Just a quick note to start off the week: Purpose matters.
Just a year ago, many of us were bemoaning the absence of major brands on the twitternets, myself included. PR departments were too slow to get into the space. Brand managers were still, for the most part, alien to the world of Social Media. Most organizations were at best cautious to enter the space when not overtly reluctant to do so, even dismissive.
Today, as companies and their agencies are finally beginning to dip their toes and even try a few strokes on their own in the deep end of the pool, we seem faced with a different problem: An epidemic absence of purpose.
The thing (social media) has, in many instances, replaced the why.
Instead of hearing executives ask “can we use Social Media to increase our reach, to better manage our brand’s reputation, to improve customer service, to recruit better candidates or to grow our business,” what I still hear most often is “What should our Social Media strategy focus on?” Or, as it where “okay, we have a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Now what?”
Here is how it works:
Business problem –> Business Strategy to solve the problem –> Incorporate Social Media into said business strategy
Business Problem: Angry customer voices are impacting our reputation. This threatens our ability to acquire new customers and retain existing ones. We could see a drop in sales over the next 6 to 18 months if we don’t fix this.
Business Strategy: Address angry customers’ concerns. Set the record straight on fallacies, while acknowledging legitimate grievances and promising to make necessary changes.
SM Integration: Monitor conversations in digital channels. Respond to positive and negative comments and mentions. Track changes in sentiment over time (manually). Establish discussion zones on appropriate social networks and via adequate social web platforms – This will help funnel topics and showcase the way we respond to the crisis. Use the space to ask for suggestions and ideas – This will help turn negative comments into constructive recommendations and a portion of angry customers into strategic assets. etc.
Here is how it does not work:
Social Media is the new big thing –> Get into Social Media –> Develop Social Media Strategy –> Wait… what?
Every program or campaign an organization funds supports some kind of business objective:
Acquiring net new customers.
Retaining existing customers.
Attenuating a PR crisis.
Managing a company’s reputation.
Amplifying the reach of a particular message.
Selling more stuff.
Gathering business intelligence.
You name it. There are dozens upon dozens of possibilities. I am not even talking about R.O.I. here, but outcomes in general: Business outcomes. The types of outcomes which serve a purpose.
Wondering what an organization’s Social Media strategy should be is very much the same as wondering about what its telephone strategy would be: It is the wrong question.
Furthermore, as we will discuss later this week, if hiring a Social Media Manager serves the purpose of driving a Social Media strategy, then the purpose of the Social Media strategy is to drive… what? A Social Media Strategy? (No.) Strategies are driven by objectives and objectives are driven by purpose.
Before jumping into the Social Media pool (and you should), consider the why of it. As an organization, why do you want to be active in Social Networks? What will your activity there aim to drive for your business? What is your purpose for being there?
To engage more? To participate in conversations? Okay. But why? Those are activities. They are not purpose.
Before launching a program or assigning resources to a new Social Media program, figure out where you want to go with it. Think about purpose and results, not just emulating your competitors.