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Strategy vs. Deliverables, Round 1 - Fight!

A real strategist understands market trends, online behavioral data, the nature of engagement, and most importantly, how all three of those are effectively fused together to align with a set of primary and secondary company objectives.
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Written by Robin Harris on

At first glance, the title of this post doesn't make any sense, right? What's with pitting them against each other? Aren't they both part of the same equation? Well, as most social media professionals know, social media is like the flower in Little Shop of Horrors, the more you feed it, the more demanding and hungrier it gets. If you throw a small to medium-sized team at your social campaigns and initiatives, in 6 months or less you'll feel the pressure to double your team if things are going according to plan.

In the haze of this rapid growth, the exponential demand that seems to energize itself like a car battery during use, the opportunity to get distracted by deliverables of a complex strategy, can creep up steadily and without remorse. Before long, you find yourself dizzied in a swarm of social media contests, campaigns and deliverables that can sometimes backfire on you and your team. This minutiae of project overload has a knack for stomping all over the well thought out objective-driven strategy that you had initially begun with. You know, that magical ingenius project that was guaranteed to titillate the heart-strings of the masses when you first put it together? Now you're a week away from launch, hoping that the minimal resources available to you can pull it off without melting your team's collective frontal cortex. It's tough to not get lost in the deliverables, inadvertently losing some sight of the importance of engagement during your campaign.

A great post written last month by Shannon Paul entitled, "Why We Still Need Real Social Media Strategists" covers what I'm talking about here plus a whole lot more. She says in her post...

"Whether anyone likes it or not, the deliverables in a social business are almost always a matter of fulfillment, not department. I mean this in the sense of the traditional departmental silos found in most companies inhibit the ability to work cross-functionally."

Every company needs functional departments. Every department needs a solid strategy that is aligned. A good strategist serves as the liaison or glue that helps keep the social activities of cross-functional teams on the same page, minimizing busy work, maximizing the impact across the social sphere. To Shannon's point, the cancer of the corporate silo can douse your social media fire before it has even started. A true strategist is key in helping that fire take off in a way so that it continues to spread, with all moving parts working together by feeding everyone the data they need to help drive their respective part of the business.

Calling Doctor Fine, Doctor Howard, Doctor Fine

The corporate social media strategist is an emerging role. Someone with a background in marketing, customer service, or public relations does not make them a good social strategist. Just because you can be dropped into a party full of strangers as the ultimate dynamic people person, it doesn't mean you are a social strategist. This role really requires someone with more of a psychology/research bend. They need to not just appreciate people and understand PR/marketing, more importantly they need to understand human behavior and it's affect on your business. The benefit of a really good strategist does not come from an ability to make everyone feel warm and fuzzy. A real strategist understands market trends, online behavioral data, the nature of engagement, and most importantly, how all three of those are effectively fused together to align with a set of primary and secondary company objectives.

Big business will always need good project managers, program managers and others to drive the project to completion, but as your success in social media grows, it's the strategists that help keep your company from, as one famed English philosopher put it, "going off the rails on a crazy train."

[chess piece image courtesy of Jacob Morgan Marketing]

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