You Don’t Need a Social Media Strategy — You Need a Content Strategy

We often have new or potential clients ask us to help them with their “strategy” for Twitter, Facebook or other “social media.”  But asking for a “Twitter strategy” is like an author asking for a “typewriter strategy” or a builder asking for a “hammer strategy.” Tools such as Twitter and Facebook are just that — tools.  And, without a content strategy, those tools don’t mean much.

I first started out in traditional public relations, where our main tools were a press release, a fax machine and the phone.  That generally transitioned into using email to pitch journalists.

Ten years ago, if a communications professional wanted to tell his/her organization’s story, he/she had to buy it (paid advertising or direct mail) or work it through earned media.

Today, the tools have multiplied.   We have email, blogs, social media, etc. that we can use to tell our stories. But while the media have changed, their success depends on one key ingredient:  content (message).

The first step is to take a inventory of your organization’s content.  What is all the content you produce (or could/should be producing) on a regular basis?  At first, you may not think it’s a lot — but digging a bit deeper may surprise you:

  • The obvious:  company announcements, press releases, marketing materials
  • Events:  any special events (either put on by your organization or related to your mission) that you can “live tweet”?
  • News of the day:  comment on news of the day that is relevant to your organization or your mission
  • Your experts:  who are your organization’s experts who can comment on your mission, recent news, or world events?
  • Human interest:  some of our clients’ best content has been about the CEO’s Grand Canyon hike, or birth announcements of employees … don’t overlook the stories of your employees that can put a human face on your company or organization.

The above are just a few examples.  But, again, the focus on the content.  How you choose to deliver and share that content is up to you — and it’s where social media tools come in to play.

Figure out your content strategy first — then decide which tools are best to help you accomplish that strategy.  For example:

  • Comcast has decided on a strategy of providing real-time, online customer service.  It uses Twitter (@comcastcares) to accomplish this goal.
  • Adventure Girl is a travel author whose strategy is to produce compelling news and stories about world travel.  She uses her Web site, her blog, and Twitter as tools to help build an audience and deliver that content.
  • Los Angeles-based Korean take-out restaurant Kogi BBQ‘s strategy is to create a loyal following of customers who follow their famous take-out truck wherever it goes.  They use Twitter is a tool to provide real-time updates on the location of their truck — and followers lineup to buy their food.

So, as your organization looks to delve into the world of social media, please take a step back, and look at your overall content strategy.

Because without this strategy, the social tools you use won’t make a difference.

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