Working in social media means working in an environment that is fast-paced, always-on and continually evolving. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily churn of the day-to-day without breathing and stepping away to look at the bigger picture. We “go, go, go” and “do, do, do” without even blinking.
We often use the fast-paced nature of social media as a reason not to have a firm strategy in place. If part of our job requires flexibility, why would we put a strategic plan together?
The madness without method in social media has to stop. Just because our world is continually evolving does not mean there’s no strategy involved in our work. A plan gives a POV on “the why” and “the how” of how you’ll support the business. It does not mean you can’t be agile and fluid — nor does it require you to stick to a content calendar. We shouldn’t confuse being nimble with not having a strategy, and I believe approaching it that way discredits the role social can play.
Putting a strategy to paper is not easy work. It takes time and is something that will continue to evolve. It’s important work, though, and one that all social teams should take the time to pen. Here’s why:
We’re no longer just “figuring it out”.
I started working in social media before this industry was even a thing. Early on, no one understood what social meant for the business. The channels were a real experiment. And while there will always be some level of “figuring it out” in our work, we’re a point where we understand the role social can play in business.
If you work in social media, it’s your job to map social media back to the organizational goals. And doing so requires some sort of strategy and plan in place.
If we want organizations to take social media seriously and have a seat at the table, we can’t always resort to the “this is an experiment” excuse. Yes, there are a lot of things that are an experiment in social. Yes, there will be many times when we have to pivot. But no, that does not mean we can’t have a plan for how and why we work.
We’re no longer just figuring social media out, and it’s time we own the fact that yes, we’ve learned a lot about this channel and what it can mean for business.
Social media is not just tactical.
One of the arguments against having a strategy in place is how quickly our world evolves. And as stated before, there’s always going to be some level of nimbleness required in our industry.
The need to be flexible in social media is less about strategy and more about tactics, though. There are foundational aspects of our work that does not change day-to-day — and it’s those things like goals, audience, channel purpose, etc. — that a plan should embrace.
A great social media strategy helps articulate the why and reason for being without restricting a team. It should actually empower a team to pivot, build and act quickly on the things that matter versus restricting.
Don’t use tactics as a crutch to not put in the time to do the foundational work.
A strategy gives teams focus.
Years of working in social media have taught me the power of real focus for teams. Just because social can technically “service” many areas of the business, doesn’t mean it’s moving the needle across every touchpoint.
Social isn’t everything to everyone, and that rhetoric has to stop. But changing that mentality within organizations requires education and buy-in. And those two things cannot happen without a plan.
When a social media team has a strategy in place, it articulates “the why” behind what they do. It gives clear and distinct vision on the most important work that matters, and that helps teams focus on where social and content can have an impact on business goals.
When you fly by the seats of your pants, it’s much harder to pushback on why it doesn’t make sense to just “put it up on social.” And when social because the default for everything, it takes away meaningful work from the team.
A strategy empowers teams. It enables them to do the work that matters and focus on quality over quantity. And in an industry where it’s easy to overwhelm and overburden teams, we need to make sure the work we’re doing matters.
It helps advocate for resourcing needs.
Social media used to be the job of one person. In the early days, you couldn’t share photos on Twitter, Facebook’s innovation was king and Instagram didn’t exist. The work was much less sophisticated and required a lot less resourcing.
Today, if you want to stand out in this space and drive business goals, social media requires a lot more than a one-person team. It requires strategists, community managers, creators, etc. As expectations on social increase, so do the resourcing needs.
It’s nearly impossible to advocate for more resources if people don’t understand the why, though. How can you expect an organization to invest in more talent if they don’t know how it’s going to drive back to the business?
Putting a strategy to paper helps create a vision for not just what you do and why — but what you’ll need to get it done. You can’t show “the how” if you don’t know “the why,” and you can’t ask for more resources without either of those.
It champions the team.
There are a million things you can measure in social media, and it’s easy to get caught up in a data dump. Total engagements to team rankings, what are we measuring and why?
Too often, we measure things in social media without understanding their purpose. And metrics without reason are meaningless.
A strategy helps map back the work to the business and gives a clear distinction on the metrics that matter most. When you have a clear understanding of how social impacts the organization, it’s much easier to champion the work of the team.
If we want our work in social media to be respected, we have to map it back to the business. We cannot fear having a strategy in place because we think it will prevent us from pivoting. When a social media strategy is approached the right way, it actually empowers a team to do the work that matters and allows you to be nimble.
It’s time to do the work that matters and embrace the idea of a mapped out social media strategy.
If you’ve championed a social media strategy within your organization, I would love to hear how it’s benefited your work and team. Share below!