Is Social Media A Strategy or A Tactic?


  • In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell. – Jack Welch 

Strategy freenetwork
As BBF B.L. Ochman recently reminded me, social media has been around, and included in varying degrees (!), as a business initiative for the past ten years. Although most marketers agree social media is not a fad there is still a debate on what is social media. Is social media a strategy or is social media a tactic?

Just One Crowd Sourced Question

I was curious to understand what and why marketers thought on this issue and thought it would be a great question for Diva Marketing's sometimes series: Just One Crowd Sourced Question.

I reached out to people within social networks and invited them to reach out to their networks and answer .. just one question. It's a quick turn around .. a few days to respond. The goal, of course, is to bring you diverse opinions so we can learn together. 

Let's frame the question with a high level overview of strategy and tactics. The following is from Euromed Marseille School of Management, World Med MBA Program - Information Systems and Strategy Course

"Strategy and tactics are about means and ends: they bridge the gap between our vision of the future and our day to day decisions. Both strategy and tactics are about deciding the means by which a goal is reached. Ultimately the goal of strategy as a concept is to find a rigorous and systematic way of making these decisions."

Or put another way .. strategy is identifying which song to sing and tactics are identifying how to sing it. Then sing it out loud and strong! 

Crowd sourceOut of the 17 responses received, most people felt that social media was both a strategy and a tactic.

It was interesting that several marketers considered social media to be neither. They came up with their own creative descriptives ranging from "a corporate culture and state of mind to a platform and communications tools."

 Is Social Media A Strategy or Is Social Media A Tactic?

Social Media Is A Strategy

1. Social media is a strategy for communicating and engaging in/expanding dialogue with your brand's consumers/advocates/constituents. Sure, it's one tactic for broadcast marketing messages, but successful use of social media includes using it as a customer service, just as much as a marketing, tool.

Developing a strategy prior to implementing social media ensures that your company has the resources/manpower to keep it running; that you have the tools in place to measure its value; that you'll know what to do with it with a crisis strikes; and that you get the bang for your buck integrating cross-departmental use (customer service department, communications department, user experience, operations, etc.). - Laura Bellinger @madamebelle

2. Utilizing social media is a strategy. Tactics are how you accomplish the goal. Interestingly the idiom for strategy is "tools of the trade". - JoAnn Hines Packaging Diva

3. Because it helps to get your name/product out in the world by a host of different means. - AmyJo

Social Media Is A Tactic

1. While you can have a strategy for your social media program, it is a tactic within your overall marketing tool kit. It should be one element of a complete business/marketing strategy that aligns with business goals and objectives. - Katharine McMahon @marketingbykat

2. I think it is more of a Tactic than a strategy. A strategy is what you need to do to implement your goal(s). The tactics are the How's. Moreover, I believe that Social Media is more of a connector - it's the glue that links the offline and the online efforts of your marketing campaigns, it connects you to your fans, would-be fans, competitors and general public. That is built-in market research right there. - Sue Duris President M4 Communications, Inc. 

3. Like other forms of 'marketing' or engaging with your customer, social media exists to bring you face-to-face, either in real time or virtually. The strategy of your business needs to be finding the best ways to serve your customers - the tactic is in using social media, among other tools, to achieve that goal. - Yvonne DiVita, Lip-sticking 

Social Media Is Both A Strategy And A Tactic

1. SM is a great tool (tactic) to achieve and meet goals, but it truly needs a strategy to be successful. Without the strategy, how do you know if the tool is working? - Rachel Simon @raksimon

2. Offense is strategic, Defense is tactical. I see the world of social as offense versus defense. Tactically, I see the defensive positioning of responding to comments about your brand. Strategically, I see the opportunity to remain in an offensive position - pushing social campaigns and predicting results so you can stage the next campaign (think business process flows for social campaigns). - David Favero @mdavidfavero

3. Social media needs to be addressed as part of every marketing strategy. With a coherent, cohesive strategy in hand, a tactical plan to execute social media is the next step. Hard to have any effective execution without connecting the dots to a strategy that advances the business case. - Nancy Chorpenning CSuiteAdvisors @CSuiteAdvisors

4. For most brands it is mainly a tactic that needs to be integrated into a larger marketing plans BUT, several smaller businesses are utilizing it as a full-blown strategy because of the cost barrier being perceived as being low.- Anon

5. Social is breaking down the walls in the market allowing buyers to engage in a collaborative buying process in peer to peer networks for decision support. Buyers are building a strategic business case to justify their recommended approach to solving business problems while building consensus to the decision with their teams.

