Social Media Strategies and Tactics Are Not the Same

Let’s Not Confuse Tactics with Strategy

If I learned one thing in a previous life as a Tactics Coordinator in my old Navy squadron, it’s that Objectives, Strategies and Tactics are distinctly different concepts.

This point came up today during a wildly fun and respectful debate at a business mastermind group I contribute to on most Saturday mornings.  One of the key takeaways I came out with is that it can be dangerous to confuse Strategy with Tactics.  (Download the interactive mindmap notes below that highlight today’s mastermind meeting. )

SMMOC Meeting Notes 06-18-2011 (v-2.0)|1.89 MB|downloads: 928
You must use Adobe Reader (not Preview or other viewers) to view this document. Interactive mindmap of the highlights from Orange County's Social Media Mastermind (SMMOC) group. Opens in a PDF player. Interactive, with expandable branches and live hyperlinks to key resources. (If you find this useful, I'd appreciate you helping out by: 1. Liking the article and 2. Telling your friends!)

All too often, we hear about social media consultants / experts / coaches / (insert your favorite noun here) espousing the need for a “social media strategy.”  Only to then move forward and describe these strategies in terms of tools and techniques for using some new shiny social network, online service or blog plug-in; tools to automate or otherwise greatly enhance some online activity.

I’m not debunking the great skill with which some of our friends wield these tools.  It’s great, in fact, to have that kind of proficiency with a vast toolset.  But, as far as those go, they’re tactics.  Not strategies.

Why Should You Care?

Ask any military person with field/operational responsibility, and she’ll tell you that Objectives and Strategies (also distinct from each other) should dictate tactics.  Tactics should never dictate strategy.  (Lives have been lost that way.)

Objectives vs Strategies vs Tactics

(Click to enlarge)

The image above is one way I might suggest viewing the distinctions.  Read some of the examples (click to enlarge) and let me know what you think.

What would you say are other examples that could help paint a picture in the minds of our clients and executives about the differences between a social media “strategy” and a social media “tool” or “tactic?”

Related posts in this series

Facebook – What’s the Difference Between the Newsfeed and the Wall? Part 2.

So, How Exactly Is My Facebook ‘Wall’ Different From My Facebook ‘Newsfeed’?


Yesterday, I addressed Part 1.  It addressed one of the FAQs about the Newsfeed.  That is, it being a section of your Facebook functionality that shows updates about your friends.  But, that’s not all there is to the Newsfeed.

In yesterday’s video, you also learned about some of the filtering aspects of the Newsfeed and, maybe more importantly, the powerful way in which it allows each of us to give “social validation” to off-site content via our Facebook network.

In the video above, I pulled another module from the Video Courses Library to address the second part of the question — the Wall.


While the Newsfeed gives updates about the activities of your friends; the Wall gives updates about activities related to you.

Does this help?  I know the question I’m addressing in this 2-parter will continue to be asked every now and then.  That’s not a problem.  I’m happy to help.  And, now I can at least augment my answers by sending a link to this series.

I hope you feel free to do the same.

By The Way, Let’s See If You Notice Something

By the way, Facebook recently made an update to some functionality I mention in the video.  It could conceivably be added as new functionality in the video topic.  Can you pick it out?

[Video] Four Areas of Facebook Privacy Settings — Know Them!

(Video: From topic #9 of the 20-part Facebook video course.  Part of the 5-course MelAclaroDotCom video/screencast titles.)

“Facebook is the slowly warming pot of water and we, my friends, are the frog. By the time we noticed our peeling skin, another hunk of our privacy is long gone…”
~Helen A. S. Popkin, MSNBC

If you had asked me a few months ago if I think we’ll see social network privacy legislation on the congressional agenda sometime in the next three years, I would have said yes.   But, ask me that same question today…okay, I would still say yes.

Without a doubt, social network privacy is an issue.  But, what’s weird is that, despite it being the issue that it is in weekly news, I still have friends who remain bewildered about the process of manipulating your privacy preferences.  And, perhaps worse than ignoring your privacy settings on Facebook and other social networks, is to follow in the steps of one of my immediate relatives (whom shall remain nameless for fear of being disowned by the eldest of my two younger sisters), that is: to choose NOT to participate at all on Facebook for fear of sharing too much information.

“Joining Facebook is a conscious choice… Don’t share if you’re not comfortable.”
~Elliott Schrage, Facebook VP

Whichever side of the fence you’re on regarding the issue of participating or not participating in spite of the privacy issues, you may agree that knowing is half the battle.  (Indeed, half the fun, some would say.)

So, it’s in that spirit that I put together the informational video above.  It’s actually an extract from a 20-part video/screencast series on the topic of Facebook.  And that topic itself is part of a larger 5-part series spanning Facebook, Blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn and Blogging with WordPress.

Does (Network) Size Matter?

My friend Eric Stegemann was kind enough to share a recent WSJ article touting a phenomenon you may or may not have heard about: the Dunbar effect. So named after the British anthropologist, Robin Dunbar, who first proposed it. It’s a phenomenon he and I had referenced on a few occasions during some of our meetups.

The gist of the Dunbar effect states that there is a cognitive limit to the number of people with whom you and I can reasonably maintain stable social relationships. About 150, give or take.

(Video: Managing Productivity Amongst the Noise)

Mr. Dunbar’s number is the basis of my video above. The vid is the first of a series in a new online course I’m putting together for release next month spanning the “Big 5” social platforms. And, although the vid above uses the Twitter network as its subject, the implied challenges for you and me as we manage all the friends, followers, contacts, and visitors we each have via the social sphere really applies to any network — be it online (URL) or in real life (IRL).

