Social media is a tactic, not a strategy.
I’m not the first to say this but I’m writing about it because I think this simple mindset switch can save social media professionals from over-inflating the effectiveness of social. Putting social media in its proper context allows us to get past its over-hyped nature and get to work.
So, here’s an analogy:
If you are going to build a birdhouse you will need a hammer. You will need to know how to properly handle that hammer. You will not need a hammer strategy.
You should not buy a hammer and THEN come up with reasons to use it. Your hammer won’t always be the right tool for the job. You should only use it when it will be effective. And it can be hard to know when you should use your hammer because when you have a hammer all of your problems tend to look like nails.
This is a blunt analogy, I know, but social is that hammer. It’s a means to an end – a tool you use (among others) to get the job done, whether that job is building brand awareness, increasing website traffic, or delivering customer service. Social media is a tactic to achieve these strategies.
Social media should not be thought of as something “other” that gets its own strategy based on social-specific metrics that none of us can confidently say mean anything to the bottom line (spoiler alert!). It’s hard to measure the value of a share, but there are some things that social is unambiguously effective at. Customer service, driving website traffic, app download campaigns, and e-commerce are a few.
Don’t get me wrong, social should be applied strategically.
I’m talking about the big picture. Framing social media as a tactic allows you to work on the things that matter most to your firm, instead of constantly trying to justify why you’re getting paid to “tweet all day.”
And this doesn’t diminish the role of social media professionals – on the contrary. The same reason SEO and SEM Managers still exist instead of only Digital Marketing Managers is the reason we need Social Media Managers: social media is a unique and complex tool that requires a dedicated base of knowledge in order to effectively implement it.