The social strategy your company uses to engage with past, present and future customers has never been more important.  It was less than a decade ago that Twitter and Facebook became household names, but in that time people have started not just to use, but depend on various forms of social technology platforms as research and communication tools for their consumer needs.  A social media strategy is not just using the technology available, but defining what message, metrics, and insights your company is using to profit from social media.

In an article written by H. James Wilson, PJ Guinan, Salvatore Parise, and Bruce D. Weinberg, which was published in Harvard Business Review, the authors used their findings from a study of more than 1,1oo companies with defined social media programs to categorize social media strategies into 4 groups.  The categories were created based the level of uncertainty a company is open to, as well as the defined expectations of their social program.

Where do you think your existing social media strategy falls?  Are you dipping into more than one category?  Which strategy category would you like your business to using in the future?

Predictive Practitioner

Rather than opening up your social strategy to various areas of your business, you are testing the social waters with just one area.  The HBR article uses customer service as an example.  The benefit of starting your social program with a single focus allows you to minimize the uncertainty, but it also will enable you to put measurement tools in place before you begin to foray into other areas.

Creative Experimenter

This category is for businesses that are conducting small social tests using various technology platforms across various areas of your business, from customer engagement, to internal testing.  While still just wading in the social waters, you are open to the uncertainty that your program is built on.  Establishing a method for measurement is essential, or many tests will be conducted without the benefit of building your program or increasing your knowledge of the benefits social media at all.

Social Media Champion

Businesses in the Social Media Champion category are stretching their social legs and diving into the deep.  Your program is developed with predictable results in mind.  Your initiatives are complex and often bring in a third party for a well planned execution.

Social Media Transformer

You aren’t just swimming in the existing pool of technology for internal and external engagement.  You have taken steps to be a pioneer in the social business connection game by contributing to emerging social media technology that will bring out unexpected results and extend to external stakeholders.