Digital Marketing, Social Media Strategy, PR 20, Social Media Marketing

Strategy Destroys Social Media Tools

I’ve written a lot about social media strategic planning and how to find the “hook” for your social media efforts.

Why do I write more about strategy than I do about social media tools and tactics? First, because I’ve been an Internet marketing strategist for 15 years, so that perspective is my home turf.

But second and more importantly, is that if you get too caught up in the tools themselves instead of why the tools work in abstract, you’re going to be crying into your keyboard when the tools change. And they will.

From Standbys to Bygones

We’re not even shaving yet, we’re so far from maturity in social media. We’re in the 1999 era, where you have explosive start-up activity – much of it with zero revenue stream. New and better tools will be coming along, and many of today’s standbys will be surpassed or inadvertently killed off by new partners.

Do you really think that Twitter would survive a Google acquisition intact? Could Facebook remain vibrant under the umbrella of Microsoft or Yahoo!? If you are nodding your head, you might want to think about Excite (once a leading search engine, then killed by a new corporate parent), or eGroups and Geocities (formerly huge and then drained of life after being bought by Yahoo!).

Your job should be to learn what people want from tools, not what tools do for people.

And in the spirit of David Armano, here’s a little visual to remind you of how the online world can change and seemingly dominant players can be usurped:

share of search 1999 Strategy Destroys Social Media Tools

Are you thinking about why tools work, not which tools work?

Related
  • http://www.areyousociallyacceptable.com/ Amanda

    I know we consistently have this debate of the worth of the tool vs the worth of the strategy. I don’t disagree with your assertion that things will change and they’ll change fast.

    I guess I just disagree with the force with which you present the idea of strategy. You talk about the personification of a company’s identity through these tools, about how organic they are, the power they have to connect people- all of which I concur on. The concept of strategy seems to fly in the face of those principles, especially for SM beginners.

    I would rather that companies get their feet wet by floundering about in the sea of social media expousing on how good their coffee is and what they did that weekend than over extend themselves on strategy. I find that most companies are all too eager to sell and want to see how twitter and facebook can be used to sell, and have to be hammered again and again about how its a conversation. All to often they hop onto a platform get bit in the ass when they try too hard to serve a goal, rather than to simply engage.

    Once they are enmeshed in what Social Media is and how it works, THEN they can understand how to deploy a strategy. By that same measure, once they are enmeshed, the wall of fear is down and it won’t matter what medium comes along.. they’ll be willing to try it fearlessly.

    I completely understand what you’re saying, but I would argue not to devalue the general “tooliness” of these platforms.

  • http://www.areyousociallyacceptable.com Amanda

    I know we consistently have this debate of the worth of the tool vs the worth of the strategy. I don’t disagree with your assertion that things will change and they’ll change fast.

    I guess I just disagree with the force with which you present the idea of strategy. You talk about the personification of a company’s identity through these tools, about how organic they are, the power they have to connect people- all of which I concur on. The concept of strategy seems to fly in the face of those principles, especially for SM beginners.

    I would rather that companies get their feet wet by floundering about in the sea of social media expousing on how good their coffee is and what they did that weekend than over extend themselves on strategy. I find that most companies are all too eager to sell and want to see how twitter and facebook can be used to sell, and have to be hammered again and again about how its a conversation. All to often they hop onto a platform get bit in the ass when they try too hard to serve a goal, rather than to simply engage.

    Once they are enmeshed in what Social Media is and how it works, THEN they can understand how to deploy a strategy. By that same measure, once they are enmeshed, the wall of fear is down and it won’t matter what medium comes along.. they’ll be willing to try it fearlessly.

    I completely understand what you’re saying, but I would argue not to devalue the general “tooliness” of these platforms.

  • http://tysoncrosbie.com tysoncrosbie

    Jason,
    Great perspective. Great that you have some, I fear for most jumping on the social media bandwagon. Just like the internet and e commerce was thought to be a magic bullet, this too will only work for those that: 1) truly innovate. 2) maintain other strategies 3) have a big enough brand to ignore it then absorb it.

  • http://tysoncrosbie.com tysoncrosbie

    Jason,
    Great perspective. Great that you have some, I fear for most jumping on the social media bandwagon. Just like the internet and e commerce was thought to be a magic bullet, this too will only work for those that: 1) truly innovate. 2) maintain other strategies 3) have a big enough brand to ignore it then absorb it.

