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Is a social media strategy necessary?

3 min read


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

This week, we asked: How often do you review your social media strategy?

  • We don’t have a social media strategy: 31.62%
  • Less than three months between reviews: 25.64%
  • Every three to six months: 21.37%
  • Every six to nine months: 10.26%
  • Every nine to 12 months: 5.13%
  • Every 12 to 18 months: 3.42%
  • Every 18 to 24 months: 1.71%
  • More than two years between reviews: 0.85%

Is a social media strategy necessary? Good question. According to the results, maybe not. Here are five of my observations on these poll results.

  1. It’s alarming that almost 32% of respondents to the poll “don’t have a social media strategy.” Now, knowing our community, this does include the small percentage of our readers who do not use social media for their business, but even still, that number seems super high — 3 of 10 do not have a strategy; that’s akin to having a map and a compass, but no destination.
  2. As alarming as that may be, the one possibility is that this segment of our readership is using social media before the strategy-formulation stage for a period of “experimentation.” I would actually be a proponent of that. Do you fall into that category? If so, how are you getting the information from experimentation into your strategy? If not, you need to step back and ask, “Why are we doing this?”
  3. I’d say that the almost 50% of respondents who rejigger their plans more often than every six months are reviewing their social media “strategy” too frequently. I’m good with you reviewing your goals, tactics and campaigns that frequently — but your “strategy” should not change that often. I’d recommend re-evaluating your strategy annually to ensure it remains relevant and in alignment with your corporate strategy.
  4. The basis for the above is that in general, I think we have a misunderstanding of the word “strategy.” It’s not your social media plan, the launch of your Facebook page or the social media monitoring software you just purchased; it’s the overarching reason those things exist. In a post by Shannon Paul titled “The Missing Ingredient in Most Social Media Strategies,” Tac Anderson sums it up perfectly.

    “What are most social media strategies missing? They are missing organizational alignment with the overall communications strategy, which is often not in full alignment with the business strategy to begin with. This is why we mostly see one-off social media campaigns that don’t accrue to anything. A social media strategy would be a subset of the communications strategy. It should support the communications strategy in supporting the business strategy.”

  5. From a social media standpoint, we remain in the infant stages of development from a business perspective. As I’ve said a number of times before, we can’t rely on best practices; all we can do is work hard at learning from the practices we’ve implemented. As we see with these polls each week, we rarely have a single best answer. Social media is just getting started, and it will be a while before it finds its rightful permanent place within every organization.

What’s your take on these results? Can a business effectively succeed in social media without a strategy?

This poll analysis was written by SmartBlogs contributor Jeremy Victor. He is the president of business-to-business content-marketing agency Make Good Media and editor-in-chief of For more of his writing, visit and follow him on Twitter and Google+.