“See the forest for the trees” is a saying that means getting caught up in the details and failing to understand the bigger picture. With all the new social media channels vying for our attention these days it is easy to get bogged down by all the particulars and immediate demands. Yet being able to discern the overall pattern or vision from the minutia of specific social media options and tactics is a valuable skill. Strategy – taking a broad, long-range approach and thinking systemically – is a very valuable skill. A 30,000 foot view, not a 3 foot perspective is what is needed to plan and marshal organizational resources to meet and exceed business goals.
How valuable is strategic thinking? A global study of over 60,000 managers asked them to access over 20 leadership practices (such as innovation, persuasion, communication, results orientation) and 20 measures of effectiveness (such as future potential, credibility, business aptitude, people skills). “Having a strategic approach” was seen as 10 times more important to effectiveness than other leadership behaviors and nearly 50 times more important than tactical behaviors. Another study asked 10,000 senior executives to select the leadership behaviors most critical to organizations success. “Strategic” was chosen 97% of the time.
Most people may agree that strategy is very important yet thinking strategically is not easy. Strategic thinking is especially hard when immediate demands are often rewarded over long-term vision and planning. Yet seeing the forest for the trees is a leadership quality necessity for social media success. When faced with 800+ social media sites, apps and services – a lot of trees – being able to focus on a long-term approach is the only way to see the path to reach your ultimate business or organizational goals.
Many marketers, advertisers, public relation professionals and entrepreneurs are jumping into the social media race, but they must be in it for the long haul to see real, lasting results. They must take the time to take a step back and see the big picture through a strategic social media plan. Trying to apply old marketing control strategies in this new consumer controlled social media environment does not work. Social media marketing is a different game with different rules.
Sure, there are plenty of tips. A Google search of “social media marketing tips” returns 135 million results. But very few tell you to do the same things and what worked for one business will not exactly work for others. For marketers and advertisers to succeed at social media integration, they must first start in a place rooted in their distinct situation and drive a strategy of choosing social platforms and creating content based on their business objectives, marketing strategy and target audience. This can be accomplished by following a 5-step process:
- Define current business and social media situation
- Create a big idea and plan integration
- Selection social media channels
- Integrate non-marketing social media activity
- Finalize social media plan and sell
That is what I have detailed in my new book Social Media Strategy: Marketing and Advertising in the Consumer Revolution. It is a roll up your sleeves roadmap to sound social media strategy that draws from the best in academic research and professional business practice. An approachable text to teach my social media marketing students, it lays out a method that cuts through the hype and sets a strategic mindset to take advantage of the exciting opportunities of social media. This text provides the context, process and tools needed to create a comprehensive and unique social media marketing solution.
Are you having trouble seeing past the trees of social media channels and tactics? Perhaps you need to take a step back along with my students and invest some time into getting above the forest and plan a path for long-term strategic success. Do you see the value in strategic thinking? How can you take the time to make it happen?