Social media strategy: who needs it?

Social media is often associated with chitchat and silliness. It has an image problem amongst ‘serious’ marketers, our Head of Strategy debunks the problem with the approach many big brands are taking with their social strategies.


That terrible word that gets chucked around far too often when social media is talked about.

Social media is often associated with chitchat and silliness. It has an image problem amongst ‘serious’ marketers, and this sort of waffle-related piffle getting bandied about can’t be doing much for its street cred.

Can’t be bothered to read the article? Well, at least read this one. US chain Waffle House’s social media strategist claims there is no strategy behind their activity – which includes deliberate spelling mistakes, jumping onto topical bandwagons and not using Photoshop to ‘dress up’ their tweets.

And yet, they are ‘successful’ – in the sense at least that they are raising awareness of their position on Belgian vs American waffles and their support for the US soccer team and growing their Twitter following into the tens of thousands.

This is precisely the thing that serious social media strategists are railing against. In the whistleblowing article Confessions of a Social Media Strategist, an anonymous poster denounced the system that social media professionals work within, because it is on the whole stupid and focused on the wrong things, i.e.

  • Focus on false metrics such as likes, retweets and numbers of followers only serves to gather the wrong kind of followers – when what you should really be looking for is reach and frequency of engagement with those who are truly on board with the brand
  • A misunderstanding of what ‘relevancy’ is – brands chattering away
    about Wimbledon, Miley Cyrus or the price of a pint of milk when it
    actually has nothing to do with what they do and isn’t in line with
    any of their objectives (if they have clear objectives, but we’ll
    come to that in a minute)
  • Lack of creativity and innovation – this is linked with the previous point and includes ripping off other brands’ ideas and conversation starters, re-skinning or reposting popular memes and articles and just generally being lame and purposeless Anonymous’ answer was that technical aspects such as the change in Facebook’s algorithm will make being fluffy and useless in social media harder to get away with and this is a good point – but the ideal solution was missing from this article.

The ideal solution? Be more strategic, of course.

If you want to get the most out of social and stop being fluffy you need to be clear about what your brand is all about, what exactly you want to say, and what you want your audiences to say about you.

You need to be clear about what you want to achieve – what exactly are your objectives and how will they be measured? In other words, what is the point of your brand being in social media?

You need to avoid the temptation to pluck things out of the air to talk about, and think carefully about how your activity can build your reputation and how you are perceived.

You need to get the right people to manage your social media accounts and your community. Are they thinking about what they do and how what they do affects the bigger picture?

You need to align your social strategy with your wider content strategy – and all your other comms strategies. What’s happening above the line? In PR? In CRM? How can social support the messages and join up your campaigns?

The above probably involves getting serious about overall digital and content strategy, and getting your agencies to talk to each other as well, but the benefits will be enormous.

And no one will ever call your social media fluffy ever again.

By Kate Bordwell, Head of Strategy