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The word ‘strategy’ is so often misused. Just because something’s important (or new and shiny) doesn’t automatically follow that it needs a strategy.
The origin of strategy and tactics lie in military definitions. Strategy represents the overall approach, the direction that should be taken and/or the results that should be achieved. Strategy must identify the nature of the war at hand and then manage and direct it. Tactics then, are the manoeuvres to achieve the strategic objectives, such as a surprise attack or surrounding the enemy.
When applied to business, strategy is the approach you take to achieve long term objectives, based on an understanding of the organisation and its operating environment (internal and external). Strategy defines what the business aims to achieve.
Strategy begins with understanding where you are now and where you want to be; only once we know where ‘there’ is, can we work out the best route to success. It’s clear therefore, that strategy must precede planning.
A plan is the detailed set of short-term activities that encompass specific objectives and tactics that support the strategy. A plan is about outputs. A plan is about how you’re going to achieve the strategy.
Social media is NOT a strategy.
“A strategy is something like an innovative new product; globalization, taking your product around the world; be the low-cost producer. A strategy is something you can touch; you can motivate people with; be number one and number two in every business. You can energise people around the message.” Jack Welch, Former CEO, GE
A business may have a plan for how to use social media, but it does not have a ‘social media strategy’. I’m certain no business ever had a ‘fax strategy’ or ‘door drop strategy’, so why have we started to apply this term to everything?
An approach, an action, a goal, a tactic like social media– can however, be described as strategic, as they relate back to a business strategy, but they are not the strategy. They are the detail of the plan.
This is an extract from: Relax! It’s only social media. A no-nonsense guide to social networking for you and your business. Available now from Amazon.