6.1 Strategy evaluation of social media strategies – Application 1

Reading time: approx. 25 minutes

Learning Objectives: To become familiar with and apply strategy evaluation in the potential-based strategy model pbsm.

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

Application

The task of the evaluation of the strategy drafts is to create the basis for the reduction of the strategy drafts as well as for the recommendation of strategy drafts for the management. After this process, we should be able to justify and explain the quality and benefits of strategy designs, both in detail and as a whole.

In addition, we should have used this process to create agreement on the assessment of the quality of the draft strategies. We create this unity – between the functional areas and with the functional areas – through joint evaluation.

Evaluation of the company benefits from the draft strategy

Task: We hold the enterprise benefit of the strategy draft for the individual modules of the business model like the enterprise goals over the individual topics / subject areas of these sources.

  • Corporate benefits for GM (via GM topics): Corporate benefits for the individual GM modules: leading positions and their sustainability as well as direct benefits of the strategy for corporate processes and performance
  • CorporateBenefits for corporate goals (via corporate goal topics): CorporateBenefits for individual corporate goals: leading positions and their sustainability as well as direct benefits of the strategy for corporate processes and performance.

Implementation: We present the business benefits possible / enabled by the social media strategy / social media strategy draft based on the individual topics / topic areas as well as the source of the topics (overview).

Benefits of the overview: This overview shows us (based on the sources of the topics) which areas of the business model as well as the company goals beyond the business model benefit from the respective social media strategy version (and to what extent).

If we create this overview for each strategy version, we can more easily compare the performance potential of the individual strategy versions for the business model and corporate goals.

For evaluation by the functional areas: It is highly recommended that social media management sees itself as a service provider for the functional areas that are to be supported by social media. It therefore makes sense to accept the assessment of the functional areas as to which strategy version is more recommendable, even if your own assessment – for example, due to the competitive situation in social media, the social media affinity of topics, the complexity of the strategy version or its resource requirements – is a different one and how other versions would be preferred.

Use: we need these overviews and the recommendations developed from them for the evaluation of the draft strategies by the departments.

Our own evaluation of strategy versions: we evaluate social media strategy versions with “social media glasses”. That means we have a different view of the structure of the strategy, its implementation, etc. Our job is to supplement the recommendations of the functional areas with their requirements for implementation in the form of resources and competencies and to sufficiently point out the risks in and through social media for implementation.

A holistic, entrepreneurial view is crucial for the evaluation and selection of a social media strategy. Therefore, social media strategies should be selected by company management, not social media.

Evaluation of the thematic scope of the strategy

Task: we evaluate the topic reach of a strategy as an expression of quantitative performance.

Definition: The topic reach tells how much of all company topics are covered by the respective social media strategy. Since not all topics are necessarily of equal importance, we also record the topic reach Prio, which is the reach of the strategy in the priority topics.

Criteria

  • the relationship of the topics covered by the strategy to all topics of the company.
  • The ratio of priority issues covered by the strategy to all priority issues of the company.

Sources

  • Social media performance potential for the business model and corporate goals
  • Social media options for action

Benefit / Use: The benefit of this insight – how far the respective strategy covers the topics of the business model and the company goals – is to reduce the number of topics and to help management make decisions.

Assessment: The more topics (with priority) are covered by a strategy, the more the strategy can contribute to the company’s success. Whether it then actually does so depends not least on the competitive quality of the strategy and the quality of its implementation.

Explanation: a social media strategy can have a relatively low topic reach but a high competitive quality or vice versa. Which strategy the company will pursue is a business decision, to which social media management contributes decision-making bases and recommendations.

Evaluation of the content of the core strategy components of the strategy.

Evaluation Competitive Position Topics

Competitive position task: we assess what competitive position the social media strategy version is likely to enable within each theme.

Criteria: the competitive position targeted in the strategy, which we can achieve with the respective content for the individual topics, defined according to

  • leading competitive position: we are the leading social media source in the topic.
  • equal competitive position: we are one of the leading sources in the topic with other providers in social media.
  • low / inferior competitive position: we are neither a leader in the subject nor a co-leader with others.
  • Security / risks for achieving the competitive position of the individual topics and sustainability of the competitive position.

