Social media strategy can be difficult to articulate to clients, particularly in a pitch. I came across a stunning piece of thinking from Douglas Holt in Harvard Business Review which, in my opinion, can work as a framework for talking to clients about social media strategy. It’s long and worth a read but the summary is as follows:
Holt calls his approach cultural branding.
He argues that brands are part of contemporary culture and given that social media is changing how culture is formed and shaped, then so too should the way we build brands.
It outlines how brands can identify with the emerging social trends (or ‘crowd culture’) that are associated with a category and express a point of view on them.
For example, Chipotle take a point of view on industrialised food production in their ‘Going back to the start’ (the story of a farmer who becomes disillusioned with the dark forces of industrialized farming and decides to go back to producing fresh, natural food).
In another example he outlines how Under Armour took a point of view on female stereotyping in fashion for their famous ‘I will what I want’ campaign with Gisele Bundchen
Holt’s five steps are:
- Map the cultural orthodoxy – what’s going on in the mainstream in terms of everyday consumer beliefs e.g. mainstream people believe that female media celebrities are dumb and skinny fashionistas*
- Locate the cultural opportunity in emerging trends e.g. forward thinkers don’t judge people by their media stereotype
- Target the crowd culture and take on their cause e.g. Like you, Under Armour believe that women are more powerful than their media stereotype
- Diffuse the new ideology by seeding it with the target communities
- Innovate continually with cultural flashpoints
* italics are my quick interpretation of what Under Armour are saying in the campaign just for this article so be kind:-)
The implication of Holt’s idea is that brands should stand shoulder to shoulder with their target consumers strongly held points of view.
It’s hard to find a good way of framing social media strategy to make it compelling for clients . I think Holts thinking is really useful in this regard. Also, I realise this summary means you have to join-the-dots so I strongly recommend the read the full article here https://hbr.org/2016/03/branding-in-the-age-of-social-mediautm_campaign=HBR&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social
And Douglas Holts website is here http://culturalbranding.org/