What is a Social Media Strategy? (Plus Five Good Examples)

Here's my take.

A social media strategy is a designed experience that utilizes the technological and cultural shifts towards sharing online. This implies several important characteristics of social media strategies.

Emphasis on Design

To say that something is designed implies two important things: it's something that you build or create, and it's something that you plan. To say that something is poorly designed is essentially to say that it was either poorly planned or poorly built.

While participating in social media may involve conversations, "talk to your customers" is not a social media strategy. While it may create an experience, it is not a designed one -- it lacks the planning necessary to be compelling.

Likewise, "listen to your customers" is not a social media strategy either. It is not an experience at all, but rather the research phase which precedes the design.

Defining Experience

But the defining mark of these social media experiences, that unfortunately often overshadows the role of design-oriented thinking, is that they have something to do with social networks. Having a fan page, Twitter account, or YouTube channel are all too often substituted for a well-thought out approach to creating an experience.

Sure, people can interact with fan pages, Twitter accounts, and YouTube channels, but just because they can doesn't mean they will.

With that in mind, let's look at some social media strategies that successfully create experiences that users want to interact with.

  1. Burger King: Whopper Sacrifice
  2. IKEA: Facebook Photo Tagging Competition
  3. The Dark Knight: Why So Serious Campaign
  4. Comcast: Comcast Cares Twitter Account
  5. Vodafone: Madame Tresesti

While none of these are perfect, they are all examples of well-designed experiences. Whether it's the engrossing fictional narrative of The Dark Knight or the humorous approach of Whopper Sacrifice, each of these campaigns succeeded because they were carefully designed. From the big ideas down to the tiniest details, they were carefully crafted with the goals of the brand and the attitudes of the audience in mind.

Written by Chris Allison on April 12, 2010


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Chris Allison