Source: Social media strategy, competitive analysis, options for action by topic

Benefit/Use: I.e., we can use it to identify the performance of the strategy for the competitive situation within the themes and furthermore compare the performance of different strategies for the themes as a whole as well as for individual themes. In addition, the selection of topics and their priority in the strategy shows which field we want to shape which competitive situation. From this we can see the performance potential of the strategy for the themes (which are, after all, parts of the markets) in detail and as a whole. We use this insight for individual strategy evaluation and comparison with other strategy versions to reduce strategy versions and filter out the best performing strategy versions for final decision by management.

Evaluation: we evaluate how far the strategy secures the desired competitive position in the topic. Here we pay particular attention to whether the intended contents

  • are competitive in the market. That is, we examine whether this content is competitive or superior to current competitive content and potential responses.
  • are sustainably successful. That is, whether the content with which we achieve our competitive position can be offset by the competition in the short or medium term.

Execution: we compare the desired competitive position in the respective topic area with the possible courses of action and the content selected in the strategy for the core strategy components.

Example overview of competitive positions in the topics

Explanations for the example of the work template competition positiions in the topics

This working template provides an overview of competition quality based on the themes.

  • Topics/thematic areas of the strategy: we list the topics and thematic areas of the strategy. This overview including their priority.
  • We indicate whether the strategy version enables a leading competitive position in the individual topics / subject areas.
  • We note evidence of identified risks or the certainty with which the leading competitive position is achieved through this strategy.
  • We note the GM modules and business objectives from which the respective topics originate.
  • And we note the corporate benefits that should be created in the GM / corporate benefits with the help of this social media strategy.

Benefit: we recognize to what extent the strategy in the individual topics / subject areas enables a leading position in social media. The blanks – where no leading position can be expected from the strategy – show the competitive quality of the strategy.

Usage: This overview helps to better evaluate the individual strategy as a whole and either take it out of the decision or make it a choice for the final strategy decision.

Evaluation of usage formats and competitive position

Task: we evaluate the competitive position resulting from the usage formats / the usage format of the strategy or how the intended usage formats of the draft strategy affect the competitive position.

Criteria: The effect of usage format on competitive position(s). Question: does the usage format enable a (short-term or more sustainable) competitive advantage?

Reminder:

  • a competitive advantage from usage formats arises when we use a usage format that is more powerful in comparison to the competition.
  • a tie and thus no competitive advantage is created if we use the same usage formats as the competition.
  • a competitive disadvantage arises from the usage formats if our intended usage formats are less competitive than the usage formats employed by our competitors.

Implementation: Assessment of the effects from the usage format on the competitive position compared to the usage formats of the attention and performance competitors.

For this purpose, we compare the usage formats of the draft strategy with the usage formats used by the competition (performance and attention competitors) and record whether a competitive advantage, a tie in the usage format or a disadvantage in the usage format arises at the level of the usage formats.

Explanation: Competitive advantages that can be offset in the short term are generally not structural competitive advantages. If the usage format of our strategy (for example, a community) offers a structural competitive advantage over the usage formats of the competition, we have a sustainable competitive advantage. If the usage format of our strategy can be easily replicated or is already (more or less abundant) we have no sustainable competitive advantage from the social media usage format(s) of our strategy.

From this insight, we can conclude whether and how the overall competitive position develops due to the chosen usage format(s).

  • If a competitive advantage arises from the usage formats, this improves our competitive position.
  • if there is a tie in the usage formats, the usage formats of the strategy component do not contribute anything to improving the competitive situation.
  • If we recognize a competitive disadvantage in the usage formats, we must assume a deterioration of the company’s competitive position in social media – and thus a significantly lower contribution of social media to the company’s success.

Sources: Social media options for action

Rating:

Social media strategy drafts that show recognizable competitive disadvantages in structural strategy components – such as usage formats – should better be revised or sorted out immediately. We are thus entering a competition that we cannot win in the long term and investing resources in structures whose contribution to the company’s success is questionable in the long term.

Strategy drafts that show a parity with the competition in the usage format should be examined more closely to see whether we can achieve smaller competitive advantages in the implementation of the usage formats. If this is not to be expected, the strategy should be able to demonstrate sustainable competitive advantages in other core components in order to be promising. If this is not the case, we should either fundamentally revise or rule out this draft strategy.

