Strategy, Why? comes before Technology, How? Banning the BS from Social Media Part 1.

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A little while ago we established and shared our 10 Commandments for Banning the BS from Social Media.  Yeah, we think they make sense and we know what, we mean . But, we wanted to explicitly explain each one, so that you’ll be able to understand what we mean when we say “Strategy, Why? comes before Technology, How?”, and, more importantly so that you can share your thoughts and questions with us.

This is Part 1 of a 10 part series exploring how to Ban the BS from Social Media. The series looks at some of the key elements for successfully implementing a Social Media and Social Business Strategy.  Each Part is derived from our 10 Commandments for Banning the BS from Social Media.

PART 1:  Strategy, Why? comes before Technology, How?

The Tools aren’t important.  The Outcomes are!

Tools vs Strategy


If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me to set up a Facebook page for them without knowing why they wanted one … you know how the rest goes.

If you’re running a business and someone wants to buy some new expensive wizfadangled toy to help you do things faster, better, etc, the first thing most people ask is … WHY? Why do we need it? For what purpose? How will it benefit our Strategic and Operational Objectives?

So WHY? wouldn’t you apply the same sound business practices to investing time, effort and money into a Social Media presence.

Let’s take a model company establishing their strategy as an example.  Assume they’ve established real and meaningful Mission, Vision and Values, What comes next?

  1. Strategic Objectives to meet the Mission, Vision and Values … then …
  2. Operational Objectives that support the Strategic Objectives … then …
  3. Social Media (or Social Business) Objectives supporting the Operational Objectives.

The pyramid below illustrates the story.  Ask yourself WHY? and you go to the top of the pyramid and the Strategic Objective. Ask yourself HOW? and you go to the middle and bottom of the pyramid, the Operational and Social Media or Social Business Objectives.

Social Media Strategy Pyramid - The Social Larder

You might notice I’ve used the terms Social Media and Social Business.  It’s important to make sure the difference between the two is clearly defined. Social Media is the PR & Marketing sub-set of Social Business.

For a great explanation of the difference between Social Media and Social Business it’s well worth taking the time to watch this 2 min video, from one of the world leaders in Social Business, IBM’s Sandy Carter – VP Social Business Evangelism.

Social Business is taking a Strategic Approach to running a business which utilises available Social Media, Web 2.0, and other digital tools and technologies, to meet strategic business objectives considering all aspects of the business and stakeholders, both internal and external. Social Business applies these technologies to all areas of the business with the higher level aim of:

  1. Increasing the number and frequency of constructive interactions.
  2. The level of active participation.
  3. The depth of relationships between stakeholders.
  4.  Enabling and accelerating collaboration to get things done.

Bringing this back to putting Strategy – Why? before Technology – How?  You can’t get to How? in any meaningful way, that is not going to result in Random Acts of Social Media and wasting your time, effort and $, without first establishing WHY?


The real life example of this might be:

Strategic Objective – Reduce Customer Support Costs by 50% and Increase Customer Satisfaction by 50% over the next 12 months.

Operational Objective – Establish a Social Media program to provide Customer Support and Real Time Service. Customer Support & Service, to run in parallel with existing services aimed at reducing the number of issues and their resolution time.

Social Media Objective – Determine the most appropriate channels and best suited tools to allow customers to engage, request and be provided with support and service.  Prioritise and implement the top two Social Media channels, over a 6 month period. Promote channel through traditional physical and other contact points eg on the phone “… just so you know we’ve got a Twitter Support account is that would be easier for you. It’s manned from 7am to 10pm, 7 days a week.” Integrate with existing channels.

NOTE:  Not once has a specific social media tool been mentioned.  The tools change over time, and, the best one for you, may not be the best for another business.  The Tool or Channel should be chosen based on its ability to best meet the Strategic and Operational Objectives, to best help you develop a long term relationship with your chosen communities.  Strategy, Why? comes before Technology, How?

The applications for Social Tools are not purely limited to Marketing & PR endeavours.  Every aspect of a business can use appropriate tools.  We are increasingly seeing great examples of how these tools can and have been used throughout all aspects of businesses.

For each Strategic Objective that your business has try using the pyramid to establish the Operational Objectives and then the Social Business Objectives that you want to implement.

Looking to the future, over time as business get used to the concepts of Social Business, they will become second nature and simply be embedded into the Operational Objectives, no longer requiring an additional category.

Top Tips:

  1. Put Strategy, Why? Before Technologies, How?
  2. The Tools aren’t important.  The outcomes are!
  3. Think about things from a Social Business perspective and try to apply the Social Business Strategy Pyramid to all aspects of your business, not just Marketing and PR.

Next Up:

Part 2: Take a Systems Approach.

Take the Pledge Ban the BS from Social Media!

What are you doing to put Strategy, Why? before Technology, How?

As always we’d love to hear: What you think? Any questions you have? So, leave a comment and follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our blog or RSS feed to stay up to date with this Series on Banning the BS from Social Media and other blog posts.

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