  • http://www.offmadisonave.com/ William Smith

    Honestly, I think Twitter could survive a Google acquisition but Facebook? Not a chance.

    Interestingly, in the case of Twitter I find that strategy and tools serve as hand-in-hand limitations.

    Twitter is only useful as a part of your marketing strategy when your network grows. However, Twitter as a tool becomes unwieldy to manage when your network is large because you can’t possibly interact and “follow” your followers. My personal network, which was initially built upon the idea that i’d use Twitter to 1) follow other marketing pros and 2) find a job, is now too large for me. It feels impersonal and the tools stink. Sure, Tweetdeck can help you segment your followers, but I find that i miss out on the majority of the conversations.

    Even when you look at big brands using Twitter in a meaningful way – Whole Foods for example – i miss almost every message they post, even the ones that I really want to catch (like discount codes or gift cards) because they get drowned out.

    I am starting to lean to Facebook because i have more control over my interactions. I love how I can get a rich amount of information on my friends, and tweak the amount of notifications I receive from each. I also love how you can join groups of other users which interest you.

    See, I think Google would actually “mature” Twitter, making it better for everyone. If you look at Twitter’s evolution, it is essentially the service that launched at SWSX a few years ago. Facebook on the other hand is already matured, so I would see a company like MS come in and try to mold it into something else.

    William Smith’s last blog post..Wikipedia raises $6.2 Million in Donations

  • http://www.offmadisonave.com William Smith

    Honestly, I think Twitter could survive a Google acquisition but Facebook? Not a chance.

    Interestingly, in the case of Twitter I find that strategy and tools serve as hand-in-hand limitations.

    Twitter is only useful as a part of your marketing strategy when your network grows. However, Twitter as a tool becomes unwieldy to manage when your network is large because you can’t possibly interact and “follow” your followers. My personal network, which was initially built upon the idea that i’d use Twitter to 1) follow other marketing pros and 2) find a job, is now too large for me. It feels impersonal and the tools stink. Sure, Tweetdeck can help you segment your followers, but I find that i miss out on the majority of the conversations.

    Even when you look at big brands using Twitter in a meaningful way – Whole Foods for example – i miss almost every message they post, even the ones that I really want to catch (like discount codes or gift cards) because they get drowned out.

    I am starting to lean to Facebook because i have more control over my interactions. I love how I can get a rich amount of information on my friends, and tweak the amount of notifications I receive from each. I also love how you can join groups of other users which interest you.

    See, I think Google would actually “mature” Twitter, making it better for everyone. If you look at Twitter’s evolution, it is essentially the service that launched at SWSX a few years ago. Facebook on the other hand is already matured, so I would see a company like MS come in and try to mold it into something else.

    William Smith’s last blog post..Wikipedia raises $6.2 Million in Donations

  • http://bit.ly/CMA_blog jeffpontes

    I tend to be a strong advocate of planning a thorough strategy versus shooting arrows in the dark and hoping to hit the target. I’ve seen this done on numerous occasions where companies hear about all of the buzz surrounding social media and feel that they need to be in the “game” sooner than later or risk missing their window of opportunity.

    At the same time I do agree that getting a better understanding of the medium (social media) is critical to be able to develop an effective communication strategy. This means full immersion into the social media culture and understanding how social media tools are used by individuals and companies.

    Through this process marketers can begin to establish genuine two way conversation and will then find themselves to be a qualified member of the “trust economy”.

    Jeff Pontes’s last blog post..Barack Obama, The Social Media President

  • http://www.strategysocial.blogspot.com Jeff Pontes

    I tend to be a strong advocate of planning a thorough strategy versus shooting arrows in the dark and hoping to hit the target. I’ve seen this done on numerous occasions where companies hear about all of the buzz surrounding social media and feel that they need to be in the “game” sooner than later or risk missing their window of opportunity.

    At the same time I do agree that getting a better understanding of the medium (social media) is critical to be able to develop an effective communication strategy. This means full immersion into the social media culture and understanding how social media tools are used by individuals and companies.

    Through this process marketers can begin to establish genuine two way conversation and will then find themselves to be a qualified member of the “trust economy”.

    Jeff Pontes’s last blog post..Barack Obama, The Social Media President

  • http://apartmentmarketing101.blogspot.com/ @CharityHisle

    You just gained a new email subscriber! Thanks!

    @CharityHisle’s last blog post..Sometimes You’re Gonna Step In It…

  • http://apartmentmarketing101.blogspot.com/ @CharityHisle

    You just gained a new email subscriber! Thanks!