Strategy designs with structural competitive advantages in the usage format are extremely valuable and promise higher performance. We should re-examine the quality of the competitive advantage in terms of how easily it can be replicated by competitors. If the draft strategy offers structural competitive advantages, at least in the medium term, we should pursue it further and examine how its quality looks in the other core strategy components and what risks may arise from it.

Use / Benefits: we use this insight to select the best performing strategy designs, i.e., to reduce the number of strategy designs and to select the strategy designs to present to management for decision.

Rating Content UserBenefit

Task: we evaluate how well a strategy design exploits the potential of UserBenefits, i.e. how well it employs UserBenefits.

Criteria: meaningful and beneficial UserBenefits (potential) and deployed UserBenefits of the strategy. Impact of UserBenefit on Competitive Position in the Draft Strategy Topics.

Sources: we draw on the social media action options for potential (possible meaningful user benefits) and the strategy component user benefits of the draft strategy. We derive the impact of user utility from its competitive quality.

Execution: we contrast the potential – the meaningful possible UserBenefits – with the UserBenefit(s) of the strategy design and we evaluate the competitive quality of the UserBenefit.

Evaluation of the utilization of the potential: in the comparison of the potential of user benefits and the user benefit(s) of a strategy design, we recognize both how comprehensively the strategy design realizes the potential of user benefits and which user benefits the strategy leaves open. Important unused user benefits are starting points for competition. Thus, we evaluate which portion of the possible and meaningful user benefits a strategy design uses and which it leaves open. For the evaluation, it is helpful to treat the UserBenefits also according to their priority / importance and to assess the chances of competition by unused UserBenefits based on the affected topics and their importance and, of course, the priority of the unused UserBenefits as a whole (risk assessment).

Evaluation Competitive Quality UserBenefit: here we evaluate the competitive quality of the UserBenefit according to whether the intended UserBenefit allows us to have a leading competitive position (for the UserBenefit) or whether we are equal to competitors and less competitive.

Overall evaluation: we summarize in our overall evaluation whether the intended UserBenefit(s) are competitive or offer competitive advantages and whether this UserBenefit is competitive in the long term. A UserBenefit that currently enables competitive advantages but leaves the potential of UserBenefits so wide open that other competitors can outperform this currently leading UserBenefit is worth less than a UserBenefit that enables a leading position and can maintain it, because this largely exhausts the potential.

The assessment of the utilization of the potential is generally dependent on the fact that we have correctly captured this potential.

Benefit / Use: We use these insights to reduce draft strategies – when drafts have significant weaknesses and reworking them does not make sense – to revise draft strategies – where it makes sense to rework the user benefits and for the selection of draft strategies that we put forward as possible final strategies.

Evaluation Content Participation

Task: we determine the extent to which a social media strategy utilizes the participation potential of social media for the company and the extent to which the content of the strategy component Participation contributes to the competitive position in social media.

Criteria are:

  • Exploiting the generally possible and useful participation potential of social media for the topics through the participation potential of the draft strategy.
  • the competitive performance of the content of the strategy component and the quality of its contribution to the competitive position.

Sources are:

  • At best, we have already determined the general individual participation potential of social media as part of the definition of the social media options for action when we worked out the possible options for action for the participation strategy component.
  • we take the intended content from the strategy component Participation of the draft strategy.
  • we work out the competitive performance of the content of the strategy component by comparing it with competitive offers and the potential for participation offers.

Implementation Utilization of the potential: we put the general participation potential of social media for the company. We compare the strategy with the range of shareholdings used and determine which shareholdings with the same or better performance we do not use.

Implementation Competitive performance: we compare the intended participation offer / content of the strategy component Participation with the offers of the competition (performance and attention competitors).

