What Is The Biggest Mistake Companies Make With Their Social Media Strategy?

Posted on October 13, 2010


When You Have A Hammer Everything Looks Like A Nail


What Is The Biggest Mistake Companies Make With Their Social Media Strategy?

Editor Steve Farnsworth (@Steveology)

The problem with most companies is they have implemented a tools-based strategy, and as everyone knows, say it with me class, “That is not a strategy at all!”

That’s like showing up to the construction site with only a few 2 x 4s, a hand full of nails, and a hammer. Where are your blueprints? Are you going to build an outhouse or The Taj Mahal? I guess when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail. That must be why most companies’ social media “strategy” looks like an outhouse…Ba-dum-bum. I’ll be here all week. Be sure to tip your waitress….

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PR = Press Release

Anyway… From my time in public relations this ignorance was a constant educational battle. Less enlightened clients often saw PR as press releases and news clippings. By seeing only tools you miss what it can really build.

I loved public relations for its ability to make a real impact on the way clients and prospects thought about my company, the product, and the product’s category. I influenced their perception by understanding what that public already thought about my product, and in what context they talked about my brand. Having a clear picture of where I wanted to move that perception I then provided news, information, and social proof that supported that point of view I wanted them to consider. It worked, too. It works the same in social communications and social marketing.

I Don’t Need It Good, I Need It Thursday

Where companies and senior executives usually go off the rails in developing a strategy for social media is seeing the shiny objects and getting distracted. Instead they need to stop and look at the process they want to influence, and decide where they want to take that conversation.

Fundamentally, marketing has always been about conversations between the maker and buyers of goods or services. In the past it was always one-to-many, like broadcast advertising. However, given the role of the Internet in our everyday communications we now have a many-to-many or omni-directional conversation, with consumers talking and sharing with others on a massive scale.

It’s surprising how many marketers and senior executives live in the past where they delude themselves that they still control the message and the medium. How do these guys keep their jobs?

What’s The Frequency Kenneth?

To create an effective strategy brands need to ask the right questions and learn where their audience is and in what context those consumers talk about the brand.

When you understand the “how,” “why,” and “where” a company’s target prospects talk about the brand, then you can understand better what is important to them, and when you understand that, finding and developing a strategy that supports your business goals should be self-evident.

You can find this information out the hard way, or the easy way. If you can afford social media monitoring, I highly recommend it. If used correctly it will pay for itself. If that’s not in the budget, at the very least you should be asking your customers in what communities they are talking about the company’s products. Then go take a look and see what customers are saying.

Now, you can ask the million dollar question: What news, information, and social proof supports the point of view do you wanted them to consider? Figure that out and you’re on the way to developing a cogent social media strategy


This contains an updated excerpt from an interview I gave to Andrew Worob that appeared originally on his most excellent blog PR at Sunrise.