specialist departments.
  • Social media options for action in the topics.

Application

Tasks: We must finally define the company benefits and topics and ensure that this combination enables a market- and competitive social media strategy.

To do this, we must define the company benefits and topics of our future strategy. The criteria for this decision are

  • the topics in which we see the opportunity to achieve and maintain the leading competitive position.
  • the company benefits that we can achieve with a market- and competitive strategy.

We can derive these goals of our strategy either from the topics or the company benefits. The procedure based on the company benefits is explained below using an overview.

Desired corporate benefitrelevant topicsachievable
best
competitive position
Realized by
we note a company benefit that we want to achieve with our social media strategy.
Source: Business model, company benefit from the social media strategy (company strategy hierarchy)
We list here the topics that we need to address with our strategy for this business benefit. These are the topics that are relevant for this business benefit.
Source: Analysis of social media performance potential for the business model
Here we note which competitive position we can best achieve in the respective topics.
Source for this: Social Media options for action for the topics.
Here we note how we can achieve this best competitive position, i.e. with which content in which core strategy component.

Explanation:

  • we have a business benefit. For example, customer loyalty through social media or new customer acquisition through social media.
  • In order to realize this business benefit in social media, we use the appropriate topics. In other words, topics that are of high priority for customer loyalty or are important for new customer acquisition.
  • In order for our topics to have an impact in social media, a sufficient competitive position is required in order to be noticed.
  • We note how we build and maintain this competitive position in the last column, where we record the core strategy component(s) with which we create the competitive position.

Notes on practical application

By defining the social media strategy goals, it is decided which part of the business model – and thus which area of ​​the company – is supported by social media, to what extent and with what focus, or not.

  • As mentioned, this decision should not be made by social media management alone. The involvement of the affected areas of the company, including the area of ​​the company responsible for the business model as a whole (usually the management), is essential.
  • The task of social media management is to present coordinated strategy proposals.
  • These strategy proposals are decided upon by company management.

I generally recommend documenting the procedure well. Of course, you can adapt the sequence, but remember that any change to a process requires that you have understood the process content to such an extent that you can change it with knowledge of the effects.

Under no circumstances should you neglect to document the work steps – including the results achieved and those involved.

The following steps should be understood as a “best case” in the sense of an optimally coordinated social media strategy. One of the prerequisites for this is the recognition of the importance of social media in the functional areas and company management.

Corporate objectives Markets / market or customer segments

Work step: Clarification of the company benefits (with their priorities) for existing and new markets (market/customer segments) with those responsible for the markets, in coordination with the management.

Participants: Management of functional areas of markets, social media management, (with knowledge of company management)

Result: desired company benefits and priorities for the topics that are to be supported by social media. Special feature of new markets: If new markets are to be supported by social media, it is necessary to work out the topics of these markets, determine their social media affinity and priority and integrate them into the topics of the strategy.

Record the priorities and company benefits of the value propositions

Clarify the priorities of value propositions via their topics for social media support. This allows us to determine which priorities we set when supporting value propositions in social media. The source of these priorities is management and the functional areas that are responsible for the value propositions, usually product management.

We may have already finally clarified the priorities of the topics of the value propositions in advance – especially when defining the social media options for action. If not, we will do this now at the latest through these work steps.

Work step 1: Record the priorities of the value offerings for existing and, if applicable, new value offerings.

Participants: Management functional areas of value offerings / products / company performance, social media management, (with knowledge of company management)

Special feature of new value offerings: If new value offerings are to be supported by social media, it is necessary to work out the topics of these value offerings, determine their social media affinity and priority and integrate them into the topics of the strategy.

Result: current priorities of existing and possible new value offerings for support by social media.

Work step 2: we transfer the priorities of the value offerings to the topics of the value offerings (if this has not already been done).

Work step 3 (optional) – for new value offerings, we derive the topics of these value offerings analogously to the topics of the existing value offerings.

Priorities and business objectives Customer relationships

As a reminder: Through social media we can establish, intensify, organize and strengthen customer relationships. In addition, we can involve social media users in the development and maintenance of customer relationships, thereby supporting our own resources and raising the quality of customer relationships to a higher level.

Step 1: we clarify the priority of the type of customer relationship for the company. This means that we determine which type of customer relationship has what importance for the company and which type of customer relationship should be aimed for and supported by social media. Important: Here it is important to ensure beforehand that those responsible in the company have recognized the performance potential of social media for existing customer relationships made possible by social media.