Assessment: Weaknesses in the strategy component Participation do not necessarily have to have an immediate impact. If competitors (attention and performance) act weakly, an only slightly stronger content of the strategy component can provide competitive advantages in the short term. In the long run, however, a weak strategy component can and will affect the performance of the entire strategy for the reasons that follow:

  • if the strategy’s participation offerings are weak, social media support for the strategy (the social media resources) will also be weak – even if the competition is not more powerful. The social media strategy takes place in a closed space but in an excessive competition for attention. If there is no attractive participation offer, interesting topics and offers are waiting elsewhere. We must also expect this negative effect if direct competition also weakens.
  • A somewhat stronger investment offer compared to the competition that remains below potential always runs the risk of being surpassed by a generally more efficient offer as soon as a competitor – performance or offer competitor – recognizes and exploits this opportunity.

Benefits: In the comparative evaluation of different strategy designs based on the participation they contain, we identify the strategies that better recognize and leverage social media resources. Social media resources are both an economic advantage and a competitive advantage. By comparing the contents of a draft strategy, we can see what proportion of the participation potential a social media strategy is using or not using.

By comparing the participation potential and its use, we also identify possible competitive weaknesses and a low social media orientation of strategy drafts. These weaknesses have a negative impact on competitiveness in social media.

The comparison of potential and use also makes risks (from not using the social media resource participation) clearer.

Use: we use these findings to decide whether to exclude, improve, or continue to pursue this draft strategy in this form and incorporate it into the final decision.

Rating Content Motivation

Task: we determine to what extent a strategy design exploits the possible motivational potential and contributes to the competitive position in social media via its competitive performance.

Criteria: how comprehensively the motivation potential is used, how competitive the strategy component motivation of the strategy version is.

Sources: we have worked out the meaningful motivation potential – optimally – for the social media options for action. We take the utilized motivation potential of a strategy design from the strategy component motivation.

Execution: we compare total meaningful motivation potential and utilized motivation potential of a strategy design and evaluate this situation.

  • Implementation Utilization of the potential: we compare the content of the strategy component with the potential from the options for action and evaluate the extent to which the draft strategy exploits the potential of social media for motivation.
  • Execution Competitive quality of the strategy component: we compare the content of the strategy component with the current competitive situation and evaluate whether a competitive advantage and a sustainable contribution to the competitive position is possible from the content of the strategy component.

Evaluation: we evaluate which share of the potential a strategy uses, which share is not used, which consequences can result from the unused share of the motivation potential for the competitive situation (competitive disadvantages) and which negative consequences can result from the unused meaningful motivation potential on the success of the strategy and the success in social media.

Benefits: we identify weaknesses and strengths of the individual strategy design and we identify the best performing strategies by comparing strategy designs.

Usage: we use the assessment to exclude or rework draft strategies and to identify draft strategies that can be proposed to management for implementation.

Rating content social media channels

Task: we determine the extent to which the social media channels of the draft strategy meet the requirements of the core strategy components of the draft strategy and the company benefits.

Sources: Options for action Social media and content Strategy component Social media channels, corporate benefits, usage formats, user benefits, participation, motivation.

Method: Comparison of the requirements from company benefits, usage formats, user benefits, motivation and participation with the corresponding performance of the social media channels used in the draft strategy.

Practical implementation: we list the requirements from the contents of the strategy components UserBenefit, Usage Formats, CorporateBenefit, Motivation and Participation for the social media channels and compare these requirements with the respective services of the channels.

Benefit: we use these insights to reduce the number of strategy versions by eliminating lower performing strategy designs and to define the strategy versions that we can take into management selection.

Evaluation: we evaluate the draft strategy according to the extent to which the requirements of the named strategy components are covered by the selected social media channels. If key requirements from the strategy components for the social media channels are not or only partially met by the intended social media channels of the strategy draft, the strategy is not sufficiently effective. If for example

  • the user benefit cannot be completely realized,
  • the corporate benefits from the social media strategy cannot be integrated into corporate processes from the social media channels without friction or loss,
  • usage formats cannot be sufficiently implemented in the channels,
  • Participation offerings and structures cannot be realized as planned,
  • motivation methods or structures cannot be realized,

the strategy must either be revised and adjusted in this respect – the social media channels used – or removed from the decision.

Assessment of the competitive quality of the draft strategy

As a reminder, we evaluate the competitive quality of a strategy design according to whether and how sustainably competitive positions can be gained and maintained. This should also take into account potential competitive reactions to the core content of our social media strategy design.

