As social media sites continue their meteoric rise as the fastest growing online, the push for companies to adopt social technology increases as well. TDK’s Enterprise Social Technology Series outlines a path for incorporating social technology into enterprise business models. The series will consist of the following articles:

Social Technology Strategies and Tactics

Just as in Setting Social Technology Goals and Objectives we defined the difference between goals and objectives, we start our strategic and tactical planning phase by defining the difference between strategy and tactics. This is not an exercise in mere semantics either. Understanding the difference and separating strategies from tactics can be critical to the success of any marketing campaign, especially over the long run.

Strategies are a broad look at how a company will achieve its objectives. They are ideas, principles, concepts which will govern the specific actions which will be carried out in pursuit of the objective. They do not consist of action plans themselves, nor do they take into consideration the specific details which are necessary in crafting such action plans, such as what the latest technological trends are. Because of their broad nature, strategies are more likely to remain effective over the long run, even in rapidly changing technological environments.

Tactics are actions that support strategies. Tactical plans are therefore action plans. Unlike strategies they are very detailed plans which must take into account the specifics of a tactical environment. Social technology is a rapidly evolving environment, therefore tactical plans will be in constant flux keeping up with the latest trends. However, a carefully crafted strategic plan will keep even rapidly evolving tactical plans moving a company in the right direction: in pursuit of its goals and objectives which ultimately support the vision and mission of the company.

Due to the rapidly evolving nature of social technology, a strategic plan for social technology must be carefully crafted. Although providing an example of a strategic plan to support all of a company’s objectives is well beyond the scope of this document, we can certainly give an example for one objective. This will give insight into the process that can be carried out for all of a company’s objectives.

For example, the first objective in Setting Social Technology Goals and Objectives was to increase sales, which is intended to support the first goal of increasing market share. Strategies to support this objective might look like the following:

  • Position the company as a market leader by using social technology to promote thought leadership and brand building.
  • Reinvent the company by using social technology to introduce to the marketplace new reasons to do business with company.
  • Surround and support the marketing and sales pipelines with social technology.

No matter how the social technology trends evolve, these strategies are likely to be successful. This is one way to test whether your strategies are truly “strategic” as opposed to “tactical”.

Tactical plans in rapidly changing technological environments must react to these changes. Actions that involve the use of technology to achieve objectives are clearly going to be in flux. Consider the example of the strategy to position a company as a market leader using social technology by promoting thought leadership and brand building. A tactical plan to support that strategy might look like this:

  • Listening: monitoring thought leadership trends and brand mentions on twitter, facebook and relevant niche communities.
  • Participation: contributing to and guiding discussions of thought leadership and a company’s brand on twitter, facebook and relevant niche communities.
  • Content Creation: creating thought leadership and brand building content which is geared towards going viral on twitter, facebook and relevant niche communities.
  • Buzz Generation: promoting the content on twitter, facebook, relevant niche communities, and also the most popular and trending social bookmarking services.

These are very specific tactics that can be carried out to support the strategy and achieve the objective. However, what happens when the environment changes? Your tactics may need to change, but the strategy remains the same. What if Google introduces a new social layer that starts challenging or even overtaking facebook or twitter (which seems to be something they’re actively working on given the latest changes to google profiles)? What happens if one of your niche communities becomes stale or a new community starts trending upward? Social bookmarking service trends are constantly changing, are you focusing your limited resources on the right ones? Of course your tactics will be tracking these changes, which is why having strategies that stand the test of time guiding these tactics is critical to the long term success of a social technology campaign.

One should be able to apply the concepts above towards crafting strategic and tactical plans to support each and every one of the company’s objectives. Once the plans are implemented you will need to establish and track key performance indicators (KPIs) in order to gauge your success. Check out our article on Social Technology Key Performance Indicators for insight into this process.

"An IT pro who'll take the time to learn my business. Is that too much to ask?"