It’s 2010, and you’ve heard that this is the year of “social media ROI” right? This is not necessarily true for you and me. Somewhere somebody may have dropped the ball and let you down. If you feel like social media has been a waste of time for your business, it very well may be.  It’s still early in the year, so I want to talk about this now and not as a FAIL in a year-end “what we learned in 2010” post.

I’m talking about STRATEGY. It’s an overused and misunderstood word in business more than you’d think. In order to make any sense of social media though, you need to first understand how it fits into a larger game plan. Social media should be an integral and intentional piece of your overall business strategy. It shouldn’t exist as an independent and foreign entity unto itself.

“Strategy is distinct from tactics. In military terms, tactics is concerned with the conduct of an engagement while strategy is concerned with how different engagements are linked. In other words, how a battle is fought is a matter of tactics: the terms that it is fought on and whether it should be fought at all is a matter of strategy.” – Wikipedia

Without a comprehensive strategy, your isolated social media efforts and campaigns will yield no real return or measurable traction for your business. Whatever the size and scope of your social media efforts so far, it’s not too late to take a closer look at how it all plays into a larger business strategy.

Shannon Paul wrote an excellent article yesterday about the missing ingredient in social media strategies. To me, the post represented a necessary shift in the social media conversation. I’m thrilled to see that Shannon and others like her are engaging audiences with this topic.

It seems to be a widespread misconception that the tools and tactics of social media make up the whole story. We all need to be talking more about strategy, even if it means going all the way back to business 101. Social media can be a massive waste of time and resources otherwise.

“So much of the discussion around proving the ROI of social media seems to be about proving the business value of the tools. This entire argument is displaced.” – Shannon Paul

Take a whole bunch of time this week, heck, take the whole week, and get your social media efforts aligned with your strategy. Isn’t it your strategy that prompted your use of social channels in the first place? The presentation below from Jay Baer sets forth some clear points to consider, and I also really liked this social media strategy whitepaper (pdf).

So what do you think, does the talk of strategy excite you, or does it evoke confusion and point toward a void that needs filling? Leave me a comment; I’d really like to have a conversation about this today.

Key Photo: PrettySaro

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