Task: Evaluating the competitive quality of a strategy design

Criteria:

  • Priority topics and possible leading competitive positions / share of all priority topics
  • All topics Strategy version and leading competitive position / share of all topics
  • Sustainability of leading competitive positions

To compare the competitive quality of different strategy versions, they should agree on criteria with the business units.

MethodWe compile – for the business model and the corporate goals that go beyond it – the competitive advantages that are possible from the strategy, measured against the competitive position that can be realized with the strategy, according to their topics and evaluate these competitive advantages according to how sustainable they are, i.e. whether they are structural in nature or can be equalized by the competition in the short term. In assessing sustainability, we take into account not only structural competitive advantages but also the possible reactions of the competition.

practical application: We recognize what the respective strategy / strategy version contributes to the competitive situation (in social media) for business model and company goals. We present this finding in an overview.

Example Work Template Overview for Competitive Performance Evaluation of a Strategy

Explanation of the working template: we present for the business model and the company goals which competitive advantages a strategy / a strategy draft in social media can create like – for the individual modules of the business model or the individual company goals. This makes it easy to see in concrete terms what a strategy design can do to support the business model via social media.

Example: We can therefore see from the overview whether and how a strategy design helps to support customer relationships, for example. This would then look – again for example – as follows:

  • GM Business Targets: we have one or more entries for the Customer Relations module of the Business Model.
  • Topics: we have entered for which topics of the customer relationships of the business model this strategy design can build competitive advantages. It makes sense to also indicate the priority of the topics (overall or within the customer relationships) in order to show whether the strategy also builds up competitive advantages for the important topics of the customer relationship.
  • Competitive advantage: we name the competitive advantage – i.e. in which (core) strategy component the strategy design enables a competitive advantage.
  • Notes: we supplement the information about the possible competitive advantage with hints about its quality and sustainability, i.e. whether the competitive advantage is structural in nature and difficult to level out or whether it is more temporary in nature.

Benefit / Use: We need this overview or its findings both for the evaluation of strategy versions by the business units and for recommending strategy versions to management. I.e. we develop the overviews of the expected competitive quality for the evaluation of the strategy versions with the departments and use the competitive quality as a criterion for the subsequent recommendation of strategy versions to the management.

Sources: we draw on the topics from performance potential (all topics and topics with priority) or options for action (achievable competitive positions).

Evaluation: we evaluate the competitive quality of a strategy based on its contribution to the success of the business model and the company’s goals, specifically in this case based on

  • the number of competitive advantages and competitive positions thus enabled.
  • the importance of the competitive advantages it enables (for the business model and corporate goals.
  • the security of competitive positions.

In the latter, we question the assessment of the success possible through the strategy, taking into account the possible reactions of the competition. When evaluating competitive advantages, it is helpful to remember that competitive advantages are rarely permanent.

If a strategy design does not enable leading competitive positions for the business model and corporate goals, this may be due to the competitive situation, i.e. because all possible competitive positions are already so competently occupied by competitors that it seems unlikely or even impossible to realize leading competitive positions. This is not as likely as the omnipresence of some social media platforms makes it seem at first glance. Competitors for one’s own social media strategy are of course not only other providers but also the major social media platforms – as competitors for attention. However, there is no competitor or adversary, no matter how great, that was at all points and in all fields at all times a without any usable weakness. This is also true in social media.

It is far more likely that we are dealing with a strategy design that does not fully recognize or consistently exploit the potential of a situation. In such cases, strategic competence becomes apparent – being able to recognize and exploit relevant weak points. The biggest Goliath can be beaten with small means. The emphasis on can shows that it is the skill that counts.

Exploiting the potential of social media for the company

In order to identify the exploitation of the social media performance potential of a strategy version, we draw on the company’s general options for action and compare these with the services that are to be realized in the respective strategy version. Good documentation of the decision for certain procedures in the evaluation of strategy versions is also helpful here.

Meaning: Why is it helpful to know the exploitation of the social media potential of a strategy?

  • Only if we know how much of the possible potential a strategy uses, we can really evaluate this strategy.
  • If we make very limited use of our company’s social media performance potential, we leave gaps for others to exploit.

