6.1 Strategy evaluation of social media strategies – Application 2

Reading time: approx. 18 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 aggreement – between the functional areas and with the functional areas – through joint evaluation.

Assessment of identifiable risks to the strategy

Assessment of risks from assumptions and prerequisites

Task: we evaluate the identifiable risks of a draft strategy from its assumptions and preconditions, i.e. the assumptions and preconditions on which the draft strategy is based.

Sources: Strategy Components / Strategy Components Assumptions and Prerequisites.

Implementation: we summarize the assumptions and prerequisites of the strategy design and evaluate how secure the assumptions and prerequisites made are

Criteria: Certainty of the assumptions and prerequisites of the strategy design.

Assessment: The aim of the assessment is to identify risks arising from the assumptions and prerequisites of the draft strategy and to take them into account in the assessment of the draft strategy.

Benefit / Use: Assess the quality of the draft strategy and decide whether to pursue, improve or abandon the draft strategy.

Assessment of risks from open competitive positions

Task: we evaluate risks resulting from open market and competitive positions of a strategy design.

Sources: Options for action and content Draft strategy, competitors

Criteria: open competition positions, priority of topics, assessment competition

Implementation: we present the open competitive positions of a strategy draft and assess the risks arising from the open competitive positions.

  • Presentation of the open competition positions according to topics / subject areas including their priority
  • Evaluation of the open competitive positions according to the options for action (for competition) that can result from the open competitive positions according to their potential.
  • Evaluation of open competitive positions according to the likelihood of their use by the competition.

Assessment: we assess the risks from open competitive positions according to their potential and probability.

In assessing the potential, we focus on the impact in the market and on our competitive position.

In assessing the probability of risks, we are guided by the requirements arising from the competitive position, the previous behavior of the competition and the benefit of the competitive position for the competitor.

Benefit / Use: We use this assessment to weed out or rework draft strategies with weaknesses and to keep strong draft strategies on track or into management decision-making.

Compatibility of the strategy draft

The evaluation of the compatibility of strategy designs has the goal to make clear strategy designs in internal conflicts from the contents of the strategy as well as strategy designs with an internal positive dynamic from the interaction of the contents of the strategy. We use this insight to remove critical strategy designs with unresolved internal conflicts from the race as well as to keep strategy designs with an internal dynamic in the race due to their competitive quality.

Task 1: Negative compatibility: Representation of unresolved compatibility problems from interactions.

Criteria

  • negative interactions between the contents of all strategy components

Execution: we check the identified interactions for unresolved negative interactions and create an overview of the internal compatibility of the individual strategy versions in which we present unresolved negative interactions.

Sources: Interactions of the strategy components

Evaluation: For the evaluation of unresolved negative interactions, their cause and effect is decisive. If it is foreseeable that they can still be solved, the evaluation of this problem is not as serious as in the case of an unsolvable negative interaction. This can be the case, for example, in the event of a resource problem, if the company has to build up specialist expertise internally or procure it externally in order to implement the strategy. Structural negative interactions between the contents of the core strategy components are much more problematic to assess. For example, if we are not confident in our ability to realize the qualitative requirements of the core strategy components of the strategy on the social media channels, this jeopardizes the impact and thus the benefit of the strategy.

Benefit/use: Reduction in the number of strategy versions, recommendations to management.

Task 2: Positive compatibility: presentation of positive interactions with strategic significance

Criteria

  • positive interactions between strategy components
  • Reinforcing interactions between core strategy components.

Sources: Interactions of the strategy components

Implementation: we create an overview of positive interactions with a focus on core strategy components and reinforcing interactions. At the same time, we pay special attention to whether the contents of user benefits, participation and motivation support each other. A strategy benefits enormously from a perfect triad of these strategy components.

Evaluation: positive interactions may result from ease of implementation (resources), which is of course helpful per se. Of a more decisive nature, however, are positively reinforcing interactions between the contents of the core strategy components, especially if these are of a structural nature, i.e., if they result, for example, from usage formats or the performance potential of social media channels. More valuable, then, are positive interactions with high market impact.

Use / application: Reduction of strategy versions by comparison with particularly high-performing strategy versions and recommendations for the management for the decision on the final strategy.

Assessment of risks from the complexity of the strategy

Task: we check strategy drafts for their complexity.

Evaluation: Complex strategies are more vulnerable than less complex ones because users do not grasp complex offers as easily as simpler ones. This means that the more complex a strategy is, the more error-prone it is and, above all, the higher the risk that it will be less effective due to its complexity because it overburdens or deters users.

