Why Facebook or Twitter should be the last thing on your mind

Organisations regularly come to me for advice on setting up or maintaining a presence on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter; however, when it comes down to it, I always explain it should be the last thing on their mind.

It’s not that I think that Facebook or Twitter is the wrong choice for a business, more that the technology employed as part of a social media strategy is really the last consideration in a much wider process.

The first question I ask is “What was your reason for selecting Facebook over any other site?” closely followed by “…and what do you hope to achieve by using it?” More often than not the answer received relates to what the competition is doing, or an expectation they feel placed on them by all the hype and coverage surrounding social networks. It is seldom related back to achieving specific objectives for the business.

This is not confined to my one to one dealings with clients either. In my presentations to businesses I am often asked why I do not spend more time on the practical elements of using Twitter or Facebook. Why do I spend so much time on the theory, the ideas, rather than specific guidance on using particular services?

When it comes down to it, it’s all a matter of strategy.

Now a strategy all sounds very ‘blue-sky’, but in reality it’s just a name given to the process of assessing a market opportunity and putting forward a clear roadmap for delivering on a set of organisational objectives, using the resources available. It takes into consideration aspects such as the competition, the organisation’s market position and any existing relationship with consumers and wider stakeholders.

There are those who say you don’t need a strategy to use social media for your business, they’re of course right. You only need a strategy if you would like to achieve a specified set of organisational objectives through the use of social media services. Using them is relatively easy, getting the results you want can be a different matter.

The process I follow with clients builds upon the Forrester POST method, widely accepted as the industry standard, and takes a customer through the various stages necessary to develop a comprehensive set of actions for implementation. At the very end of this process is any decision to use Facebook, Twitter, or indeed any other social media service.

The decision to use one platform over another follows consideration of all the different factors: community, aims and objectives and resources. Prior to selecting the specific platforms a general approach is defined. Once these elements are in place the decision to use Facebook or Twitter is a relatively simple one. More importantly, the impetus for a client to allocate resources to their upkeep is a simple one.

On the other hand, those who start with the technology up-front, often find themselves dedicating a lot of time and energy to their Facebook or Twitter accounts in the early stages, only to find the results disappointing. This leads them to question whether their customers are really using these sites, whether there is any business to be done and whether dedicating time and energy into this activity is really worth it.

So before you rush to setup your Twitter, Facebook or other account, think: What would you like to achieve? What is the value of achieving that aim for your business? What resources are you willing to dedicate to achieving it? Define your approach first, add the technology later.

Do you agree or disagree, let me know by posting a comment in the box below. If you would like help in developing your own social media strategy please get in touch.


About the Author

I’m fascinated by how a company or organisation can change its fortunes and even undergo a transformation by looking at a challenge in a different way and by behaving in different ways.


  1. Kathryn Ashcroft Says :
    Posted on October 4, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    I completely agree. The most effective aspect of social media for my employer has been Flickr. I started from the view that I wanted to expand upon the types of people we needed to be talking to and Flickr has helped us reach people interested in sharing stories. We’ve sourced images (the generosity of the group I run has been amazing) and are developing packages tailored to meet the needs of this customer group.

    I run a Facebook page and a twitter profile almost as part of the course and have received comments that they could be more active but right now they just aren’t a focus of my strategy.

    I hadn’t really put this into words before so thank you for phrasing this so well!

    • Aren
      Posted on October 5, 2010 at 8:23 am

      Thanks Kathryn, it would be great to hear more about your use of Flickr. If you have the time to write a short blog post about your approach and the benefits I’d love to include it as a guest post on my blog.

      All the best, Aren

  2. Robert Pickstone Says :
    Posted on October 5, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Hi Aren,

    You know I agree with this method 😉 It makes business sense. If a person or company is not fussed about time or results, then they should go nuts and have as much fun as possible without worrying about how it compliments their current business operartions or what benefits are gained.

    Most of us don’t fall into this category though and the Forrester method you use both makes sense and is easy to understand.

    By the way, nice to see you blogging. If only we all had more time…


  3. David McGuire Says :
    Posted on March 11, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
    – Sun Tzu

    (Thought you’d like that one, Aren…)

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