Social Media is Not a Strategy, but you need a Social Media Strategy

Trying to trace down the origin of the saying “Social Media is not a strategy” was more difficult than I expected, though I have been able to confirm that it’s been around since at least 2004. Some businesses get this – social media is a tool, just like radio is a tool, and sandwich-board men are a tool. A marketing strategy makes use of tools, but tools do not create a strategy. That is, throwing together a bunch of tools does not create a coherent strategy.

Social Media is even less like radio or TV, in that there are many aspects to social media, each of which is a tool on its own. Perhaps this is where the confusion arises – does the creation of a Facebook page, a blog, a Twitter feed, some presence on Linked In – do those add up to a strategy?

As many business people I know who utilize Social Media heavily in their marketing efforts will tell you, using the tools does not make a strategy, though a strategy uses the tools. A coherent Social Media strategy understands the role each of the tools can play, the type of work needed to balance the various aspects to Social Media against one another. The strategy involves more than just the tools, but also how they will be used.

Will the Twitter feed be used to showcase products, or will it be for chatting with the target market?

Will the blog focus on issues internal to the company, or external to the industry?

Who will manage the Facebook page?

The answers to these questions, and many more besides, result in the creation of a sound strategy, one which has an objective, and shows how the various tools will be used to bring the goal closer to fruition.

For example, my strategy with my blog here is not to promote my own work, or my business. It’s to help showcase my expertise by talking about issues relating to my target market. While occasionally I will talk about my business, it’s not really about that – it’s about issues potential customers might want answered. Ultimately, some of the readers of this blog may choose to work with me, but only because I’ve already established credibility with them through my writing (over 170,000 words to date).

Strategies don’t need to be complicated, but they need to involve more than just a tool, or set of tools. Social Media is a set of tools – not a strategy.