The aim of the evaluation should therefore be to identify the least complex of comparably promising strategy designs.

Implementation: we present the complexity of the strategy design based on the most common sources of complexity. To do this, we determine the complexity based on criteria.

Criteria: for the most important components of the strategy design, we work out their complexity on the basis of criteria that we define ourselves for the individual components. Below are some examples of generally relevant criteria.

  • Complexity UserBenefits: we use several different UserBenefits and / or UserBenefits that come from completely different domains.
  • Complexity of usage formats: the use of a social media offering is based on
  • Complexity of motivation: motivational structures and methods are complex, not immediately recognizable, and their effects are not easy to understand.
  • Complexity Participation: the participation offerings are too complicated in their requirements or too complicated in their technical implementation.
  • Complexity of social media channels: the social media offering is confusing because, for example, it offers different opportunities or benefits on different social media channels or the user has to work with several channels to achieve a desired effect.

Weighting of criteria: we weight the criteria according to their potential disadvantage. In other words, to what extent the success of the strategy design can be affected by this complexity.

Sources: Content of strategy components UserBenefits, usage formats, motivation, participation, social media channels.

Use / Benefits: we use the complexity assessment to weed out draft strategies, revise them or include them in the selection for the final social media strategy.

Evaluation of the dependencies from the strategy

Task: we present the dependencies that arise from a social media strategy draft for the company, evaluate them and assess whether these risks are acceptable. Make sure that you always disclose the risks of strategy drafts.

Criteria: Dependence of the company on the behavior and decisions of third parties, such as platform operators and other companies, such as software providers, on whose performance our strategy depends.

Sources: Contents of the strategy components UserBenefits, Usage Formats, Motivation, Participation, Social Media Channels, Reach.

Execution: we present all identifiable dependencies from the strategy design and assess both their impact and likelihood and our options for action in this case.

Typical sources of dependencies are for the most important strategy components

  • Social media channels: Reach, functions, data access, data security, data sovereignty
  • UserBenefits: Platforms, Functions for UserBenefits, Design of Benefits,
  • Usage formats: Functions for the successful use of usage formats, design of functions and use cases.
  • Motivation: functions, data access, design of motivation and functions
  • Participation: functions, design of participation, access to content, integration in external processes

Typical examples of problems from dependencies are

  • Data law / data protection: we cannot guarantee the legally clean processing of data from our social media strategy.
  • Data security: we cannot guarantee the security of data from our social media strategy.
  • Functional reliability: we cannot ensure the quality or existence of required functions for our strategy.
  • Application security: we cannot assure the quality or existence of applications and platforms for our strategy.

Evaluation: While we cannot avoid dependencies that are actually unavoidable, we must nevertheless disclose them and evaluate them in terms of their probability and evaluations. Dependencies that are actually avoidable should be labeled as such and the avoidability of the dependency – and its price – should be pointed out.

Benefit / Use: we use this insight to weed out draft strategies based on their risks, to revise them, or to pursue them further if the risks allow.

Assessment of the impact on company options

Reminder: by corporate options we mean possible future courses of options of action.

Deciding on a strategy and its content has a direct impact on future courses of action in social media. Management’s decision on the final strategy requires the presentation of the impact on future business options in social media.

Task: Evaluate the impact of a social media strategy on business options (future courses of action).

Criteria: We assess the impact of a social media strategy on future options in social media by asking whether the content of the strategy will influence our future options in social media.

  • reduce: i.e., we will not have any further options beyond this strategy in the core strategy components in the future.
  • expand: i.e., that we can open up or secure further options for the future in the core strategy components through the strategy.
  • define: i.e. the contents of the strategy are also the options for the future.

Execution Reduction of existing options for action: we check for the entire existing options for action for business model and corporate goals which of these options for action will no longer be available due to the contents of the strategy. For this purpose, we ask ourselves for the core strategy components which possible contents are no longer feasible due to the contents of the strategy. Here are the corresponding questions

  • Which of the potentially usable social media usage formats will no longer be available to us after implementing this social media strategy? We do not consider a future complete realignment with a completely different social media strategy in this review, because we conduct this review as an evaluation of the intended/possible social media strategy.
  • Which relevant and important user benefits can we no longer use after implementing this social media strategy because, for example, they can no longer be integrated into our strategy?
  • Which possible participation offerings from our options for action would no longer be available if we were to implement the social media strategy under investigation? We also take into account the technical-conceptual structures for user participation and an increase in the complexity of the strategy.
  • Which motivational methods from the action options would no longer be available if we were to implement the strategy under investigation? In particular, we consider the compatibility of motivation and motivational structures.
  • Which social media channels can we no longer use at all or only to a limited extent with the implementation of this strategy?

