It’s easy to think that strategy is a siloed task best undertaken by a planning team, but that’s far from the case. The best strategies are delivered by a multi-disciplined team with differing levels of experience. And never more so than when it comes to social media – there are so many moving parts. Here are our in-the-know hints and tips for producing your best strategy.
Approaching strategies strategically
Do you want a strategy or a best practice guide? – In a world as fast paced as social, it’s always best to start your strategy by understanding what you want to achieve. Is it a social media strategy or actually a best practice guide that’s needed – it’s important to understand the difference, so that everyone expects the same output. A strategy lays out how you’re going to get to your end goal. It is your approach and the plan-of-action. But, it is not the tactics.
We find what many marketers want is more of a playbook for their teams. A guide to best practice. This is entirely different to a strategy and doesn’t give the direction or the specifics that will deliver business impact.
Interrogate the brief and ask questions – Don’t dive straight in without really interrogating what you need out of your strategy. Spend time going through the brief line-by-line, underlining important points, asking questions. There are never any silly questions, you need to keep asking ‘Why?’ if you want to get to the bottom of the challenges and the goals. It’ll help you define what you really need to answer in the strategy.
Work as a team – Social strategy isn’t a single person job. Assemble a team with a broad range of backgrounds, from planning and analytics to creative and implementation, who can all contribute positively to the strategy and will complement each other’s strengths. Someone buried in the paid social formats contributes as much as the person pulling social data into insights for the planning. This will bring you a whole range of expertise to solve problems and develop the best approach to your social.
Break the strategy work down into sections – Don’t try to do everything at once! From the interrogation of the brief, break the strategy down into sections and assign tasks to different team members. This makes a daunting task much easier to handle! Remember to come together at the end of each task to discuss the findings and next steps.
Too much data? It can be easy to be overwhelmed by data, but this is where the right team and the right questions come into play. You’ll be able to look for the right data through your questioning, and your team will be able to interpret it correctly.
Not enough data! This is one of the biggest challenges that come from our clients – they don’t have enough data to sufficiently answer their own brief. This is where our partnerships with GlobalWebIndex and Brandwatch come into their own. Having qualified team members helps too 😉
Finding the time – The worst mistake you can make is to think you’ll be able to dip in and out of strategy in-between your other tasks. To be effective, you’ll need to set aside time to complete whole tasks that contribute to the wider strategy. Depending on your office situation, this might mean booking a meeting room for an entire morning and squirrelling yourself (or your strategy team) away from emails and phone calls to get stuff done.
Strategies don’t happen in one sitting – Don’t kid yourself into thinking you can get a strategy done in one day. You need to give yourself time to consider the questions you’re asking, gather the data you need, put your initial theories in place and then pull them apart again. You won’t get it right first time. We consider strategies to be at least one month-long in duration.
Awkward arguments happen – If you’re doing your strategy right, you’re likely to disagree with another member of your team and that’s not a bad thing! Be prepared to put on your adult pants, disagree constructively and back up your opinions with facts to come out with the best strategy you can.
Tips for triumph
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – Asking for help doesn’t mean failure. Even go outside your assigned strategy team if you think it will help you.
Don’t get lost down a rabbit hole – Having access to oodles of data can be fun and distracting! Keep your end goal in mind at all times. Ask yourself again and again if your work answers your questions, so you don’t get distracted from the strategy brief.
Design your strategy to travel – Within your organisation there’ll be people of all different levels and disciplines that might look at your work, sometimes without you there to explain it. That means you need to design a document that is self-explanatory and works on its own.
Understand what’s statistically evidential – You can look at oodles of data, but if it’s not statistically evidential then you’ll be basing your strategy on flawed logic. Always check the surveyed audience size and make sure you’re not basing your entire strategy on the thoughts of 10 people! Ensure the data comes from widespread locations across your target audience, for example, make sure your data doesn’t show regional bias.
Be cynical – Don’t trust everything you read straight away and don’t assume your data’s always right. Look at it twice, ask someone else to look over everything with fresh eyes, and question everything you have. It’s the only way you’ll come out with a robust strategy that you’ll defend time and again.
Use your strategy! Once you’ve written your strategy and you’ve got buy-in from all stakeholders remember to use it – that’s why you made it! Revisit it regularly and align all your work with it.
So, there you have our value adds, bugbears and tips about social media strategies. They’re always big old pieces of work and we just love getting our teeth sunk into a strategy. They might hurt your brain, but they’re a game-changer when done right.
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