Strategy is the Killer App

As more and more business rush into the social media space, I see less strategy and more action. Sometimes "just geting started" is a good thing, but typically jumping in feet first without any idea of how deep the water is results in clear and speedy failure.

I’ve always been struck by this quote from Abraham Lincoln:

If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four sharpening the axe.

This is a great way to think about getting involved with your community – if you want to have true success in working with consumers directly, spend as much time up front preparing as you plan on executing. Some people might read this quote and assume it means that we should waste time over-planning our activities. This is certainly one way of reading the quote, but it’s certainly not what Lincoln meant. The point is that we can just start chopping away, working up a sweat, and hopefully meet the timeline. Or we can determine the key criteria to achieve success, work on those first, and then start working. Not only do you have the same (or better) results, you’ve created less headache for yourself.

Imagine if Edelman had spent that much time thinking through all the potential problems before launching their incredibly ill-fated Wal-Mart blog. They would have discovered, for instance, that you need to register the domain names of fake action groups you make up…