Let’s say you discovered a new process that could revolutionize your business. Lets say this process enables you to do more with less and allows you to engage all stakeholders efficiently. Lets say this new process holds the promise for the future of your business.
That being said would you simply use the process or plan to use the process effectively?
If you decided to simply use the process without planning for its use then the probability of achieving the potential it offers is slim to none. It would be like driving without a map, starting a trip with no destination in mind or defined routes to get where you want to go. Even if you know where you want to go without a plan you may end up going nowhere.
Going nowhere is the best way to describe the majority of organizations using social media.
What Comes First, A Plan or a Strategy?
Strategy is distinct from tactics. Tactics is concerned with the conduct of an engagement while strategy is concerned with how different engagements are linked. In other words, how a plan is executed is a matter of tactics: the terms by which a plan is executed and whether it should be executed at all is a matter of strategy. Business strategy is the overarching, long-term plan of operations that will achieve the economic objectives of the organization. It is part of the four levels of business success: organizational goals, strategy, operations, and tactics.
A plan without a strategy is a waste of resources, productivity and time. Wasting resources, productivity and time does not produce economic gains.
The Social Media Wasteland
According to the R2i study, while a majority of marketing professionals and company decision makers view social media as essential to their business, most have not made any money using it. However, the R2i study makes a compelling case for a social media strategy. It compared the 35% of companies that reported increased revenue or profit using social media with the companies that did not report a growth outcome. Those benefiting were:
- About twice as likely to have a formal social media strategy
- Almost twice as likely to have a dedicated headcount for managing social media
- About twice as likely to rate themselves as “proficient” or “expert”
- Almost three times as likely to have read a book on social media
Matt Goddard, CEO, R2i said “Despite the presence and popularity of social media, many companies remain relatively unfamiliar with its practices, pundits, and principles.”
Some interesting highlights from the DBE report include:
- Of the firms reporting that they have no plan in place for social media, DBE found 88% agree it is important to have such a plan, suggesting perhaps the lack of a cohesive planning process is preventing the company from moving forward to adopt strategies for the social channel.
- Of those companies that work from some plan, 94% say that marketing activities are included in the plan and 71% say that the Marketing Department is the group with the primary responsibility for creating and maintaining the firm’s social media presence.
- Seventy-one percent of respondents with a plan (71%) indicate they use social media for public relations communications, and 55% say that they use social media for sales-related activities. Only 16% say their human resources team is using social media for recruiting, employee retention, training and development, etc. Just 26% use it for customer service.
- Of those companies that don’t have a strategic plan but think it is important to create one, the number one activity rated as important to include in a social media plan is allocating resources for ongoing activities.
The above report emphasizes both a plan and a strategy. Notice the report above says those benefiting from social media compared to those that don’t were twice as likely to have a formal social media strategy. Remember the terms by which a plan is executed and whether it should be executed at all is a matter of strategy. You may have a plan but without a clear strategy your plan will take you to the social media wastelands.