We may have already made this clarification in advance of the strategy definition. Otherwise it is necessary to do this now.

The source of this information is the management of the department responsible for customer relations and the company management.

Participants: Management of the customer relations functional area, company management, social media management

Result: Priorities for the type of existing customer relationships and goals/priorities for their further development.

Priorities and business objectives Business model channels

Work step: we clarify the priorities for the channels of the business model. This means that we determine within the company which channels of our business model have which priority – currently and in the future. We need this information for any necessary focal points of our social media strategy (to support the channels of the business model). The source of this information is the management of the specialist department(s) of the company that is responsible for the channels of the business model and the company management.

Participants: Management of the functional area of ​​channels, company management, social media management

Result: Priorities of the existing channels of the business model and goals for their further development

Summary of corporate objectives for topics

In this step, we summarize the topics that are relevant for the social media strategy, if we have not already done so. We therefore create a summary/overview of all the topics that we want to use in social media. Step: we create an overview (list) of the topic areas that we need to work on in order to support our company goals through social media. Make sure that

  • this overview is consolidated, so topics only appear once.
  • the assignment of the topic areas to the individual company goals is maintained.
  • the priority of the topic areas corresponds to the priorities of the company goals.
  • the social media affinity of the topic areas is recorded.

Social media affinity of topics

If we haven’t already done so, we will now at least record the social media affinity of the topics that we address in our social media strategy / strategy version. However, it is much more economical and ergonomic in the process if we clarify the social media affinity in advance when compiling the topics from the business model and reduce the topics accordingly.

Explanation of relevance: If topics in our social media strategy have little importance in social media, we will only have a small impact through these topics in social media.

In practice: Supporting topics with little relevance in social media will have relatively little impact. This means that the resources used for this could possibly be used more sensibly elsewhere.

Competitive situation Topics Corporate objectives

Work steps: we examine the competitive situation within the topics from the previous work step and record this competitive situation accordingly.

Step 1: In terms of content, we determine the competitive situation in the individual topics to get an overview of the competitive situation within these topics and summarize these to form an overall overview for the company goals.

We determine the competitive situation within the individual topics / topic areas via the performance of the competitors in

  • Usage formats: we record the usage formats used by competitors.
  • User benefits: we determine the user benefits used by competitors
  • Motivation: we record the motivation methods and structures used by competitors.
  • Participation: the participation offers and structures of the individual competitors
  • Social media channels: competitors use their own social media channels or external social media platforms

Step 2: We assess the competitive situation based on whether we can offer a service within a topic in the individual areas on which we have determined the competitive situation (usage formats, user benefits, motivation, participation) that

  • can be a leader in the competition because it is fundamentally more efficient than the competition’s offerings. We can achieve our advantages due to a structurally higher performance potential.
  • can be equivalent because we operate with content on the same level. We can only realize advantages through the quality of individual activities.
  • is inferior because the competition operates with structurally more efficient offerings.

Practical tips

The competition sets the bar that we must clear with the content of our strategy. If we cannot offer structurally better services than our competitors in individual topics/topic areas, it is less likely that we will reach a situation within the respective topics/topic areas in which we can strongly support the company’s goals in the long term. The less likely a leading position is within a topic/topic area, the less strongly the company’s goal behind this topic will be supported by social media.

This does not mean that we cannot support the respective company goal through social media. It does mean, however, that we cannot use social media as a permanent competitive advantage for this company goal.

In a situation where our services are structurally of the same quality, we are dependent on the individual quality of our content and activities being constantly higher than that of the competition.

  • Example audience: we must constantly provide better, more useful and more attractive content than our competitors.
  • Example community: our community must provide users with greater benefit in terms of quality – through its functions and management.

Participants: Social Media Management.

Result: Competitive situation in the subject areas of user benefit, usage formats, motivation and participation.

The filter function of social media management

In this phase, social media management is required to create a colorful strategic “wish list” in which all wishes are presented in the most possible way and to compare them with strategic feasibility.

You should keep an eye on and use two filters in particular

  • Competitive situation: Requirements for the realization of leading competitive positions or their actual impossibility.
  • Resource requirements: Covering the resource requirements for complex strategies (for example for a wide variety of company benefits or topics that are not very compatible with one another)