The result of this review is an overview of the courses of action that are no longer available with the strategy.

Sources: Social media action options of business model and corporate goals, social media strategy version. Own evaluation of the results.

Assessment: We assess the eliminated options for action on the basis of their competitive quality and their significance for the topics (with priority) of our business model and our corporate goals.

Benefit / Use: we provide management with the impact of the remaining strategy versions on future business options for decision-making on future social media strategy.

Implementation Expansion of existing options for action: We check whether the examined social media strategy enables new options for action beyond the already existing ones. The questions for this are

  • Topics: we check which additional topics relevant to the company can be addressed by the social media strategy.
  • Usage formats: our social media strategy version expands the range of possible usage formats
  • UserBenefits: does the social media strategy version open up additional user benefits (in addition to the existing ones of the options for action)?
  • Participation: our social media strategy expands the possible participation opportunities beyond the existing ones. For example, through appropriate social media infrastructure or more powerful usage formats.
  • Motivation: does the social media strategy expand the range of motivational methods (not very likely) or the range of motivational structures (for example, via a more powerful social media infrastructure.
  • Social media channels: does the socia media infrastructure (combination of social media channels used) envisaged in the social media strategy version expand future enterprise options. This could be the case if we use social media channels that we are free to design technically and conceptually and in which different usage formats, user benefits, participation offerings and motivations can be integrated.

Evaluation: we evaluate the significance of additional business options from the respective strategy version.

Sources: Social media strategy version and own analysis

Benefit / Use: We present the expansion of future business options as a performance component of the strategy version.

Evaluation of the resource requirements of the draft strategy.

As a reminder, we assess identifiable resource needs from the core content of the draft strategy. We use this content for individual evaluation of the strategy as well as for comparison of the strategy version with alternative strategy versions.

Identifiable resource needs include, for example

  • functional requirements (website, social media presence, corporate processes) for user benefit.
  • Requirements for the scope and quality of content and structures.
  • Requirements for the performance potential of social media presences from the usage format or formats, such as technical functions
  • Requirements for the performance potential of social media presences from participation offerings, such as technical functions and processes.
  • Requirements for the performance potential of social media presences from motivational methods and structures such as technical functions and processes.
  • Manpower and skills in social media management
  • Budgets for technology and communication

Task: we evaluate the identifiable resource requirements of a social media strategy design according to its feasibility and the strategy’s competitive performance.

Criteria

  • CorporateBenefits
  • Competitive positions
  • Resource requirements

Implementation: we summarize the identifiable resource needs from the core strategy components. We examine how we can meet these resource needs and compare the resource needs with the business benefits and competitive performance of the strategy design.

Sources: Contents of the core strategy components and their resource requirements, available resources of the company.

Benefit / Use The comparison of the resource requirements and the benefits of a strategy design – measured against the desired business benefit and the competitive position to be achieved by the strategy – is a central element for the evaluation of a strategy design.

We use it to compare different strategy designs to eliminate or revise lower-performing strategy designs and to identify the strategy designs that are candidates as the final social media strategy based on their performance potential from business benefits and competitive performance.

Evaluation: we evaluate draft strategies that have yet to prove themselves in the marketplace during implementation. Therefore, it is recommended that special emphasis be placed on competitive performance in the evaluation. It makes less sense to favor a strategy that is weaker in the market because of its slightly lower resource requirements, because in social media we are much more clearly penalized for strategies with weaker competitive performance due to the specific competition.

Big Pictures – the representation

Big Pictures serve as an overview. They represent the situation on the basis of which we decide on the contents of our strategy / draft strategy. They are based in principle on

  • the topics / subject areas that our strategy should cover,
  • the priority of these issues,
  • the social media affinity of the topics,
  • the sources of the issues and thus the areas of the business model and corporate objectives that the strategy / draft strategy is intended to support,
  • the core strategy componentsthat we use to define our strategy: User benefits, usage formats, motivation, and participation.
  • the options for action within the themes and core components and their competitive quality as assessed by us.

The big picture is called that because a lot of information is to be communicated at a glance so that a situation can be quickly grasped and its consequences recognized. This goes faster and better with increasing experience / practice.