The question is, given that our orbitomedial prefrontal cortex (as mentioned in the WSJ article) seems to limit our relationships to about 150, what value then can you and I glean from the size of our social networks? Do the additional thousands of followers + friends + contacts + visitors we’ve amassed benefit us at all if it isn’t reasonable to expect that we can maintain a realistic “relationship” with each of them?

What do you think?

Email Is Also Social Media

Once again, we had another great meeting at this past weekend’s meetup with the Social Media Mastermind, Orange County (SMMOC) roundtable professionals.  By the way, if you haven’t been to one of those, and you live in Southern California, you should try attending one.  Here’s where you can get more information about upcoming events.

In any case, one of the questions that came up for discussion during our last meeting (and we talked about a lot of things including Rockmelt and–get this–placing QR Codes on sheep (?!)) was the role of email in social media marketing activities for businesses.

How Do You Define Social Media?

Now, if you ask me, if you take the definition of social media as a media channel for social interaction using highly accessible and scalable web-based publishing techniques to turn communication into interactive dialogues,  then you also have to consider email as part of that venn diagram of social media channels, as well.

Now, one of the things we were talking about on this topic was that all the activities that we’re used to doing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and so on — these are things we do in social networks.  And while there’s a place for business and marketing in social networks, I wouldn’t actually recommend trying to garner a point-of-sale transaction in a social network.

The point of sale is still better-managed within email-as-social-media vs. social-networks-as-social-media.

What do you think?  If you’re a business owner, how do you actually make an online sale?  Do you find yourself doing that in social networks?  Or, is there a process you follow that leverages email and dedicated online ecommerce locations?  What have you found effective?

YouTube Video Annotations – How To Create Links To Other Videos

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I made this vid in response to the suggestion of a friend.  She, a few friends and I are helping a committee put together a birthday bash for Jeff Pulver, Founder of the popular 140 Character Conference series.  And, while you’re invited to attend this event –it’s going to be in Irvine, CA on September 15th — that’s not the point of this post.

The point is to share with you the same points I’m trying to address in this video as a result of a suggestion from my friend Stacey Soleil:  that not everyone might know how YouTube annotations work or for what purposes they can be used.

But, a couple of things are worth noting.  I shot the video above quickly.  And, since this is a blog about video and video-blogging, I now have to comment on the video quality.  🙁

Multiple Sources Of Light Is Important

One thing you’ll notice is that in the 2 minute pre-amble, the subject (me) appears darker relative to the background.  While filters could be applied in post-production (the Editing phase) to try and bring the subject out a bit better, your best bet will always be to try and get the initial conditions right at Production time (video shooting phase).  I clearly allowed the time crunch I was under to get the better of me in this video.  And, while it still accomplished it’s objective, there are a couple of things that could have made the quality even better:

Option A.  Place at least one light source — preferably two — in front of the subject and off-camera.

Typically, you’d want 3 sources of light.  This is especially important indoors where shadows on back walls can create unintended effects in your video; 3-point light sources indoors help alleviate those shadows.  Anyway, in this option, the sun counts as one source, but two more sources could have helped by placing them at roughly 45-degree angles in front of the subject and off-camera.  Tip:  The other sources of light don’t necessarily have to be powered lights.  They can actually be reflectors of some sort–in many cases, a building itself may actually count as a reflector!  In fact, on a good day, I’ve often been able to get away with simply using the sun itself as a point source.  Although, others will point out that even in those cases, I’m still essentially using multi-sources of light because the reflection you’ll typically get from other surfaces will act as your secondary light sources.

Option B.  Move Away From the Building.

Since this video was shot early in the day, the sun was still fairly low on the horizon.  And, I shot it under an awning.  Not a great combination.  It would have been better to move the whole shebang out from under the awning and further away from the structure that was behind the camera.  In that way, I would have captured some of the very benefits I pointed out in Option A above, which is to capture some of the reflection coming off of the structure itself.

Ending On A Good Note

During the preamble, you’ll see that I previewed the very objects I was going to be talking about by using them as fun examples before actually dipping right into the teaching phase.  I can’t take credit for that technique.  It’s one I’ve learned from other instructional designers and presenters whom I’ve found have used very similar techniques to great effect.  (Now, whether or not *I* used it effectively is for you to judge. 😉

The point is, to follow basic presentation doctrine:  1.  Tell them what you’re going to teach them;  2.  Teach them what you said you were going to teach them; then, 3.  Tell them what you taught them.)

The other thing is you’ll notice that I was able to use two different types of media in the same timeline.  One type is the full motion video you see in the 2-minutes on the front end, and then again in the 5 or so seconds on the back end.  The other type of media was a screencast which I placed in the timeline smack in the middle.

I’d be interested in your thoughts about this technique.  It used to be the case that I’d simply start recording a screencast from beginning to end.  But, more and more in recent shots I’ve been playing around with a mix of full motion video as an introductory piece to certain screencasts before actually diving into them.  Anyway, I’ll keep experimenting here.  And, you should, too.

Till next time.  I hope you have a great weekend.

How Do I Setup a YouTube Channel?

Social Media Marketing Tip: This video is in response to a question I had on a webinar I hosted just now for members of the National Association of Realtors.  The topic was:  “YouTube and Beyond – 7 Powerful Video Marketing Strategies To Increase Your Leads.”

One question that was asked, which I didn’t have time to get to was:  “How do I set up a YouTube Channel?”  That, my friend, is the subject of this video.

So, to my N.A.R. friends, here you go!  Hope it helps!  If you have more questions, just post them for me in the comments area, or touch base via my How To Contact Mel section here.