Social media strategy

To understand social media strategy we have to understand strategy.

Definition Strategy

The concept of strategy is described on Wikipedia. The development of the understanding of strategy in business can be read from these descriptions. If you compare the content with what the fathers of strategy has taken in terms of development – ie from Sun Tzu to Clausewitz and subsequent ones – you can see that there is still room for improvement on the economic level. The less clear and directly applicable a strategy model is, the more difficult it is to work with it in reality. And the more arbitrary are the results of the model.

Definition Social Media Strategy

  • Classic strategy definition (Clausewitz): Strategy is the economy of means. The classic definition – strategy as economy of means – is particularly applicable to social media. Not least because the competitive situation in social media means that we are in a resource-focused competition that can hardly be won without the clever use of resources. Unfortunately, on the other hand, the path from this definition to practical application is quite long and also quite difficult for practical users of social media in companies due to the training situation in strategy. Therefore, a “simpler” approach is more suitable for everyday use.
  • For the practical application of strategy in social media, a practical and applicable strategy definition is recommended: A social media strategy serves the corporate strategy and is a company’s decision about how it uses social media and which of the benefits of social media the company wants to realize for itself and in what way.

As a social media strategy, we refer to a way of acting with which we as a company use the potential of social media in order to achieve goals in the company, market and competition (opportunities) that can be achieved through social media and the risks that arise from social media are and arise, reduce.

The strategy is defined by the social media performance potential for the company and its business model and how we use this – within the scope of our possibilities / resources – for our (company) goals.

key learning social media strategy

Social media strategy

key learning

  • Strategy is about potential and how we use it, or which of it we use and how.
  • The potentials in social media are: the performance potential of social media, the potential benefits of social media for the company’s business model, the performance potential of the company (resources) and the competitive situation.

Benefit and Meaning of Strategy

Through the social media strategy, we define how and for what purpose we use the performance potential of social media for our company. We also define what contribution social media can make to the company’s success, which part of this we will use and how we deal with the opportunities and risks from social media. The social media strategy has an impact on

  • the company’s success.
  • the company’s competitive position and ability.
  • the performance of the company.

key understanding: A valid strategy focuses the company’s resources on the greatest benefit and avoids engaging in competitions for little benefit or with little chance of success. This is why strategy is also referred to as the economy of means.

Methodological approaches and their differences

The development of social media strategies can be placed directly on the support of defined company goals in and through social media (focus on defined company goals). However, it can also be based on the performance potential of social media for the company (focus on the company benefits of social media). In the latter case, the performance potential available to the company from social media is first determined and, based on this, in its strategy it is decided which part of the performance potential the company wants to use. This broader approach leads to a different result that is no less focused but uses social media potential more comprehensively.

Focusing on defined company goals: The strategy development starts with given company goals and uses the performance potential of social media and the social media affinity of markets and competition to examine how these company goals can be supported by social media. At first glance, this procedure is logical and sufficient. At second glance, we see that this approach ignores both the special nature of social media and the company’s existing business model.

Disadvantages of the procedure:

  • Social media can change existing processes and procedures. If we do not take this potential for change into account, the efficiency of the existing processes and procedures suffers because they no longer correspond to the changes. The company loses efficiency and competitiveness.
  • Social media has the potential to change business models. If we do not, or only partially, consider the potential for social media to change existing business models, the efficiency and effectiveness of the business models will suffer. The potential for social media to change existing business models can be very extensive and make business models partially or entirely obsolete. A social media strategy that has not taken this change into account is a deficit in the use of the potential of social media – because it ignores the improvement of the business model or its support. In addition, this approach can lead to the risks for the business model from social media not being recognized.
  • Social media potential can offer a company more comprehensive benefits than supporting defined business goals (without considering social media potential). For example, possible competitive advantages can be built up in markets through social media, the resources of social media can be used for market development, or competitive insights can be generated.
  • The company has less knowledge about possible business benefits through social media than when focusing on business benefits.

Advantages of the procedure:

  • The strategy process is leaner.

Focusing on the business benefits of social media: Focusing on the business benefits of social media leads to a broader approach that can lead to more benefits for the company and at the same time makes the opportunities and risks of social media for the company clearer. We first examine what benefits the company can derive from social media as a whole and thus also identify opportunities that would otherwise have remained hidden from the company. Whether and to what extent all the opportunities offered by social media are used for the company is an entrepreneurial decision that is then made.

Advantages of the procedure:

  • This approach enables a more well-founded entrepreneurial decision to use social media / a social media strategy, because the entire potential with its opportunities and risks can flow into the decision. The management of the company receives a more well-founded basis for decision-making.
  • The company has a better understanding of the opportunities and risks of social media for its individual situation.
  • The company may be able to generate resources from social media to its advantage.

Disadvantages of the procedure:

  • At least at the beginning of its use, this approach requires a more comprehensive analysis of the opportunities and risks of social media in markets, business models and competition.

