It’s Not About Social Media; It’s About the Strategy

I may call myself a social media strategist, but I’m actually an investigator, an explorer, and a mad scientist. Most clients come to me for help with their social media, but to even get to the point where we can successfully implement a social media strategy, there is so much we have to learn about the company, its community and content.

via wikimedia commons

via wikimedia commons

It’s not unusual for a company to have a subjective perspective about its audience or about the types of content used to engage them. Small business owners may claim that “Twitter isn’t working” for them or that they “can’t get Facebook” to drive sales or traffic. While it can be frustrating, having trouble connecting social media to your business outcomes rarely is the fault of social media; rather it’s the strategy (or lack of one, as it may be) that isn’t working.

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How Things Work

Before I started my own business, I was frustrated with the way things worked. Upper management made decisions without truly understanding how new technologies worked. There was no strategy in place. People reacted instead of being proactive.

I read every book, watched every TED talk and attended every conference I could to help me see that there was a better way to work. I was inspired that with the right structure, the right organizational culture, the workplace could work in a way in which others were inspired to approach problems from new perspectives.

Now that I have my own business and work with other businesses to help them become more strategic about their communications and workflows, I am no longer frustrated. After more than 10 years working for other organizations in which I suffered through the bizarre ways that upper management treated those below them or responded to information they don’t understand, I am finally in a place where I get to help improve the way things work.

Lots of people like to think that things work better when you dream bigger. Being a dreamer isn’t a bad thing. But having a great idea is only part of the solution. Putting it into action requires understanding of how things work. It requires strategy. It requires an open mind. It requires compromise and kinetic energy. Most importantly it requires empathy. By understanding how others work and how they feel about how they work, can help you get a better picture for what’s working and what isn’t and where change can be helpful.

I’ve worked for people who have made grand, sweeping gestures for change just because they thought they had to, without fully investigating what actually happens behind the scenes. When working with a company or organization, one of my very first questions is “How do things get done?” If the chief executive can’t answer the question, that’s one thing. If the people on the ground level don’t know, that’s a bigger issue. Everyone and every organization works differently. This is true for everything from research and development to social media marketing. What works for one person may not work for another.

Change for change’s sake rarely works well in the long term. What works is learning from others. What works is working together. Dreamers are great. Alone, however, they can’t do much. They need people who can help make dreams a reality. They need to understand the way things work.

Social Slam 2012

On Friday, April 27 I’ll be presenting at the Social Media Club Knoxville’s Social Slam 2012. This year, Social Slam aims to showcase the brightest new voices in the field by offering several innovative panels and “slams” that will put a spotlight on up and coming thinkers in social media marketing. I am honored to be a part of one these panels – 50 Huge New Ideas in 50 Minutes – at which I’ll be discussing 10 big ideas on Community Management in 10 minutes.  Continue reading