Screw the strategy and just dive in

Julia Claire Campbell Social Media, Strategy 10 Comments

Recently I read a thought-provoking interview with the brilliant Guy Kawasaki, author of Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions. If you’ve never heard of him, he’s the co-founder of and was previously the “chief evangelist” of Apple.

So, the guy knows something about how to best enchant people.

What struck me most in the interview was that Kawasaki told the interviewer that a researched and methodical social media strategy is simply not needed to begin using social networks.

Wait, what?

According to Kawasaki, people should “just dive in.”

This is the man who has written 10 books, most of them New York Times bestsellers. Don’t plan? Screw the strategy?

This philosophy goes against everything I tell my clients. It goes against every fiber of my hyper-analyzing, list-making, overthinking being.

To be a good, by-the-book social media marketer and consultant, you must plan. You must read article, make check lists, create elaborate strategies and build in ROI measurement.

I get together with my clients, identify their goals, write up a plan, fill out an editorial calendar, pinpoint which social networks to focus on, and viola. They are then, and only then, ready to jump in.

Kawasaki really gave me food for thought. With the typical person or business or organization, using the planning first method, it is usually a long way from the initial interest in social networking to the actual work of engaging and posting.

Kawasaki says that’s ridiculous, and I’m beginning to believe him.

He says, accurately, that it’s damn near impossible to create goals and strategies for something that you have never used before and are not familiar with.

Getting familiar and “testing the waters” first, he says, is the way to proceed. (Planning and measuring can all be done later.)

What do you think? Did you screw the strategy and just get started with social networking? Is it like the chicken or the egg – which comes first, planning or experience? Anything I’m missing?

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Comments 10

  1. Donato

    Eventually, a strategy is certainly needed. I feel that in the beginning, the user needs to get comfortable with the networks before they are ready to use them for business. For example, with Twitter, I had to use it just to follow people and collect information before I could actually use it somewhat effectively. Over that time, I learned things like what a hash tag is and how to create streams. Eventually, I felt eager to start pushing my own thoughts but it wasn’t until after I was about knee deep into the Twitter scene that I could actually see myself using it effectively.

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  2. Ed

    It’s all about balance.

    I advise clients to assess their customers and prospects and first find out which channels they are Using.

    Skip that step and you could just as well bark in the dark…like the proverbial driver who lost his car keys in the parking lot but went out to the street to search under the lamppost because the light was better there.

    Of course, ther’s nothing wrong with leading your customers and prospects to a new channel too, as long as it works for everyone i.e. fulfills a burning need so well that people prefer the new channel. Otherwise, don’t bother trying to push that rope. Innovation for its own sake is a fun hobby…mainly.

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  3. Jan Hemmingsen (@conuent_com)

    When starting out I signed up for the various media with a personal account and got to know the ropes so to speak. I was not that active, but noted what worked and what didn’t as well as what I liked and disliked.

    When I sat down thinking about my marketing strategy I was sure that social media was going to play a part and also knew what networks I would use, how and why. The most important part was perhaps that I knew where I wanted to be.

    Hence my process is more like a three step plan with the first step being getting my feet wet, the second thinking about that experience and what it overall means in terms of why am I using social media and thirdly plan in more detail where, what, how and so on…

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  4. Chris Handzlik (@ChrisHandzlik)

    Good question. Reminds me of the 2008 Technorati survey suggesting that 95% of blogs lie abandoned. Would that percentage have been smaller if more of the nascent bloggers had started with a plan? In a one-person operation, jumping in plan-less may be feasible because it’s so easy to jump back out. But as we start talking about larger shops, where the decision to move forward with a first or additional social media channel will require commitment and participation by multiple people, I’d say a plan helps (a) sell the idea, (b) set expectations for effort needed, and (c) establish basic success metrics. Formulating plans also tends to encourage snooping into how other folks are doing things — a great opportunity to avoid obvious mistakes and adopt best practices. @chrishandzlik

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