December 11, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

The Army vs. Air Force Approach to Social Media

The Army vs. Air Force Approach to Social Media

At CustomScoop, we work with a wide range of clients who want to monitor traditional and social media. Not only do organizations and industries differ, the styles of approaching media monitoring can be quite varied as well.

In particular, I notice two very different approaches to tracking and interacting with media monitoring results, especially in the social media arena. One type of organization takes an Army approach, going from individual to individual to wage “battle” by promoting sales, delivering customer service, or engaging in thought leadership 1-on-1. Others take an Air Force approach, utilizing strategic targeting to deliver key messages and respond to critics’ attacks.

Let’s take a moment to look at each style.

The Army Approach

Organizations that seek to engage as many prospects, customers, and other key constituents as possible through social media typically deploy Army-style strategy and tactics. They want to identify every friend or foe and deal with them directly. They want to see the digital “whites of their eyes.”

These types of clients typically deploy media monitoring using what has come to be known as a “Social CRM” approach. They seek to track each comment and every interaction. They will find mentions and assign them to sales reps, customer service associates, or communicators to handle individually.

This approach delivers a high-degree of touch, but for that reason tends to scale poorly – it requires more and more human resources to address. Nevertheless, it can be an excellent choice for many clients.

The Air Force Approach

While some organizations are in the trenches, others try to operate above the fray to monitor, analyze, and deliver messages in traditional and social media. This represents an Air Force approach where the focus is on accurate targeting, measured messaging, and careful after-action “bomb damage” assessments.

The Air Force approach to social media can work for organizations that do not have the resources to implement an Army approach – either because the volume is so high or because the resources are so scarce, or both. It focuses more on broad trends and identifying key influencers rather than in trying to win the hearts and minds of every villager.

Organizations that follow this path achieve scalability but sacrifice some of the personal touch.

The Superpower Approach

Just as there are some global superpowers that have well-balanced military prowess, some organizations have the desire and resources to implement both the Air Force and Army approaches to social media. They may do so in one integrated shop, or the sales and customer service teams may take the Army direction and the public relations and marketing shops might oversee the Air Force approach.

Ultimately, every organization must make choices based on their own needs and resources. Neither technique is universally superior and often some sort of a hybrid approach may also be considered.

How do you approach social media as an organization?

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About The Author

Chip Griffin is the Founder of CustomScoop. He writes and speaks frequently about data-driven public relations. You can follow him on Twitter at @ChipGriffin.

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