Social media strategy training

Tragedy

In the training of social media managers, the topic of strategy is kept very quiet. If the topic is part of the training at all, the POST framework or a variant of it is usually taught. The situation is similar in the specialist literature.

So it is no wonder that the flood of recommendations – what a social media strategy looks like or is developed – is based on this and continues to flood through the screens.

Unfortunately, the POST framework does not lead us to a valid strategy. This is because this approach does not deal with potential – as one would expect from a strategy – but with target groups, content and social media channels.

Ultimately, when it comes to strategy, we are sending motivated people with an unsuitable toolbox to face a considerable challenge that cannot be overcome with this set of instruments. As a result, the necessary recognition and support for social media is lacking.

Strategy is a demanding topic, especially in social media

The real challenge of social media strategy is – in addition to the counterproductive quality of training –

  • to master the topic of strategy,
  • to understand a company’s business model to the extent that the benefits of social media can be defined,
  • to ensure that company management pays attention to the topic and obtains the resources and support required for a valid strategy.
  • to align the interests of the functional areas and the performance of social media.
  • to enable social media employees to implement the strategy, keep it alive and adapt it in a timely manner.

This requires a great deal of business management skills, diplomatic ability, pedagogical empathy and an extremely thick skin, combined with fearless persistence.

In addition, you need to keep a firm eye on the strategy and its implementation in day-to-day business in order not to lose track.

Competitive advantage strategic competence

Social media strategy competence is also – and first and foremost, in my opinion – strategy competence.

This means that although this competence is acquired for social media, it is a school of thought and an approach that cannot and should not be applied “only” to social media.

Strategic competence is not only a competitive advantage for companies. As a personal competitive advantage, this competence is rare but relevant and important for companies. This pays off in an application situation as well as in working in the company.

Social media strategy with the pbsm

In the potential-based strategy model, the social media strategy is based on

  • the performance potential of social media, d. H. we first work out the performance potential of social media that is available to the company as a whole. Of course, the potential-based strategy model can also be used for the direct method – focusing on supporting defined company goals.
  • the company’s business model and the impact of social media on the business model.
  • the markets/market of the company and the impact of social media on it.
  • the social media affinity of markets, business models and competition
  • the competitive situation and the effects and design options of social media.
  • the corporate strategy and goals as well as the corporate priorities.
  • the options for action that the company can use for its specific situation in social media (social media options for action).
  • the resources available to the company for social media – including social media resources.

The knowledge required for this is not yet part of the training of social media managers.

The unsuitable POST framework is usually taught there in various versions.

Requirements for a social media strategy in the potential-based strategy model pbsm

RequirementsCriteria
Social media performance potentialThe strategy must be based on the social media performance potential for the company. To do this, this performance potential must be known / determined. The documentation of the strategy enables this requirement to be checked.
A social media strategy that is not based on the entire performance potential during development reduces its potential in the beginning.
Social media options for actionThe social media options for action are defined and evaluated via the company’s priorities and assessed via the competitive situation. The documentation of the strategy development enables this requirement to be checked. In addition, there should be a corresponding big picture of the social media options for action.
If we do not know and cannot compare our options for action and their benefits for the company as well as their requirements from the competition, we will not design a strategy that does justice to the company’s opportunities through social media.
Strategy definitionHere we define the strategy / strategy versions based on the priorities of the company. When making decisions, the strategy also takes into account expected, probable competitive reactions.
The decisions on this are recorded in the documentation of the strategy so that they can be checked easily – especially if the situation changes.
Strategy componentsThe strategy components define how the strategy is implemented – both in the structures of the strategy and in the day-to-day work, which is based on the content of the respective strategy components. The interactions of the content of the strategy components should be dealt with in the strategy documentation and described in the solution.
Strategy evaluationThe evaluation of the performance and competitive quality of a social media strategy or a draft social media strategy before the strategy is adopted (as a decision-making aid). Criteria and results of the strategy evaluation are comprehensible in the strategy documentation.

The free social media strategy course

Course content

Social media strategy requires not only social media skills but also strategy skills. And you can’t just acquire both in a relaxed afternoon. You lay the foundations for this skill with a compact course that is reduced to the essentials and that you complete online on your own. (You can get support if you need it.)

  • The social media strategy course includes more than 70 learning units. The pure reading time for the learning units is – depending on your reading speed – 20 to 25 hours. You should hardly allow more than 2 hours of reading time per day.
  • The course includes more than 200 practical exercises. The time required for this is much longer than the pure reading time for the course content.
  • The course is therefore more of a course lasting several weeks – which you complete more or less independently – than a typical online course for the afternoon.

Diploma

You can take the social media strategy course for free – without proof of qualification or support – or for a fee and obtain the pbsm.strategist qualification. You can find out more about the pbsm.strategist qualification here.

Good news at the end

The feedback from former course participants who applied for a position with social media responsibility using material from the pbsm is not surprising, but definitely entertaining. Usually, an application for a position as a person responsible for social media does not lead to an immediate invitation to a lengthy interview with company owners, CEOs and managing directors. In these cases, it does.

Visit the free social media strategy course