Social media strategy… nope, it has to be a social culture

I’ve been working in the world of digital and social media now for some mumble mumble years, with most of them specialising in social media and advertising. Slowly over this time I’ve seen the industry take shape, adapt and change, evolve and innovate.

But, the more things change, the more I see things standing still, today I work with many brands and some fantastic clients doing awesome things, like social and cultural change projects with the Drug Foundation and Defence Force through to consumer-focused ads with Gazley Motors and their suite of car brands. The thing that makes for the most impact in social media is surprisingly not sticking specifically to a solid social media strategy that integrates your marketing and advertising objects, nor is it running the best campaigns with huge budgets. In fact, it’s quite the opposite…

Let me explain things a little; I called a client the other day and asked them; “Had someone had fallen asleep on the ‘post’ button?” as they published unrelated content up one after another. Volume is not part of the game, its relevance and inspiration (insert my view on producing content that inspires people to take action, not to just scroll on by)… Still, clients know they need to be doing ‘the social media’ but not accurately understanding the how or why they need to be there.

So often I hear people still dropping the social content, opting for a single creative or TVCs (scary that people still throw money at TV… it’s dead, move on…). Or rush to put up content as they’ve missed days in their schedule.

So what works the best? As the title suggests the most effective use of social media is a social culture. Where the transparency of social media is integrated into the fabric of an organisation, try as you might to executing on any strategy, it will be a challenge if you don’t truly grasp what social media is, and how and why you should be using it.

Social media is the clear, direct connection to the heart and soul of an organisation, it’s not just a tool for advertising product and service, but to showcase brands, the passion for the people within them, connecting to consumers and understanding what they want from a brand, it’s a recruitment channel, is a community that support a brand… I could go on.

I blame our industry, and myself for this oversight; social media has fallen into the realms of Ad Agencies, driven to create revenue, feed by social platforms like Facebook and the ability to run ads, primarily we have all lost sight of the beauty of social as we chase the revenue. And why not, when a perfectly reasonable strategy is to post once a month and run ads or pay an influencer to post one pic for you… You’ll sell products as the masses rush to purchase the latest and greatest.

But… there’s always a but.

You are missing the point! You are missing the ability to connect and build a brand reputation beyond the sale of your product. You are missing the ability to have your community sharing and telling you their story about your brand. You are missing the ability to test and refine products and services through communities. Yes, this takes work and effort, passion and the understanding of the nuance of social communication. But with a long term focus, the investment is well worth it.

Don’t focus on your social media and creative campaigns, focus on creating an internal culture of social media, love your staff, inspire them to share their stories, then use those stories to communicate to your brand’s values to your community, give them the freedom to share, then curate and cultivate.

Build something your team and people believe in; the story is always better when it’s real.

After all, a strategy will always get eaten by culture, in any organisation, not just startups.

Thanks for reading, now tell a story you believe in.


Editor in Chief at here SMNZ, I have a passion for social and digital media. When not writing and managing SMNZ I am the Head of Innovation at TAG The Agency, a digital ad agency and the Head of Sales and Marketing for End-Game, a software development agency. I'm also involved with a number of startups and I am always keen to support those that are bold enough to give things a go. Start something, better to try than to live wondering what if...