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Rethinking Social Media Strategy: 6 New Categories

The great thing about helping a lot of different kinds of companies understand social media better is that they always challenge my previous assumptions so I’m regularly challenged to refine my work. In fact, it was one client in particular that led me to adjust my thoughts on outsourced social media earlier this year.

Why Refining Was Necessary
In the last few months I’ve created a lot of social media plans for clients and spoken to dozens of groups about social media. In every single case I have discussed the fact that social media strategy is a two-sided coin. What I’ve realized about simply saying “content and conversation are your strategy” is that it’s far too broad for people who don’t yet understand some of the nuances of social media.

For instance, a business owner who’s trying to get her social media strategy established isn’t going to know that sometimes you want to create content and other times you want to empower other people to create content for you. Technically both of those fall under the “content strategy” I was talking about. Both are powerful and effective social media marketing components, but if I don’t explain the multi-dimensional aspects of a content and conversation strategy I’m not serving anyone well.

The Six Categories of Social Media Strategy
Over the last month or so I’ve begun weaving this into my work and just this week it really crystallized in my mind so I want to share that here. Yes, content and conversation are still the two sides of the social media coin. Yes, they are your strategy, but in an effort to see all the parts of what that means we need to incorporate three new words: create, facilitate, and participate. Here’s what we end up with when we do. There are now six more specific categories under the broad “content and conversation strategy” umbrella:

  1. Create content: You create content on your own platforms
  2. Create conversations: You initiate conversations on your own platforms
  3. Facilitate content: You empower others to create content on their platform
  4. Facilitate conversations: You lead conversations on another platform
  5. Participate in content: You join in creating content on another platform
  6. Participate in conversations: You join a conversation on another platform

I’ve known for years that all of the six categories above were part of social media strategy and would reflect those in the campaigns I created for clients but until now I haven’t been able to articulate it this clearly. I hope you find it helpful as you move forward with your own social media efforts.


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  • Jeff

    The fly fishing guide could do well if he could do one or two short videos that show him fishing and interacting with the camera. He could do a video lesson on casting that would speed up time for new fishermen that use his services. When you do this, you will make people comfortable by introducing yourself and your style through the video, and they will know you are legit.

    The site should also include information that local shops are willing to share like specific flies that are working right now. This will help people trust him and he can also start an e-store offering incredible discounts on the flies that are getting a lot of action in the streams.

  • billseaver

    Jeff, good thoughts here. The local angle makes a lot of sense. Good idea!