If we are buyer-centric in our commitment to helping our buyers make better decisions then we need to find where strategic and tactical intersect. Tactical engagement in support of strategic relationships for business impact. – Judy Mod @JudyMod @SocialCouncil

6. Mmm.that's challenging because a Strategy (in marketing parlance) really should be an idea of how to execute a "nuke the enemy to achieve world dominance." And the tactic would be the tools you use to do this. So technically Social Media is a tactic, but surely there is some way to define social media as a strategy? Am I waffling here? – Anon

7. Social media may be a strategic marketing approach. The actual way you use SM is tactical.A marketing strategy might be to use SM to launch a new product. Actually posting your campaign on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. is a tactical exercise. - Maggie Buerger @getfamousfast

Neither A Strategy Nor A Tactic

1. Corporate culture, state of mind. For social media to be effective for a brand, it requires both the brand and its constituents to be willing to connect and engage. A brand that uses the tools just to promote misses the point of social.

On the flipside, brands that are willing to tell its story, listen to feedback, make the necessary changes AND defend certain key aspects of their 'personality' will eventually build trust and collaboration with their constituents which is the ultimate goal for any brand. - Jacqui Chew

2. Social media is a platform to communicate from one to many. Social media can be qualified as a medium for strategy or a tactic supporting a strategy if there is an objective for the platform. Without the two it is simply a Techology for publishing or consuming information. Peter Fasano @pfasano

3. Social media is a set of communication tools. Social media - media in which conversations can take place - is a set of tools in the communications toolbox. – Anon

4. It's a supporting arm of your marketing and communications goals. Not a strategy alone, but a strategic element that is comprised of many tactics. - Anon

Toss of a pink boa to everyone who shared their thoughtful insights!

My thanks to  Candace McCaffery for her post that inspired this Just One Question post.

Here's my comment on her post (add me to the Both list):

I believe that social media demands a strategy of its own .. not unlike pr or marketing or customer care or (fill in the blank).

Assuming that social media touches all aspects of an organization, it's critical develoip an over arching direction that integrates with all BU/departments/employees who are impacted by its intrusion (I use intrusion not as a negative). Without that high level focus how can the brand promise or values be consistently represented internally and externally? How can we use social media to support business goals and objectives? How can we incorporate it into campaigns and use it as a digital conversation tool that becomes an asset unto itself?

Social media has evolved into more than just a channel, communication outreach or customer service vehicle. I would suggest that the "tools" of social media e.g. social networks, blogs, podcasts, blogger relations, etc. are the tactics under the umbrella of social media strategy.

Social media has evolved to command the same respect as other marketing/communication disciplines to be consider a 'strategy."

Update: Thanks Damica Kombol for your contribution.

What are your thoughts? Do you consider social media to be a strategy, a tactic, both or something else?

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Grapic credi: tungphoto /

Big Brand Customer Intimacy Without Brand Conversations


Brand-alphabet  In a recent eMail volley with twenty-something Jason Stershic, Spectyr Media, Jason posed an interesting question - 

  • "How do you humanize Coke, Pepsi ESPN? I follow them but I don't expect a human connection, is that part for the course for most users following corporations?" 

My views about social media are fairly traditional, if you can use that word for a strategy that is nano seconds old. I believe the value of social media occurs when the people behind the brand step out from the brand shadows and actively listen (active listening is a 2-way communication!) to their customers and other stakeholders. The result is what has become a social media cliche - people-to-people relationships versus a relationship with an inanimate object or brand. 