As a reminder, we go back to the action items because they describe the general social media performance potential for the specific situation of our business model and corporate goals. Building on this performance potential, we have – based on our focus areas / based on different focus areas – developed various strategy versions, the quality of which we are now evaluating.

To evaluate the exploitation of social media performance potential by each strategy version, we focus on the

  • Performance of the strategy version for the themes – both in terms of the scope of the themes in the strategy versions, and in terms of the competitive quality of the draft strategy in the themes.
  • Assessment of the assumptions and prerequisites and the risks discernible with them, including the risks arising from the complexity of strategy versions

Note: realizing the social media performance potential of social media is the result of strategy development decisions. However, these decisions are generally made from a more specific perspective. In this “summary” we see the overall impact of these decisions on the use of social media performance potential.

Execution: to show the exploitation of a company’s social media performance potential through a draft strategy, we contrast performance potential of the draft strategy with performance potential of social media. To do this, we focus on the content of the core strategy components.

The following is an example of an overview as a working template

Sample work template Exploiting the social media performance potential of a strategy design.

Explanations: we contrast the contents of the core strategy components with the 3 best possible courses of action for our company. With this we recognize

  • how much of the possible performance potential of social media for under companies is exploited by our draft strategy.
  • in which core strategy components the draft strategy falls short of the potential of social media.
  • in which core strategy components the draft strategy has weaknesses that allow the competition to use more efficient offers.

In this comparison, we do not take into account why we decided on the contents of the respective strategy components in the strategy definition. Ultimately, the market won’t do that either. If we have decided – for example, for internal company reasons – to use lower-performing content in individual strategy components, the result of this decision – including the associated risk – becomes clear here once again.

In such a case we have the possibility to change the strategy

  • to cancel altogether. In this way, we avoid proposing a strategy that is underperforming and not competitive in all fields.
  • to be touched up. Where possible, we adapt the strategy design in the non-competitive strategy components so that it is fully competitive.
  • for a decision. We present the draft strategy with all its weaknesses to the management for decision.

The submission of a draft strategy that is not fully competitive may occur for a number of reasons:

  • it was clear during / at the time of the strategy draft that the better options for action could not be realized. For example, for resource reasons. Therefore, it was decided to develop a draft strategy based on the resource situation and to contrast this draft strategy with an alternative with an expanded resource situation and correspondingly higher competitiveness.
  • certain contents were not desired at the time the strategy was defined because they would run counter to other objectives.

Strategy development and dealing with internal conflicts within the company

u003cpu003The development of social media strategies can be subject to a wide variety of internal company influences that affect the content of the strategy. This can be the case, for example, if a strategy differs too clearly from previous approaches and can accordingly be perceived as criticism. Or if strategy content could lead to social media attracting significantly more resources or becoming too independent. u003c/pu003eu003cpu003eIn these cases, it may make sense not to interrupt strategy definition and instead work with strategy alternatives. You save yourself a confrontation halfway through that could endanger the whole project. When the two elaborated strategy alternatives are evaluated – in the project – different views can either be corrected without major damage or the different strategy versions are just brought into the decision with the respective justifications. u003c/pu003eu003cpu003eIn any case, they should avoid failing halfway with the strategy definition. That wouldn’t help the cause (of a competitive social media strategy) or you. Better use alternative solutions to solve problems of the described or similar type. u003c/pu003e

Aim of the evaluation: The aim of our evaluation is to check a draft strategy to see whether it is to be pursued further – i.e. either reworked and incorporated unedited into the decision-making process – or whether it is to be removed from the decision-making process.

Method of evaluation: basically try to start with the best possible strategy. Everything else is significantly riskier. Eliminate underperforming alternatives better before submitting to management. A few notes on this. Strategy drafts the

  • do not enable a leading competitive position either in terms of user benefit or usage format are low-performing alternatives. We will not convince any users with these strategies and we are structurally disadvantaged compared to the competition via the usage format. One prevents us from being successful, the other prevents us from being competitive in the long term.
  • cannot achieve a leading competitive position in any core strategy component are mediocre at best. In a digital competition like in social media, a mediocre strategy is hardly successful and thus not recommended.
  • are expected to have an inferior competitive position in one or more core strategy elements should not actually have made it into the evaluation round. If this is still the case, they should be sorted out or adjusted here at the latest.