My friend Bob Thompson wrote an intriguing post about the status of Social Media, which in turn sparked this post. Basically those companies who have a brilliant social media strategy don’t brag about it. And the reason is simple: Why should you share some of your most significant competitive advantages. As many of you know, I’m involved in several of those major strategy developments and can’t and won’t talk about it other than teaching how it is done.
New technology was always introduced with big announcements. We were proud of installing this or that, whether it was CRM, ERP, CAD or XYZ. Social Media however is different. We put our toes in the water, then we do more, hire an agency and the agency does a big splash about our social media initiative which is nothing more than a tactical and often less successful marketing campaign. Again – social media is like sex – we won’t talk about it – unless we don’t have sex and may brag what we dream about it as if…
A social media strategy is first and foremost about our plans to be more social, more caring, more approachable, reach out farther, expand our presence, be a better company do everything we can with one goal in mind: “have more people who want to do business with us”. This goal is fundamentally different to the goal of “having more revenue”.
This goal is like finding more partners that love us, it is about more friends more relationships. If a company can reach that goal, that company knows that it achieved a sustainable position in the market with a positive long term effect. If you look at Apple as a company that made more revenue and profits and you try to find out how the company is managed and how it is structured and where the key items in their balance sheet are – you look at the wrong direction. If you look at Apple as a company where more and more people want to buy their products and want to be a customer, you look at how they sell, what they produce, how they service the market, what they do for business partners and how they develop their ecosystem. If you look at Zappos as a company and what they did to completely outperform all their competitors and how they grew the revenue they did, you may look at their margins, the effectiveness of their operations, what their product portfolio looks like and how profitable their vendors are. Again – you look in the wrong direction. Instead if you look why so many people want to do business with Zappos, what fascinates their customers, why they get recommended so often, what those customers want and why they prefer Zappos over others, you learn about the love Zappos puts into their customer relationships, their company culture and the customer experience.
Most businesses are in “Social Media Puberty” – ignore what is said, know it all better, and just want to have sex (revenue). Only after the many attempts, trial and error, they find out that there is much more involved to succeed than what THEY want. The leadership team, like a young man is coming to their single biggest discovery in their evolution: ‘It makes all the difference, when you figure out what the girl / customer wants’.
That’s the point in time when you develop a strategy that is in both cases a strategy of life. It very much involves who you are, what you want and finding the other party that likes what you do. The emancipation of customers brings yet another twist to the game and it is getting even more complicated. And said strategy is becoming more mandatory for a successful end.
Once we developed our plans and have a pretty good idea what we want, we stop bragging about it, we just follow our plan. We may tell everybody and his dog about a new car, the next party, the movie we are going to see but we won’t say a word how we attract the partner of our future. And with our customers there is no difference. Did you chat with your friends how they think about this or that approach? Most likely, so chat with your customers about your strategic thoughts. Did you give your love some indication what you want to do in the future and check if that is a match? Do that with your customer. Did you start planning the future with your love, even though it may not go this way? Do that with your customer.
Now – there are obviously thousands of things that are different, man versus a company and building a relationship between a team of many employees and a whole market makes it even more complicated. But that is what the Social Media Strategy is all about. And as you can imagine the old strategy models won’t hold in this new environment.