Over the past six years I've talked to thousands of people about social media. I'm always curious to understand - What does social media mean to you? For the most part, people told me social media is ... as Tim Jackson said, "Connecting with people" or as Connie Reece put it, " It's all about the relationship."

However, when it comes to Big Brands Jason doesn't expect a "human connection." I wonder .. can a Big Brand create customer intimacy with millions by using the tools of the social media world? 

When Richard Binhammer or Lionel Menchaca - Dell or Frank Eliason - past Comcast now Citi or Tony Hsieh respond to @tweets or comment on blog posts it's a 1:1 interaction. Since they communicate in the digital public square their conversations are overheard by thousands if not by millions. By default that opens the communication to whomever is listening in. 

Perhaps those people RT (retweet) or add a status up to their Facebook page or write blog posts or even take it offline at office water cooler conversations. Through people who were not involved in the initial discussions the perception of the brand's humanity is expanded. Without that initial direct to brand customer conversation, can a brand still create customer intimacy through social media?  

Duncan Wardel, vice president Disney, agrees that social media provides new avenues to create dialog with consumers. However, he also has another view of how brands will use social media. He told me that he sees one of the biggest trends is - 

  • ".. allowing consumers to talk with one another .. establishing a platform to really allow your brand evangalists to reach out to other people that you won't be able to reach .. as consumers have an inceasing ability to screen out brands they no longer consider relevant." Video

What do you think? Does a Facebook page or a peer-to-peer crowd sourced campaign, supported by a brand, but with little or no brand engagement, help to create the humanity of the brand? Do you expect to have direct conversations with the people from brands you follow? Can only peer-to-peer interactions create raving fans?

What Does Social Media Mean To You? With Suzie Reider


What Does Social Media Mean To You? is a continuing video series of Little Sound Bites of thoughts and insights. Perhaps you'll be on the little Flip video next time we meet!

Suzie Reider, Director Advertising and Sales at YouTube, was the guest speaker at this month's AiMA event. Suzie spoke to a packed house about the lessons she's learned at her time with one of the world's largest social - media communities. From YouTube's point of view .. it is a combination of "social" and "media."  By the way, did you know if YouTube were a country it would rank #4 in population?  #1- China, #2- India, #3- USA, #4-YouTube.

For marketers, Suzie's wrap up comment about social media said it all  -

This is the world we are living in and this is where the people are. - Suzie Reider

A few lessons learned:

  • Viral videos need to be short
  • As a marketer you should have a strategy in-place if your video catches fire and goes viral.
  • What matters is not what the video does/is but what (other) people do with it .. or in response to it. Were other videos made based on yours?
  • Be aware of what is occurring so you can respond appropriately .. engaging with not on the defense.
  • For marketers .. a YouTube video should be creative advertising that works as "content."
  • It's all about the dialog
  • Ideas come from everywhere. "Consumers are creating your commercials. It's part of this brave new world we live in."
  • Have a thick skin ... be prepared for come back. When users take the content - or the concept - you never know what will happen.
  • Mobile is Massive.

Suzie Reider, Director Advertising and Sales at YouTube.

Sound Bite .. Social Media is .. 

Connecting in real time.

What Does Social Media Mean To You? With BL Ochman, Duncan Wandle & Michale Pranikoff


What Does Social Media Mean To You? is a continuing video series of Little Sound Bites of thoughts and insights. Perhaps you'll be on the little Flip video next time we meet!

Today's post of little Flip social media marketing moments are complements of three PR professionals:  BL Ochman - whatsnextonline Founder,  Duncan Wandle - Disney Sr. Vice President Global PR and Michale Pranikoff - PR Newswire Director of Emerging Media. Although their definitions differ they all come back to the Big C & P Words .. Communication and People.

B.L. Ochman,

Sound Bite

Completely new avenue of getting all of the elements of communication together.
A new way of meeting people.

Sidebar: B.L. has the best laugh. If you watch it for nothing else this is sure to make you smile too!

