7.0 Strategy Management Basics

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Learning Objectives: To learn the basics of strategy management in the potential-based strategy model pbsm.

Why we need active strategy management in social media

Strategy must be present in everyday life. It is not recommended to launch a strategy with a kickoff and some training and then hope for the best, because

  • Strategy is change and is therefore always in danger of not being lived in everyday life.
  • If we don’t constantly pay attention to the fact that a strategy isn’t implemented every day, it won’t be implemented every day.
  • A strategy that does not take place permanently in everyday life does not exist.

People are not perfect. Especially when it comes to change, it is necessary to actively support them. If we don’t do this, we shouldn’t assume that the desired change will occur or be permanent.

Strategy must be preserved. A new strategy is a change. This change must be managed. In addition, every strategy is subject to further undesirable changes that must be counteracted.

Significant sources of undesirable changes are

  • the persistence of established processes and behaviors.
  • broad or very idiosyncratic interpretations of a new strategy.
  • adapting a new strategy to existing processes and behavior.

If no one takes care of the implementation and especially the quality and quantity management, a new strategy will quickly be watered down and its impact will evaporate.

Strategy must remain current. Not every strategy is maximally successful right from the start. On the contrary. What also applies to plans applies to strategies. Plans themselves are not important, planning is crucial. This means nothing other than that after we have introduced a strategy into the company, we have to constantly work on this strategy until it is replaced by another strategy or has fulfilled its purpose.

No strategy remains unchanged from contact with reality. Make this ancient insight your own.
Even if our strategy is perfect from the start and has no weaknesses, the world has already changed while we were developing and implementing that strategy.
i.e. We will always have a constant need for updates – the faster the general conditions change, the greater this need for updates. Social media as the environment of our strategy is one of the more dynamic worlds. So we have to assume a higher need for updates.

Strategy is never perfect. Every strategy is based on assumptions and assessments. Not all of these assumptions and assessments are 100 percent accurate. Above all, the conditions on which our assumptions and assessments are based are changeable.

Every strategy is in a competition. We can assess this as best as possible and we can take the possible reactions and behaviors of the competition into account in our strategy as best as possible, but we cannot assume that we were right on all points and that the competition will develop the way we did suspect that.

Quick adaptation brings success.

The sooner we recognize a need for adjustment and see it as an opportunity to be more successful, the sooner our strategy is or will be a success. This not only requires an understanding of the respective strategy and its assumptions and requirements, it also requires constant observation (monitoring). Only if we quickly recognise a need for change – or better yet, a potential for change – can it become an opportunity.
If the failure of a strategy can no longer be overlooked due to its accumulated results, the train has set off – for an adjustment of the strategy as well as for the success of this strategy. The result is the development of a new strategy with the corresponding time investment instead of an early adjustment of the existing strategy.
The consequence is simple: adapting a strategy early on is usually faster and cheaper than developing a new strategy with all its uncertainties.

Strategy management as a permanent task

Why we need strategy management should be understandable. It is also understandable that this strategy management is a task within social media management and, if possible, also carried out by the developer(s) of the strategy. The effort involved depends not least on the complexity of the strategy, the size of the company and its organizational structure.
There are social media management structures in which a central unit has strategic development and control (strategy management) as its core task and the tactical implementation takes place in the individual functional areas, subsidiaries and national companies.

Strategy management as a success factor

If we take the arguments mentioned into account, the importance of strategy management as a success factor becomes clear. Without strategy management, the success of even the best strategy remains dependent on chance in many respects.
An essential task of strategy management is to act as a radar for risks and the need for adjustment and to react as quickly as possible. It is of little help to address the problem when the strategy has hit the wall; it is wiser to identify the risk as early as possible and avoid the problem. If strategy management does not exist or is not successful, we only recognize the problem of an actually successful strategy when it fails.

Why strategy management is a given.

Even if you are not interested in soccer, you know that the coach of a team is at every game. Why? It’s not training. The team is trained, prepared for the game and motivated. A trainer can’t do much anymore.
This is of course a wrong view of things. A game is reality. Players get injured, the opposing team plays differently than expected, players have an unexpected weakness, the opponent changes their system in the middle of the game, your own system doesn’t work, your own motivation or attention drops, etc. etc.
The same is true with strategies. When they go on the pitch there are always surprises. Without a coach it doesn’t work either.

What does strategy management in social media involve?

Strategy management stands for

  • the permanent control of the implementation of the strategy in social media (quality and quantity of impact),
  • monitoring the benefits (integration of the benefits from social media into the respective company processes),
  • Monitoring the assumptions and requirements of the strategy,
  • Monitoring the competitive situation,
  • securing the resource situation,
  • monitoring the identified risks of the strategy,
  • prompt adjustment of the strategy.

These areas should be actively worked on in all strategy models.

Controlling the implementation of the strategy in social media

Putting a strategy into practice means defining its application very specifically. The less specifically the strategy is formulated, the greater the scope for interpretation and at the same time the confusion or irritation that can accompany it.

Ability to implement the strategy

Flowery and highly abstract strategies may look great on paper, as a presentation, and as a video. In the depths of everyday life and where the company’s performance is provided, they occasionally lose a lot of their glamor. Especially when they are complex to implement and not compatible with the reality on site.

One of the core tasks of strategy management is checking and ensuring suitability for everyday use.

This task should actually take place before a strategy is adopted, but unfortunately this cannot always be assumed. Strategy development is such a comprehensive and sometimes laborious process that towards its end, those involved tend not to give this point the necessary and, unfortunately, particularly laborious attention.

