Social Culture Leads, Social Strategy Directs, Social Tactics Do

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Lead, Direct, Do. Its not a bad starting point for thinking about social. I was triggered to think about this after reading an interesting post on HBR (Link Here). My frustration with this industry has always been the tactics salesmen, the how-toers, the Top fivers, the Best Ofers. And I think in some cases perhaps we have become slightly lazy in the way we plan and think strategically about social.

Its no wonder that a lot of the social media campaigns we see look, feel, and do the same things… (Old Spice Man you’ll have seen but Mr.Motivator for MacMillan (link here) seen it before right?) they are born out of the same learnings, the same recommendations, and the same way of thinking. A model of repetition if you like. Tactics over strategy. Its certainly not what I learnt at Uni. But it could be the reason why 73% of Marketeers are saying they don’t know what their social strategy is.

Tactics are a bad starting point for any campaign. Yet it seems this is where many campaigns kick-off from. Its where the conversation starts as “how do we use Facebook?” not “Does Facebook fit into our strategy?”, its where there isn’t massive room for diversifying. And bless tactics, they simply can’t do everything on their own.

This is where strategy comes in. Strategy tells tactics what to do. Strategy directs. Strategy says here is a framework, here is the objectives, here is what we think we should do. It then relies on tactics to deliver. (For an interesting piece on this look at Dave Trott’s Hitler v Churchill on Brand Republic

Within this framework, strategy helps to steer tactics, it helps to say “no to your latest social media network” and “yes to that’s the direction”.

The interesting thing, is that now I think slightly differently. Actually, strategy can’t simply do everything on its own. (And yes, this has sadly been driven by a personal experience) Strategy can drive tactics yes, but what is driving and supporting strategy? Well, in the case of social strategy that is a supporting social culture. A brand has to want to be social internally as well as externally.

Social culture says “we want to be social”, “we want to share more of what we do internally”, “we want our people to be the spokespeople”, “we want our customers to be at the heart of what we do”. Without this, a social strategy is a false framework for tactics which may work, but don’t connect.

So lets start at the very beginning, let’s start with social culture, ignore social media, and write social strategies. Then and only then, we will be creating unique social and citizen focused brands.

Image by: expertinfantry

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