Duncan Wandle Disney

Sound Bite

Creating dialog with consumers.
Not talking directly at consumers.
Biggest future trend will be companies building platforms that allow (and encourage) consumers to talk with one another

Michael Pranikoff, PR Newswire Michael's page

Sound Bite

All about engagement.
Connecting with people anywhere in the world who have the same interests


What Does Social Media Mean To You? With Tim Jackson - Masiguy


What Does Social Media Mean To You? is a continuing video series of Little Sound Bites of thoughts and insights. Perhaps you'll be on the little Flip video next time we meet!

This post is in honor of Tim Jackson who is recouping from a very serious bicycle accident. Tim hope when you hop back into the virtual world this brings a smile. It with pleasure that I  present to you the Masiguy's views on social media.

Tim Jackson, Masiguy, is the Brand Manager for Masi Bicycles

Sound Bite Social Media means to me ..
All about the relationship
Extending the brand forward
Connecting with people

What Does Social Media Mean To You? With Connie Reece, Luc Debaisieux, Gavin Heaton and Drew McLellan


What Does Social Media Mean To You? is a continuing video series of Little Sound Bites of thoughts and  insights. Perhaps you'll be on the little Flip video next time we meet!

Today's tapa-bits are complements of four people, from Texas, Belgium, Australia and Iowa, who came together to celebrate a global community of friendships with 80+ others at Blogger Social.

Connie Reece Every Dot Connects and Twitter Diva is the Principal at Reece & Company.

Sound Bite Social Media is ...
The media is the tools and technology that allows everyone to be a publisher.
The social part is it's all about the relationships.

Luc Debaisieux, Mind Blob, is Head of TV for JWT Group Belgium.
Luc's finger puppet metaphor explanation of social media is a must see.
Sorry for the lighting.

Sound Bite Social Media is ..
Listening to each other where ever we are and connecting to each other.
Just humans talking to each other.

Gavin Heaton, Servant of Chaos, came from down under, Australia, to see "the friends I never met." Gavin is the Education Business Development Manager at SAP America Inc.

Sound Bite Social Media is ..

Social media is all about people. I have a lot of friends who I never met. When we come together face-to-face we don't need to worry about if we're going to get along, we know we are and it's beautiful.

Captain Drew McLellan, Drew's Marketing Minute, is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group.


Sound Bite Social Media is ..
To really engage and get to know people on an individual level.
Social media is a tool for all of us to connect.


What Does Social Media Mean To You? With Jay Berkowitz, Kasia Szewcyk, Scott Milinder, Dana VanDen Heuvel


What Does Social Media Mean To You? is a continuing video series of Little Sound Bites of thought, insight and fun. Perhaps you'll be on the little Flip video next time we meet!

Thoughts from a few of the people who attended the American Marketing Association's Hot Topic Workshop on Social Media Marketing in Miami this month. For Dana and Jay, who have clocked several years in the space, it's an evolution of customer communication and an opportunity to have it your way. For Kasia and Scott who are taking their first entree into social media, it is a new environment where they can interact, sort of hang out with customers and prospects .

Jay Berkowitz - Ten Golden Rues. Catch Jay's podcast series.

Sound Bite - Social Media Is ..
The evolution of new ways to connect with people and really build relationships.
The evolution from the old chat groups all the way through podcasts and videos. Im lovin' it!

Kasia Szewczyk Kelly Services

Sound Bites - Social Media is ..
We know we need to connect with our audience on a different level.
We're looking to connect to them where theyre spending their time. 
Traditional media has rising costs and diminishing returns.

Scott Milinder, Progressus Therapy

Sound Bites - Social Media is ..
We're a company that is all about people. We have to find new and innovative ways to get people connected.

Dana VanDen Heuvel VanDen Heuvel Executives
Sidebar: Dana was one of the workshop instructors.

Sound Bites - Social Media is ..
It's an evolution. It gives people flexibility on how they connect with their world.
You can have your world, your content, your messages on your terms.
Content, media and life on your terms only digitally.

