The Next Big Thing in Social, Or the Next Big Social Strategy?

Recently I was asked the question “What’s the next big thing in social?”.  Immediately I had a flood of possibilities come to mind, followed quickly by the inherent fear “have I missed anything major?”.

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As I nixxed trends that are nearing maturity and immature trends on the horizon, I started to wonder if this was the right question in the first place.  After all, if I said “video”, it could only take a slight network algorithm change to make this reality different in a few months.  Even though touted by most as the “next big thing”, should something so tactical be something a brand should hang their entire social strategy on?

The more I thought about this question, the more clear it became to me that while brands should stay up-to-date on these trends and should test and learn continually, they also need to spend more time developing “the next big social strategy”.   This type of social strategy is one that helps brand pick and choose their efforts wisely, but isn’t too narrow to prevent the brand from seeing value in new opportunities in new tactics as they arise.

How does a brand craft this type of strategy?  I’ve identified 3 major starting points below.

1. Know your audience, and don’t try to serve too many

This seems pretty basic marketing doesn’t it? The best brands in social know who their target is and filter everything through this lens. While tools and technologies may change, keeping a consumer-centric strategy in social will help create better execution and make better decisions on what new opportunities make sense to pursue or test.  Remember that fewer audiences often leads to clearer strategies and better execution.

2. Be true to your real marketing objectives

What is your real purpose with social?  What “unsaid” value is everyone in your organization hoping that social will drive?  Consider these objectives and understand that defining how social can support these will help you make better decisions and priorities.  This shouldn’t be considered a limitation but a helpful focus that allows you to decide what makes sense to pursue and what makes sense not to.

3. Set a platform agnostic strategy

This is the most important part to focus on because setting a strategy too focused on specific social networks can blind a brand to other opportunities that exist or arise in the space. Remember when brands were so focused on “gaining Facebook fans” that they were blind to opportunities arising on other networks or even off networks? Remember how fast that approach became outdated?

All of this said, you need to understand the delicate balance that exists between innovation and strategy. The best brands in social understand that they must hold their strategy and ongoing tactics accountable to measurable results, while understanding the degree of risk and effort put towards innovative tactics that may or may not take off.

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