I was in a Barnes & Noble store recently and noticed a shelf area called “Trends in Business.” On it was one book after the other touting the virtues of social media for marketing purposes.
What concerned me was that most of the titles related directly to tools. At least six of them were about Facebook, another six about Twitter, two were focused on blogging, there was one about YouTube, and so on.
This was evidence of a focus that, to me, is unhealthy. Consumers are putting much more emphasis on the “how” and less on the “why” … tactics before strategy. I think that is a mistake. It’s classic putting the cart before the horse. Unless you understand why you’re doing something, it makes little sense to learn how.
Here is an outline I like to follow when speaking to groups about this topic:
- Be aware of the problems that mandate the use of social media.
- Understand the principles underlying its use.
- Determine the purposes by which you need to use social media.
- Implement a plan of action.
- Decide on the practices (tools) to be used.
- Never forget that social media is about people first and foremost.
Though not following this outline explicitly, this slide deck explains my thoughts in greater detail: The Digital Handshake: Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media.
I admit to re-examining my approach to see if it can be a bit more tactical in orientation while working on the strategic aspects. I’m convinced, however, you can’t have one without the other.
How about you? Do you think a focus on tactics at the expense of strategy is a mistake? Is there an undue emphasis on the tool set at the expense of the mindset?