View More What Does Social Media Mean To You Interviews
Kevin Nalts, Peter Kim, David Berkowitz
Debby Ruth
Josh Hallett, Julie Squires, Chris Thornton
Dave Williams

What Does Social Media Mean To You? With Dave Williams


What Does Social Media Mean To You? is a continuing video series of Little Sound Bites of thought, insight and fun. Perhaps you'll be on the little Flip video next time we meet! Update: Video removed by request of Dave.

Dave Williams, Chief Strategist/Co-founder 360i not only shared his thoughts about social media but provided insights into how Opera , the #1 night club and events venue in Atlanta, is leveraging social networking communities to reach the youth market. Well worth a listen.

Sound Bite - Social Media Is ..

  • It reminds me of the web back in 1997 .. the valuations, the interest in the space, investors that express a lot of interest in the space. It's still the wild west. I don't think anyone really knows what's next.
  • Facebook is the next generation of where the new consumer, the younger generation is. Also I see it as a rapidly developing market for the older generation.
  • (Facebook)Opportunities are very compelling from a marketing perspective: event postings, developing priority applications to distribute content and information.
  • Most of My Space pages are similar to website pages in 1998. Like having a flaming logo on a page.
  • (Our) Interns don't use My Space they only use Facebook.

Opera Promotional Strategies
Results: Over 1200 customers on Friday and Saturday nights.

  • Developed proprietary widget that distributes content about new DJs
  • My Space and Facebook pages
  • Text messages
  • Emails - data base of 25k
  • Upload videos and photos to site
  • MySpace and Facebook messaging

View More What Does Social Media Mean To You Interviews
Kevin Nalts, Peter Kim, David Berkowitz
Debby Ruth
Josh Hallett, Julie Squires, Chris Thornton

What Does Social Media Mean To You? With Josh Hallett, Julie Squires, Chris Thornton


What Does Social Media Mean To You? is a continuing video series of Little Sound Bites of thought, insight and fun. Perhaps you'll be on the little Flip video next time we meet!

For Josh, Julie and Chris  .. it's about people, it's a strategy and it's sharing ideas.

Josh Hallett - Hyku Blog New Media Specialist,  Voce Communication

Sound Bite - Social Media Is ..
A different channel of communication.
People want to be treated like humans.
It's just people talking to  people ; and if you can't have a handle on that than you probably shouldn't be in business in the first place.

Julie Squires - First Light Blog CFO, Softscribe

Sound Bite - Social Media Is ..
As a marketer it meant total confusion.
As a mother it meant how do I protect my children.
But now because our public relations clients need it, it means a way to become more individual .. it has to be in-line with your strategic objective

Chris Thornton - Chief Marketing Officer Definition 6

Sound Bite - Social Media Is ..
People willing to share ideas with each other that's more personal, more relevant and less planned. More open which makes it a lot more honest at the end of the day.

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Kevin Nalts, Peter Kim, David Berkowitz
Debby Ruth 

What Does Social Media Mean To You? With Kevin Nalts, Peter Kim & David Berkowitz


What Does Social Media Mean To You? is a continuing video series. Perhaps you'll be on the little Flip video next time we meet!

Question: What do a video guy, a researcher and a guy who works in the SEO biz have in common when in comes to their thoughts about social media? Connecting. Connecting. Connecting. It was the over riding concept in the following videos. Enjoy!

Kevin Nalt - Will Video For Food /YouTube Director & Producer Hire Nalts

Sound Bite - Social Media Is ..
A break down in geography and the ability to connect in a rich media with  people of similar interests, values, beliefs and humor

Peter Kim Being Peter / Senior Analyst Forrester Research


Sound Bite - Social Media Is ..
A great way to build relationships and cement them in the face-to-face world.

David Berkowitz Marketers Studio /Director of Emerging Media 360i

Sound Bite - Social Media Is ..
Changing how people expect to interact with any type of content.

More What Does Social Media Me To You Interviews

Debby Ruth, VP Communications Cox Enterprises