5 Reasons Why Your Social Media Strategy Isn’t Really a Social Media Strategy

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As I consult with more clients on social media strategy, I am always amazed after I do a competitive analysis to find out that most American companies that I run across don’t seem like they know what they are doing on the likes of Facebook and Twitter.  I’m not talking about the big consumer brands like Starbucks and Coca Cola that have gathered lots of Facebook Fans and are truly engaging with their customers.  I’m talking about most B2B companies as well as those B2C brands that don’t necessarily fall into the Fortune 500.  According to Hubspot, 72% of businesses have a social media strategy.  Really?  Here’s 5 reasons why that might not be the case:

1) Is Your “Strategy” Too Broad?

A mentor that I respect from a previous company once told me that “A strategy is almost about deciding what not to do as it is what to do.”  If a business wants to get strategic about social media, you can’t be everywhere and do everything at once.  If your strategy dictates that you need to have a YouTube channel, host a Podcast, create a SlideShare channel, launch several Twitter accounts and multiple LinkedIn groups, and create a compelling Facebook Page on top of all of that, consider 1) what exactly your objective is and 2) where your target audience is.  From there, do some strategic analysis and you should figure out what things you don’t necessarily need to be doing.

2) Isn’t That Campaign Just a Tactic?

I’ll say it straight out: Social media is a commitment, not a campaign.  I met with a local business reporter who lamented about the fact that most brands that he covers approach social media, through their digital agencies or PR firms, as just another channel to launch a campaign on.  What happens after the campaign ends and the buzz on the Facebook Page or Twitter hashtag tweets continue?  Nothing.  The consumer is left hanging.  I do believe there is a role for campaigns as part of a social media strategy.  But campaigns are the means, not the end.  Start thinking long-term in your use of campaigns.  Please.

3) What are You Going to Tweet?

Let’s face it: Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter were made for people, not businesses.  In this scenario, what will your business share in social media?  It really comes down to the content of your conversations.  What will they be?  In other words, just launching a Facebook Page and importing the RSS feed of your blogs and press releases is not a strategy in itself.  It is a tactic.  And a poor one at that.  You need to have a content strategy, which often includes curation of 3rd party content, if you really want to engage with your potential customers and business partners in a meaningful way.  Sorry, but without a content strategy you really don’t have a social media strategy.

4) Is Social Media Just about Marketing?

If your business is only thinking about applying social media to marketing, you are not thinking about it in a strategic way.  Social media will overlap every part of your organization and needs to be thought of, in itself, strategically.  Take the case study of my experience with Virgin America: You can do a social media marketing campaign, but do your Customer Support people actually use Twitter?  What happens when other parts of your organization aren’t ready for your campaign?  And what happens when people start communicating with your Facebook Page outside of the scope of the organization that is in charge of running it?  You get the picture.

5) Does Your Business Blog?

A blog is the best way for your business to be sharing your unique and resourceful information with the public.  Every company, whether you are B2B or B2C, has endless amount of things to blog about.  If getting found on the Internet is part of a social media strategy, which it probably is, why don’t more companies blog?  There are many reasons why every business should have a blog, but I won’t bore you with them in this post.  Suffice to say, before thinking about utilizing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube, look in your own backyard and start crafting some stories that can be used as, yes, part of your content strategy!

Do YOU think 72% of businesses really have a social media strategy?

By the way, if you are interested at hearing me speak about the topic of social media strategy, please join me later this month in San Diego at LavaCon 2:0 The Conference on Digital Media and Content Strategies.

Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professionals strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer


Author, @MaxYourSocial | Founder @msocialbusiness & @socialtoolssmmt | Trilingual Social Media Strategy Consultant, Coach, and Speaker
LinkedIn Marketing: The All-in-One Guide to Scheduling and Writing the Best Updates http://t.co/B2vJXWyXpa via @B2Community - 5 hours ago
Neal Schaffer


  1. says

    Great post. I am surprised each day at the number of business people and companies that truly don’t understand how social media can enhance the relationship between them and their customers as well as influencers. So many still see it as a way to just push out their marketing information instead of as an avenue to truly transform their relationships.