Format: the amount of content – especially the number of topics and the information about the respective social media courses of action define the size of this image. It is a like in geography. If we want to depict a continent in detail, the image will turn out somewhat larger than if we depict a small village. It is recommended to increase the format of the presentation rather than reduce the quality of the information. If the handy DIN A 4 format is not sufficient – which can be assumed – a larger whiteboard or a corresponding wall can be the better solution. Especially when you want to explain the connections and their consequences to others.

Example Big Picture for a draft strategy

Example Big Picture individual strategy draft
Notes on use
Subject Reach
  • Overall topic coverage: we hold the topic coverage of the draft strategy. To do this, we put the topics in the draft strategy in relation to all of the company’s topics relevant to social media. Source: all topics of the company from the business model.
  • Topic range priority: we have defined all topics of the company with priority for the action options. Now we put the priority issues that the draft strategy addresses in relation to all priority issues.

Practical benefit: We can see here the extent to which a draft strategy covers the topics relevant to the company as a whole and the topics with priority.

This information is particularly relevant in comparison with alternative strategies. We can tell by how far the draft strategy covers our issues or leaves them open.

CorporateBenefits

In this section, we present the specific business benefits to be realized through the strategy design.

For the social media options for action, we have also defined the possible corporate benefits from social media along with the topics. Now we present the business benefits from the strategy design for the different components of the business model.

Of course, we can do this purely numerically, for example, by specifying how many of the possible and desired business benefits for the module of the business model are covered by this draft strategy – for example, 5 out of 6 desired business benefits. Or we list the business benefits that are covered, or not covered. The latter approach is more informative.

Practical benefit: Decision-makers see a concretely formulated benefit and where it should accrue. This helps in the evaluation of the individual strategy design (which benefit for which effort) as well as in the comparison of different strategy alternatives.

Competitive quality

We present in this section the competitive quality of the contents of a draft strategy. We can do this by listing the content and adding the expected competitive performance of that content. We can formulate this expected competitive performance or express it through categories. The latter makes the big picture clearer and can always be explained in more detail when asked.

As categories for the expected competitive performance of a strategy component, evaluating the competitive position it can achieve is a straightforward approach. We describe the expected competitive performance in this case as the expected

  • leading competitive position
  • Competitive position on a par with leading competitors
  • inferior competitive position

Note: if you cannot be absolutely sure that all decision makers involved in the pre-selection or final selection of strategy / strategy designs are familiar with the specifics of digital competitive situations, it is highly recommended to point out that an equivalent competitive position is not very promising.

Note: if you are wondering how strategy designs with equivalent or inferior competitive positions of strategy components can get into an advanced selection, it is because strategies are rarely clearly superior to the competition in all components. For example, because the competition was not incompetent enough to leave important competitive positions open, or the company does not have superior capabilities in all strategy components.

Risks

Presenting the risks of a strategy is not only good practice as part of decision preparation, dealing with the identifiable risks contributes significantly to the quality of strategies.

In the presentation of risks, we should not only name the risks themselves but also their probability and impact. This means that we can only present risks that are likely to occur and risks with a high potential impact, or we provide an overview structured according to probability and expected impact. The latter makes the picture a bit more comprehensive. Which approach is recommended in each individual case is not least a question of the preferences of the recipient group / the decision-makers.

Resources

We present the resource requirements of a strategy version based on personnel requirements, budget and competencies. We can supplement the presentation with information on whether and how this demand can already be met or whether it occurs in addition.

The reference to competencies is appropriate if new competencies or extensive competencies not previously available in the company are required for the social media strategy.

Example Big Picture for several strategy drafts

Comparing multiple strategy designs is more a matter of pre-selection than final decision. It is not really recommended to put a larger number of strategy decisions to decide on the final social media strategy. Those responsible for social media should be able to reduce the number of strategy alternatives to such an extent that a decision can be made between two strategy alternatives.

Example Big Picture various strategy drafts

Notes:

In practice, the presentation of the contents is likely to go far beyond the A4 format. A wide monitor or a correspondingly large projection surface is therefore recommended.

When selecting 1 or 2 final strategy drafts from a group of 5 or more alternatives, the question of priorities assigned to the respective differences / focal points is ultimately decisive.

Depending on the nature of the stakeholders as well as the company, risks or resources are weighted higher than other categories. As a social media representative and as a strategy development project manager, pay particular attention to the competitive quality of the strategy. It is of little use to save resources or avoid any risk if this makes the strategy uncompetitive. And the focus on business benefits is laudable, but the quality of competition determines whether business benefits occur and, if they do, to what extent.