Just 22 days ago, on the 8th of June, the minds over at Mashable.com decided we needed Social Media Day, a special day on the Gregorian calendar celebrating social dialogue and the tools and platforms enabling the "revolution" (Mashable's word, not mine). And they decided that day would be today. While I'm all for raising awareness of social media, it seems to me that the vast majority of businesses would be better off celebrating Social Media Strategy Day.
As Tac Anderson of Waggener Edstrom points out in The 3 Types of Social Media Strategy, what's missing from most social media strategy is the actual strategy part. That's a bingo! In my experience, far too many companies launch themselves into the web's socially enabled ecosystem with nary a clue as to how their efforts relate to business strategy and ultimately, the bottom line.
We all know of businesses that have a Facebook Business Page or Twitter account, give it the old college try for the first month or so, and by day 90--when they've either become sidetracked by other areas of the business or don't see a social media-related impact on the bottom line--throw their hands up in the air and arrogantly proclaim that social media marketing doesn't work.
Well, duh. If you don't have a business-aligned strategy to guide your efforts in the first place, social media marketing isn't going to work for your business. In fact, according to the folks at Digital Brand Expressions, nearly 60 percent of businesses today don't have a strategic media communications plan to guide their social media efforts. With numbers like those, it's no wonder so many company blogs, Facebook business pages and business-related Twitter accounts either sit dormant for weeks on end, or contain little more than ill-advised advertisements or "deal of the day" posts.
If your business has a social media presence and you operate without a business-aligned social media strategy, you're going in through a series of heavily trafficked and fast closing "out" doors . . . wearing a blindfold. Do yourself a favor (and not just because today is supposedly Social Media Day), address exactly how word-of-mouth, social media, and social networking relates to your businesses top line goals. Decide who or what department in the organization "owns" the effort (versus who serves as a "vendor"). And then determine how all of this shows up in your communications strategy. In the meantime, save the celebrations until you've worked out and adopted a viable social media strategy (and, in case you're wondering, "my strategy is to have no strategy," doesn't count).
Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. For more information, visit MikalBelicove.com.