    @CharityHisle’s last blog post..Sometimes You’re Gonna Step In It…

  • http://www.ecairn.com/ dominique

    I’m the ceo of a startup building tool ( with some revenue stream) .. and I fully agree ;-) .

    As a matter of fact, from the people that use our solution( a social media marketing platform that is “though” top-down and not keyword up ), the one that really benefit from the usage are the one that

    1- have built a strategy upfront ( what community do we want to listen to, learn from, influence, sell …)
    2- have planed the resources for executing against the strategy (

    Last but not least, I also see many people that jump into social media without strategies and that’s a recipe for failure.

    If you can’t identify a community that you want to work with, there is no point in building a social media effort. There is probably no community for “people building pens” whereas there are multiple communities in domains like personal finance, high tech, food, travel …

    Our dream clients are people that can establish clear ‘goals ‘along with tactical plans like:

    - we’re going to be recognize as a leader for “financial responsibility” in the personal finance community.
    - we will identify xx leads for our IT security consulting by delivering content to professional in search of responses to the following problems, y times per week.
    - we will build high quality content to get bookmarked by xx delicious user a week and retweeted yy times a week. our blog with be referenced by 50% of the top 100 in the industry.
    - we will get 25% share of voice, and 90% of positive mentions in the cosmetic blogs, LinkedIn Q&A,Yahoo Q&A or Twitter that name our brand.

    So thanks for your effort to put strategy first !

    Best

  • http://www.ecairn.com dominique

    I’m the ceo of a startup building tool ( with some revenue stream) .. and I fully agree ;-) .

    As a matter of fact, from the people that use our solution( a social media marketing platform that is “though” top-down and not keyword up ), the one that really benefit from the usage are the one that

    1- have built a strategy upfront ( what community do we want to listen to, learn from, influence, sell …)
    2- have planed the resources for executing against the strategy (

    Last but not least, I also see many people that jump into social media without strategies and that’s a recipe for failure.

    If you can’t identify a community that you want to work with, there is no point in building a social media effort. There is probably no community for “people building pens” whereas there are multiple communities in domains like personal finance, high tech, food, travel …

    Our dream clients are people that can establish clear ‘goals ‘along with tactical plans like:

    - we’re going to be recognize as a leader for “financial responsibility” in the personal finance community.
    - we will identify xx leads for our IT security consulting by delivering content to professional in search of responses to the following problems, y times per week.
    - we will build high quality content to get bookmarked by xx delicious user a week and retweeted yy times a week. our blog with be referenced by 50% of the top 100 in the industry.
    - we will get 25% share of voice, and 90% of positive mentions in the cosmetic blogs, LinkedIn Q&A,Yahoo Q&A or Twitter that name our brand.

    So thanks for your effort to put strategy first !

    Best

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  • http://www.twitter.com/ScottHepburn Scott Hepburn

    Nice work on this, Jay. It calls to mind the lyrics of an Old 97s song called “The New Kid” — YouTube video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBU3Tv7yZvw

    Scott Hepburn’s last blog post..ScottHepburn: Remember Googlewhacking? http://is.gd/fz7w Can you find a Twitterwhack using Twitter Search? Because we need another time waster…

  • http://www.twitter.com/ScottHepburn Scott Hepburn

    Nice work on this, Jay. It calls to mind the lyrics of an Old 97s song called “The New Kid” — YouTube video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBU3Tv7yZvw

    Scott Hepburn’s last blog post..ScottHepburn: Remember Googlewhacking? http://is.gd/fz7w Can you find a Twitterwhack using Twitter Search? Because we need another time waster…

  • http://www.steigmancommunications.com/ Daria Steigman

    Hi Jay,

    Thank you for weighing in on the importance of strategy first. You’re absolutely right that we need to understand “what people want from tools, not what tools do for people.” Terrific post. And I love the Google-less graphic!

    Best,
    Daria

  • http://www.steigmancommunications.com Daria Steigman

    Hi Jay,

    Thank you for weighing in on the importance of strategy first. You’re absolutely right that we need to understand “what people want from tools, not what tools do for people.” Terrific post. And I love the Google-less graphic!

    Best,
    Daria

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  • http://twitter.com/xnikos/status/2294033800 Nikos Xydas

    History: Why Strategy Outlives Tools http://bit.ly/16BuQU

  • Nikos Xydas

    History: Why Strategy Outlives Tools http://bit.ly/16BuQU

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