  2. says

    Great post. You are spot on about understanding who your target market is and where they ‘hang out’ online and offline. I would add one more note in general regarding this topic. Anyone trying to implement social media needs to make sure they communicate in language that reflects normal conversation – not corporate jargon, or, as David Meerman Scott says, gobbledygook.

    Keep up the good work Neal.

  3. websuccess says

    @Neal, great article BTW. On this point “do your Customer Support people actually use Twitter?” I find that most businesses that take the time to promote on FB pages and Linkedin do not even look at their twitter streams to find out what their @replies are. This essential feedback is a good part of the marketing orchestra and is vastly ignored.

  4. Tony Karrer says

    I agree that 72% is way overstated. I hear about lots of tactics and experiments. I would think that having a solid strategy is challenging right now given our collective understanding of what works. That said, I wonder what percentage of companies have a blog or have a few key individuals blogging? Certainly well below 72% – which makes you wonder.

    • says

      Hey Tony, I totally agree with you here. All it takes is a little analysis on any given industry and you get the feeling that very few “average” companies are thinking strategically about social media.

  5. says

    I have a 12 step social media strategy – all longterm engagement stuff. And step 9 is campaigns – viral spiked activities, conversation diary to entertain and educate – then back to more longterm steps. You’d be amazed at how many people go straight to step 9 “we’ve got a Facebook and Twitter strategy”. Reeeeeealllly? :) Or maybe you wouldn’t be amazed 😉

  6. says

    Great article, Neal,

    There is no way that 72% have a strategy, at least not the folks I run into. I taught six classes this week and I did an informal poll with follow up questions and found that only about 10% even could really define a strategy let alone make the connection from strategy to tactic.I agree with you it is mostly about tactics.

    Most users especially “nonfacebook generation” people are still hoping this tool is a marketing and advertising technique and not about establishing a voice around an area of expertise.

  7. says

    Great Article, I don’t think 72% have a social media strategy. I don’t even think 72% are even doing campaigns. I think 72% are involved, but strategy is a totally different thing—backed by real measurables.

  8. Aubrey Zimmerman says

    Neal, I think you hit the nail on the head! My favorite line from your article is that “social media is a commitment, not a campaign.” It’s easy for outsiders to use social media as another tactic to reach consumers and feel the need to be “out there”– but with no plan in how we’re going to be “out there” how can we measure our effectiveness?… Without time and dedication to engaging and responding to our followers, social media is not be effective for any organization. Thanks for the article!

  9. Carol Arthur says


    What a great blog – so many excellent tips here. I completely agree with you that every business should have a blog – and that it should be your starting point for everything else. I certainly don’t think 72% of UK businesses have a social media strategy. Would love to hear of some B2B social media success stories.

  10. says

    Good article Neil. I understand what you are saying about social media being a commitment not a campaign but I think breaking it down in to campaigns is easier for many clients to understand and implement.I covered something similar in a recent blog post that focuses on the fact that many brands just ‘do’ social media activity but fail to plan the activity so it ‘fails’ to deliver – due to no way to measure success! [Link deleted by webmaster]

    • says

      Thanks for your comment Benn. I can understand that companies that utilize digital ad agencies may fall into the camp that you describe. That being said, even if you do “campaigns,” how do you define which ones you do? What are the guidelines for content, channels, branding, et. al.? My customers want an ROI to their marketing budget, and they understand that without strategy they will never be able to calculate the fruits of the labor vis a vis reaching their objectives in engaging in social media in the first place.

  11. Gigi Ramis says

    Neal, are there Social Media Experts that have reduced rates for Non-Profits in the Northern Suburbs of Chicago?

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