The most common reason for the failure of good strategy in social media is the failure of implementation.
Of course there is a lot of bad strategic thinking out there as well, but no strategy is better than its implementation.
The most common reasons for the failure of implementation are:
1. The failure to align brand goals, strategy, tactics and tasks with action;
2. The failure to align action plans with forecast costs and returns;
3. The failure to manage the process of implementation with a short interval focus on the metrics of financial ROI (the only type of ROI that is real).
Let’s talk about number 1.
Like it or not, the following words have specific meanings and are interrelated:
There is an incredible amount of ‘lore’ floating around in the ether on the subject of Social Media Strategy. Mention the words “strategic goal or strategy” and everyone falls prostrate before the God of intellect and sublime insight. Companies spend a fortune for advice on ‘strategy’. People who can allegedly ‘facilitate’ strategic thinking programs are managing $2,000-$5,000 a day in consulting fees. With no exception I am aware of, none of them will take responsibility for implementation and delivery of ROI. Tell me if you know of one who is 100% contingent billing (charging for delivery of results only). It’s so easy to say you can’t be held responsible for the quality of implementation.
What about the other words: Tactic, Task and Action? These words fall more to the action oriented among us…the people who cross the line between thinking and doing. How often is the task of implementation short changed, and pushed down to levels of management where $5,000 would pay the mortgage for 3-6 months?
Let’s face it, strategy is much more sexy than putting rubber on the road, and often the first step of implementation is totally assumed to have been undertaken by senior mangement.
The first step of implementation is to translate brand goals into tasks. Task is the precursor of action.
Take this simple example of a restaurant called the ‘Cheesecake Temple’:
• Lift share of the weeknight dinner market by 50% before end 2010;
• Become the preferred restaurant of patrons eating in company of children;
• Target customers of competitors, ‘Trixies’ and ‘Rainbow Cave’ in Twitter and Facebook;
• Text discounts and promos to clients;
• Provide kids web based games at tables;
• Use Foursquare to reward frequent use;
• Giveaway hosted birthday & play credits via FB wall.
For the tactic: “Target customers of competitors, ‘Trixies’ and ‘Rainbow Cave’ in Twitter and Facebook”:
- Offer promos to their followers in Twitter and fans on Facebook;
- Search negative mentions of Trixies and Rainbow Cave in real time, 24/7;
- Create and use Standard Response Procedures (SRP). Position in company wiki;
- Create and use discount table to calculate discounts. Position in company wiki;
- Create and use daily available capacity charts. Position in company wiki.
Simplistic? Go to the groups who are supposedly implementing your newest social media strategy and ask each one to tell you what they are doing and how it connects to goals strategy and tactics. Get ready for the disconnects. My guess is they will be doing ten things that aren’t called for and only half the things you would want them to do. Ask them if they have any idea of the underlying cost versus benefit projection for the work they are doing. Love to hear how you go out there.
More detail? Sure, there is heck of a lot more detail, especially in moving from task to action or project planning. But you don’t have to go much further than this to highlight where most social media programs fail to deliver the goods, and why most programs managers think (albeit very socially unacceptable for them to rubbish ROI in public) measuring ROI is difficult and a waste of time.