Social Media for business: Think STRATEGY First!

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Although I've spent the last 20 years building businesses and developing leaders I am new to social media and so I've loved learning from the rich social media community in Seattle and Bellevue. 

In the past 60 day's I've attended Social Media 101 on the Microsoft Campus led by Joe Kennedy from Eastside Entrepreneurs and sponsored by Comcast and Microsoft. I've facilitated a 4-part Reinvention Forumhosted by non-profit World Impact network with local social media specialist such as Andru Edwards from Gear Live, Ethan Yarbrough from Allyis ,  Patrick Byers from Outsource Marketing and Eric Weavera digital  branding expert fromTribal DBA in Canada.  I even attended the very geeky and yet super cool Gnomedexconference hosted by social media wizard Chris Pirillo.

I am amazed at how quickly technology is democratizing our world and the marketplace especially. I love the fact that anyone with a computer can now be; publisher, editor and creator. In a world where 1.6 billion people are on line, FaceBook has over 300,000 unique visitors a month, My Trip Advisor and Yelp over 25M unique visitors a month and Twitter boasting numbers as high as 70M it's apparent the art of being 'found' (Eric Weaver's term) is the new game in marketing/communications.

Community transcends geography. With distrust running at an all time high consumers are aligning with their friends, and in affinity groups. Research shows people are  80-90% likely to trust friends and affinity groups for product/service referrals. 

At Social Media 101, on Friday September 25th Andru Edwards explained, that what was an appropriate use of social media for his company may not be appropriate for attendee's ventures.

As a business strategist it was all I could do not to stand on the desk salute Andru and yell "Captain, Oh Captain!"

Seriously though, as a 20 year student of business strategy, marketing, venture creation it scares the beegeezes (think humongous fire flies) out of me when social media speakers do not explain the strategical; communication thinking behind the tactics/case studies they present.

The reason we need to think and talk about business and communication strategy whenever we develop a social media plan was illustrated in a conversation at a birthday party I attended over the weekend. An expert in the tech field commented he was always surprised when a programmer assumed that the creation of a new program, in and of itself  was success. As we talked he explained that success in programing is determined by understanding WHAT the program was designed to do and evaluating the program against it's intent/goal.

So too it is with business and life.

Thinking matters. Thinking not doing is the first step to growing your business now.

 I have to admit I've been seduced by the excitement around the technology and the social media tools, and I've executed lots of activities and tactics that are not tied to my overarching strategy or goals.

The frantic nature of today's economy, the volatility of the marketplace seem to reinforce the false belief that we need to do something, anything, maybe everything or we will be left in the back of the pack.

 I'd argue because of the very nature of the marketplace and the world we find ourself in that there's never been a better time to step back, and practice THINKING before acting.

Here are a few questions I use to get new clients thinking about strategy, goals and objectives.

Business Strategy WHAT questions:

What is the problem(s) we solve?

What are our solutions; products and services

 What is the mission of our company?

What is our brand promise/value proposition?

WHAT IS THE 'benefit' that clients derive

What is the profile of our client(s)?

What is the big idea our clients, vendors and employees and alliances are connected by?

What are the connections/channels/ways in which clients engage/acquire our products/services?

What is our pricing/monetizing/making money strategy:

What is our communication strategy?


A few of my HOW will we use social Media questions:

How can we use social media to be FOUND? ( thanks @weave)

How will we engage clients and prospective clients on line and offline?

How can we use social media as a listening device/research?

How can we use social media to increase client satisfaction?

How can we use social media to develop better systems, processes?

How can we use social media  ( enterprise 2.0) to improve the culture/job satisfaction of our employees?

How can we use social media to engage?

How can we use social media to allow our tribe to tell their stories about us?

How can we engage our tribe in helping us develop new, better products and services?

 How do we help our clients become brand evangelist?

 Remember tools and technology are only as good as the thinking behind them

Social Media: Think Strategy First!

Now ready, set..GO

Pam Hoelzle

@pamhoelzle on twitter

pam hoelzle @ comcast. net

No Responses to “Social Media for business: Think STRATEGY First!”

  1. Ross Simmonds

    Great post Pam, it hits the nail right on the head in regards to making a clear differentiation between the tools we use and the strategies behind them. So many people believe that social media tools such as Twitter and Linkedin are the end-all-be-all and ultimately the solution to their brand and marketing problems. However, that is not the case! Like you said “Thinking not doing is the first step to growing your business” – if people would just start THINKING before ACTING the results will be far greater down the road.
    If there isn’t a strategy behind your tweets or blog you need to start coming up with one; plain and simple. And the list of questions that you’ve come up with is definitely a step in the right direction for anyone trying to establish a social media strategy – Keep up the great work.

  2. Pam Hoelzle

    Thanks Ross- I appreciate your participation. They are just tools right and the art of communication is still an intentional one driven by WHAT the heck do we hope to accomplish, wish to communicate! Onward