This infamous quote from George Bush Jnr may be a source of countless internet memes, but it also sums up the attitude of many misguided business executives whose digital strategies are doomed to failure. According to Gartner, 50% of enterprises are not receiving a worthwhile return on their investment in social media (networkworld.com), which is a sign of a digital strategy that is too focused on the ‘digital’ and not enough on the ‘strategy’.
A lot of organizations have been made aware of the vast potential of the internet, but they’re still grappling with the question of how they can best harness that potential. They hear about the next big thing, whether it’s social media or micro-blogs or YouTube, and rush to establish a presence there without first establishing a plan.
Of course, this impulsiveness is a natural part of the process when something as game-changing as the internet arrives to alter the business landscape. In time, companies will realize that digital strategy requires more than simply starting an account on whatever new social media platform has come to light and hoping for the best.
What is Digital Strategy?
Some businesses struggle to fully comprehend the concept of digital strategy, let alone figure out the optimal way to approach it. Others like to keep it really simple, and define digital strategy as “the thing that Amazon and Google do really well”. It seems natural to assume that the term implies a strategy for operating on the internet. But an online strategy is just a sub-division of digital strategy.
The best way for an organization to approach a digital strategy is the same way it would approach any other kind of strategy; by first determining exactly what they want to achieve. Too many organizations approach it as if their objective was getting onto social media, rather than getting through to the people who are using social media.
Applying Business Analysis to Digital Media
An organization should take the same approach as it would to developing a business strategy, using business analysis techniques such as SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) and MOST (Mission, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics) to determine its qualities and find out how best to seize opportunities in the social media space. Mashable recommends asking questions like:
- What is the overall mission of your enterprise? What brand, product or service are you attempting to sell, and what are the demographics of your target market?
- What is the message you are going, and what emotional effect do you intend that message to have on your target audience?
Only then should a company progress to the actual “digital” side of the strategy, determining what digital medium would be best suited to delivering that message in a manner that will have the desired impact on the target audience.
Where digital strategy differentiates itself is in adaptability. Through social media, companies have constant access to customer feedback, whether they initiate the discussion themselves or monitor it through social media networks.
But, too many companies make the mistake of assuming this will happen by itself. They have to ensure their brand elicits a reaction before they themselves can react. There may be rumours on the internets, but whether the right people are paying attention to them, and whether it’s the right kind of attention, depends on an efficient digital strategy.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Written by Matthew Flax on behalf of Now Learning, a higher education portal in Australia that promotes a range of courses and degrees in subjects as diverse as finance courses and aromatherapy.