Don’t Let Shiny Objects Trump Strategy

Posted by: in Social Media Insights & Trends on August 16, 2009

We all love to talk about the latest tool, site or platform.  With friends, it’s fun to ask if you like Xobni or TweetDeck or if you’ve heard about what Mahalo is capable of doing or if you saw the news that Facebook 3.0 was submitted for use on the iPhone today. Inside companies, we often default to “hey, you should be on Twitter..or Facebook or use xyz”.    It’s easy to fall into the shiny object trap.

What I’m not hearing enough are questions related to strategy.  Perhaps this is to  be expected.  To think strategically, you have to have a command of the marketplace.  You need to be fluent in it’s dynamics.  And you need to be up to speed on the tools at your disposal.  You can’t have a surface knowledge of the change transforming the market and make intelligent decisions on where to make the most impact for your company or brand.

When you study the marketplace continually, you realize things like:

Consumers learning habits are changing as video becomes more dominant. Maybe our approach to creating content should evolve.

Facebook has 7x the audience of Twitter, but Twitter can often drive news more effectively, since Twitter is wide open and Facebook is still largely a closed system where you impact your friends more than the world.  Maybe more news cycles will continue to come out of Twitter.

15 of the top 23 online countries are not in North America or Europe. What are the differences in conversations, purchase habits, search and more?

Dissatisfaction is often a big driver of a company’s reputation before they start participating online. What is my brand’s reputation really like?

The larger topics of interest to a company are often 20-40x higher in volume than search results for the actual brand. Do I really know where the conversations are that matter the most?

And the biggest observation… that the more you learn, the more you realize we are all just beginning the process of figuring out what is possible online….

So the next time someone suggests you use a shiny tool or participate in a new site, ask them to share their strategy.

To keep it simple, here is a way to LEARN with your colleagues:

Location — where are your customers online today? – for example, you may find that community forums are most active for your brand, yet it is being recommended that you focus on blogs?  Or your customers are largely B2B, so you should be looking at private B2B communities.

Evidence — what do your customers actually need? – if you listen to their conversations, you will find evidence of what they actually want. For example, if there is a strong need for customer support, you aren’t going to have credibility in the market until you address the underlying dissatisfaction.

Accomplishment — what do you want to accomplish? – do you want to expand news flow or improve customer service or generate ideas to build better products and services?  Each goal may lead to a very different approach, often a combination of activities.

Reach – are you reaching the right people and how do you know?

Normalize – if what you are doing is working, identify why and normalize this behavior, so it becomes part of your organization’s DNA.

Those are a few thoughts on strategy. Now back to talking about shiny objects with my friends for the rest of the weekend. J

All the best, Bob

By: Bob Pearson

Bob is the President of W2O Group, an independent network of digital communications and marketing companies. He is an author, frequent speaker and instructor for Rutgers center for management development. After the success of his book Pre-Commerce, Bob is currently working on a new book on the future of media titled Storytizing that will be available in 2014. Prior to W2O Group, Bob worked as VP of Communities and Conversations at Dell to develop the Fortune 500’s first global social media function -- an industry-leading approach to the use of social media, as highlighted in the best seller, GroundSwell. Before Dell, Bob was Head of Global Corporate Communications and Head of Global Pharma Communications at Novartis Pharmaceuticals in Basel, Switzerland, where he served on the Pharma Executive Committee. He also serves on a variety of Boards in health and technology. Highlights include serving as an original member of the P&G digital advisory board and being appointed by the Governor of Texas to serve as chair and vice chair of the emerging technology fund for the State of Texas.

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One Response

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  1. Wonderful overview of where we should be looking when we face the future of the internet. Shiny is fun but brief. It’s like chasing a will-o’-the-wisp. A fundamental strategy based on customer’s wants and needs not only is more effective in the long run, but cuts time to market as you’ll be able to gauge a new bauble’s appropriateness for your business.
    Glad you’re keeping us focused on the things that matter.

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