Do you really need a social-media strategy? - SmartBrief

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Do you really need a social-media strategy?

2 min read


SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social-media practices and issues.

Last week’s poll question: Does your company have a formal, written social-media strategy?

  • No, but we’re getting around to it 32.73%
  • No, and we probably won’t write one anytime soon 27.64%
  • Yes, and it’s really useful 20.00%
  • Yes, but it’s not that relevant to our daily operations 12.36%
  • We’re not using social media 5.82%
  • We paid a consultant to come up with one for us, but we’re not sure what it really means 1.45%

More than 60% of the 320 SmartBrief on Social Media readers who took this poll say their company is using social media without a strategy.  About 14% say they’ve got one — either pawned off from a consultant or self-inflicted — but it doesn’t seem to be doing them much good.  One-fifth of respondents say they have a strategy and find it useful in their day-to-day business. And I’m willing to bet those are the readers who are seeing the biggest, most easily measurable returns on their social-media efforts.

Social-media strategies get a bad rap. We think of them as meaningless piles of euphemisms that are so inane you can actually build a random social-media strategy generator to dispense them. But just because it can be a Dilbert-esque jumble of cliches doesn’t mean that’s all it can be. You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint. You wouldn’t start a business without a business plan — or at least you wouldn’t be without one for very long. So why leave something as powerful as social media up to chance?

It doesn’t have to enormously detailed. It doesn’t have to sound like it was written by Captain Buzzword. It starts with a pretty simple question: “What are we actually trying to do here?” Any project, big or small, at least merits asking that question. And if somebody writes the answer to that question down and then uses it to foster further discussion later on, I don’t see how that could possibly be a bad thing. But what if you can’t explain what you’re trying to do? Then maybe you need to take a step back and ask whether social media is really the right technology for this project.

What’s your social media strategy? Can you explain, in a sentence or two, what you’re trying to accomplish with the social tools you’re using?