The more detailed and concrete a strategy is formulated, the sooner and faster it can actually be implemented. If comprehensive instructions for use are still required for practice, this is again an occasionally very extensive process that should take place between strategy decision and implementation. The later this implementation assistance is provided, the more difficult the self-determined starting conditions of the strategy are and the more difficult it is to succeed.

The ability to implement a strategy therefore requires clearly defined, practical measures for all relevant strategy components. If these are not present, it is difficult for the strategy to be implemented successfully and may fail in the company right from the start.

Components of strategy management

With strategy management we steer strategies towards success. This can be a precise, direct course, or a series of deviations that become smaller and smaller. The former is more likely to be assigned to the category of wishes, the latter more to the category of reality. At the same time, strategy management is the entity that adjusts the content of strategies or gives the starting signal for the development of your successor.
When we talk about steering, this includes the presence of steering instruments, i.e. the levers and adjusting wheels with which we adjust our course. So let’s first take a look at these tools, which I now refer to as elements of our strategy management.

Elements of strategy management

  • Measures of the strategy components: every strategy should lead to concrete actions. The paths to these measures can generally be very different. In one case, goals or future behaviors are specified and the responsible areas adapt existing measures to this new situation; in another case, new concrete measures are specified. In social media, strategy development and implementation usually lie in the same functional area. i.e. When developing a strategy, it makes a lot of sense to think about the measures at the same time. This ensures more concrete and realistic strategies and more direct implementation. The measures of a social media strategy should be linked to measurable variables that we can use to quickly identify their contribution to the company’s success. These metrics are our well-known KPIs. In our list of measures, which we developed based on the content of our strategy, you can also find the appropriate KPIs for each measure. Constantly keeping an eye on these KPIs and their development and following up on deviations is a core task of social media strategy management.
  • Causality of measures and effects: Causality exists when there is a cause-effect relationship between two characteristics. This relationship doesn’t necessarily have to be set in stone forever. The causality of measures and desired effects can be based on decades of experience or can be a rough estimate. In both cases we could well be wrong. So it’s better to keep an eye on their condition instead of being surprised by a change. So that we can keep an eye on this state of cause and effect, we should know it, i.e. have it defined in our strategy. Typical examples of such cause-effect relationships are content and the reactions to it.
  • Quantity and quality of impact and measures: It is not surprising that our measures should have an impact. Whether they actually do so is something completely different. Whether the effect of our measures makes the desired contribution to the company’s success may be a more or less pleasant surprise. This means that we have to keep an eye on the effect itself as well as its quantity and quality. For example, we not only have to pay attention to whether content generates interested parties, but also how many interested parties and the quality of interested parties are generated. The same applies to members of a community or to customer loyalty via social media. When it comes to the quality of the impact, we should be guided by the existing processes and criteria. i.e. In our example of generating prospects through social media, we coordinated the quality criteria for prospects with the functional areas that turn our prospects into customers. The same applies here: Deviations – positive and negative – must be tracked, because the most valuable insights for success can be gained from deviations.
  • Assumptions and prerequisites: Strategies are based on assumptions and assumptions and life is based on change. Which reminds us that strategies also have to be effective in a constantly changing environment and that we therefore have to keep an eye on the assumptions and prerequisites for the success of the strategy in order to be able to react to changes in a timely manner. In pbsm we have the strategy component Assumptions and Prerequisites in which we have recorded all the important assumptions and prerequisites for the success of our strategy. This summary makes it easier for us to recognize changes at an early stage and to steer the strategy to success through necessary adjustments. By regularly checking the assumptions and prerequisites for the success of strategies (such as their measures), we ensure the success of the strategy or its early adaptation.
  • Competitive situation: in a strategy, we strive to take the competitive situation and the behavior of competitors into account not only at the time of strategy development but also beyond. It is inevitable that this is based on assumptions and assessments. Likewise that we are wrong. It is therefore advisable to constantly keep an eye on the competitive situation and its changes. With a bit of luck, we can focus on a few competitors and competitive factors (the success factors of our strategy / social media impact).
  • Resource situation: every strategy requires resources. Permanently. The latter can quickly become problematic if a strategy’s resources are limited. Don’t just take a look at budgets but, above all, at human resources. If the competence for a strategy and its implementation is based on one person, the failure/loss of that person can cause considerable damage. Therefore, every possible bottleneck should be known and taken into account. This works best when there is a person responsible for it.
  • Forward-looking risk monitoring: we have identified a whole range of possible risks to the success of a social media strategy. Constantly keeping an eye on these risks as a whole serves for forward-looking risk monitoring. Forward-looking because we try to identify any changes that reduce the success of the strategy and increase its risks as early as possible so that we can react to them in a timely manner.

Adaptation of measures and strategies

We now know that we must constantly keep an eye on our strategy and its success factors such as the market and competitive situation and respond promptly to changes in the environment of our strategy and to deviations in its effect. Both in terms of individual measures and the strategy itself.
But when are adjustments to individual measures enough and when do we have to change the strategy?
This can only be recognized in individual cases. As a rule of thumb for assessing situations, I recommend focusing on the performance potential and competitive quality of the strategy. Here is an example formulated like this:

  • If we are dealing with weaknesses in individual measures that can be corrected and only affect the quantity and quality of social media benefits, adjusting the measures is sufficient provided that the competitive quality of the strategy is present and will continue to be present in the future (assumption).
  • If the adjustment of individual measures leads to an improvement in social media benefits, but the competitive quality of the strategy is no longer assured, the strategy is at risk.
  • Our strategy works, but the competitor establishes a more powerful strategy. Here we recommend either adapting your own strategy (upgrading to competitiveness, if possible) or a new strategy.