Tactics versus Strategy

By Yvette Pistorio

I read an interesting article this past weekend on MITSloan Management Review by Gerald Kane, and can’t get it out of my head.

It was about how undergraduate students have a strong procedural understanding of social media tools, whereas graduate students have a stronger strategic understanding.

I’ll admit it – that’s how it was for me.

When I first started working in social media marketing, I learned how to use all the tools and features, as well as how to create content for separate audiences.

The only metrics I paid attention to were how many fans and followers my company had. I didn’t have any goals, so wasn’t even sure what to measure. I just went with it.

Tactics Versus Strategy

I saw this quote by Sun Tzu in a Vocus blog post and liked it’s meaning, “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

The problem is, people come up with “social media strategies” that end up being, typically, a bunch of marketing tactics. Thinking back, my social media strategies were just that: A bunch of tactics, but there wasn’t really an answer to why we were using that particular one.

So what’s the difference? Think of tactics as actions. They are the things you do to execute your strategy.

Things to Consider Before Deploying Tactics

Liana Evans, contributor to Search Engine Watch, shares a few things to consider before you deploy social media marketing tactics.

Answer the “Why”

Like many of you, I couldn’t answer the why when I first started in social media. I just read all of the “How To” articles I could find – how to use {insert social network here} for business – and went from there. I didn’t consider why I was using it for MY organization until much later.

All strategies need to answer the ‘why’ question. Whether for brand awareness, customer service, or something entirely different, once you have answer the ‘why,’ you have a goal and can measure it. Which brings me to my next point.

Define and Measure Goals

If you don’t have a set of goals to measure, how do you know if you are successful? A lot of people struggle with what to measure when it comes to social media – myself included. And the answer is, I hate to say it, it depends.” Your goal will help you determine what you measure.

For example, clients like to see the number of Twitter followers increase. Higher numbers are great, but isn’t it better to have 100 engaged followers than 1,000 who ignore you? You should be measuring not only the followers, but also retweets, clicks, and mentions. Mentions help us find new people to follow and start engaging with as well. A win-win.

When to Reevaluate

Don’t get into the mind frame of  “We’re doing it this way because that’s what the budget allows.” If something isn’t working or you aren’t meeting your goals, it’s time to reevaluate.

When you create a strategy, set hard dates for reevaluation. Even if what you’re doing is working, there’s always room for improvement – especially at the rate technology changes.

As Joel Falconer, a contributor to Lifehack, said, “Every tactic must suit the strategy. If you can’t explain how a tactic helps you achieve the strategic outcome, then it’s probably not the best choice and needs to be rethought.”

Keep in mind, Twitter and Facebook are still young and new networks pop up all the time, so who knows what lies ahead? It’s easy to learn knew tools. But it’s even more important to understand how these tools can help you achieve your organization’s goals and objectives.

How often do you reevaluate your marketing strategy?

Yvette Pistorio

Yvette Pistorio is the shared media manager for Arment Dietrich. She is a lover of pop culture, cupcakes, and HGTV, and enjoys a good laugh. There are a gazillion ways you can find her online.

View all posts by Yvette Pistorio