Why now is the time for brands to prioritise social strategy

Read on for take-aways from our recent webinar, ‘Why now is the time for brands to prioritise social strategy’ as part of Brands2Life’s Autumn Webinar series. 

Now, more than ever, there is a 24-hour conversation happening on social media.

Brands must rapidly develop their social media presence to keep up with audiences, but in doing so they walk a fine line. Act too slowly and they risk getting left behind, act too quickly and they risk damaging their reputation by going viral for all the wrong reasons.

Failure to align your social media strategy with brand and corporate communication teams could leave your brand in hot water and have a detrimental effect on the whole business.

A bad social media strategy is just as ineffective as no social media strategy, but we’re here to help.

Together with senior social strategists from Google Cloud, LinkedIn and Thales, we explored how an effective social media strategy can take your brand from terror, to triumph. If you missed it, you can access the recording here or below.

Kinda Jackson, MD, Social and Digital at Brands2Life was joined by:

  • Ryan Visser, Head of Social Media, Google Cloud EMEA
  • Tim Cawsey, Communications Director, Thales
  • Conor Bolton, Senior Brand Marketing Manager & Social Media Lead EMEA & LATAM, LinkedIn

1) The benefits of having a clear social strategy

Conor Bolton kicked off the session with an important reminder we should be asking ourselves when reviewing social media strategy: “what are we doing?” and more importantly, “why are we doing it?”.

Both questions should be asked at every stage of reviewing your brands strategy, from reviewing content to planning a campaign brief. It always helps to keep the bigger picture in mind. A detailed social media strategy will also help larger organisations that are working cross-functionally with other teams to ensure social content is always on point for your audience.

Tim Cawsey agreed with Conor but also added: “having a strategy isn’t a one size fits all approach”, particularly when it comes to B2B audiences. The most important part is understanding who your audience is and knowing what works for them. Your strategy needs to flex and adapt depending on what sector each business is in. A clear social strategy will help you do this, as well as support a succinct tone of voice and set tangible objectives.

Ryan Visser followed by advocating balance when pulling together a social media strategy. He shared that a plan with too much detail is not always the best one as it doesn’t leave room for creativity and it lacks flexibility. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, you can never know exactly what will happen in the next six months… The benefit of a concise but calculated social media strategy allows for innovation and the unknown.

2) When your strategy is out of date, it’s time to refresh 

Ryan emphasised the importance of building flexibility into an brand’s social strategy. If flexibility is in the plan, then there is no need to keep rebuilding an entirely new strategy to realign with changing business goals. If you find yourself regularly needing to refresh your strategy in a big way, then it is probably a poor strategy to begin with.

Conor agreed, echoing that a social strategy should allow for minor tweaks to be made all the time. A plan with built in flexibility allows for timely responses to current social issues and enables organisations to join the important conversations of the moment. But Conor also warned brands that while being part of the conversation is important, words need to be backed up by actions. Being inauthentic or virtue-signaling will be picked apart by your audience. Organisations need cross functional teams so they can align, and coordinate responses that ultimately go out on social first.

Tim also urged brands that a successful social strategy must always be adaptable as the audience develops, the strategy can shift towards lead generation or thought leadership and reputation building. He also added that, particularly in tech, brands need to take advantage of fresh opportunities when new platforms come along; this again requires a slight shift in strategy.

3) If you don’t have an efficient social strategy in place, your brand can suffer

Ryan reiterated the significance of flexibility within a social strategy and encouraged brands to take a ‘fail fast’ approach to strategy. This means being able to know when an activity is not working earlier on in the process, using it as a prototype almost. By failing at the start of a project rather than at the end, you reduce the risk of your brand suffering from failure.

Tim expanded on how an insufficient social strategy can lead to wasting large amounts of time and cause internal disputes across different teams if points are not clear enough, which could create a domino effect on efficiency. He also cautioned that a poor strategy could hinder consistency. If everyone is not fully aware of the strategy, then you risk contradictory messaging.

Conor agreed that an ineffective strategy can damage a brands reputation, if not put in place correctly. But he also stressed that brands must work to be more comfortable on social media and shouldn’t be afraid of failure. When talking on broader social issues as a company, you are not going to please everyone, but he believes sometimes you must take a risk and show where you stand.

4) The brands that are truly nailing it with their social strategy

Finally, we asked our panel which brands are leading the way when it comes to executing a social strategy that hits the mark. Though their answers varied in many ways, one thing they all had in common was a clear connection between the brands values and their strategy. Each of the brand examples shared have grown their reputation using a strategy that clearly aligns with their core values. Take a look:

Ryan chose NASA based on the strength and magnitude of the brand itself. NASA delivers beautiful content and imagery which appeals to and educates people of all backgrounds. He mused that NASA’s content, while upbeat, contains no spelling errors, no mis-matched assets and no faulty links, and likens this to the same precision NASA adhere to when building their spacecrafts.

Tim pointed to three brands he thought were doing a great job with their social strategy. For him, Bosch is masterful at striking a great balance between innovative and approachable. Bosch consistently positions itself as an industry expert, while still coming across human, never taking themselves too seriously.

Another company he found to have a warm and human approach was MasterCard, pointing to their priceless moments campaign. He added that Peugeot’s strategy is extremely clear-cut, focusing on becoming fully electric in the near future, and appealing to all kinds of people within the industry.

Conor chose Gymshark, highlighting its rapid growth through working with influencers. He commended Gymshark’s clearly defined channel strategy, noting how it uses Instagram to drive sales and build its community, while Gymshark’s Twitter account focuses on the human side of the brand and truly gets across the brand’s tone of voice. He also commended their use of Twitter polls to get immediate feedback on their products.

To conclude, when taking into account the associated risks and rewards involved in social media management, it becomes clear that digital marketing is no place for a ‘wing it and see approach’. Catch up on the full discussion by watching the webinar on demand here.

And to watch more of Brands2Life’s webinars on demand and to see what’s coming up next visit our webinar series site.