All of those photos you’re posting, ads you’re paying for, videos you’re shooting, social media platforms you’re experimenting with, profiles you’re creating, hashtags you’re using – you know, all of the things you (and I) do that are public-facing on social media – they’re not a strategy.

These are tactics.

I’ve been noticing this for some time, but it struck me recently how many articles I read that don’t properly distinguish between strategy and tactics. In most cases, tactics are alluded to, or passed off as being, strategies, which simply is not correct. In some cases, these ‘strategy’ articles provide some really interesting tactics, but no matter how interesting a tactic might be, it’s not a strategy.



: a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time (via Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

As is so eloquently articulated by my good friends Noah, George and Charles, a strategy is a plan to achieve your goals, not the actions that are required to achieve your goals.

Simple, right? So what’s the fuss all about?

I’m raising this distinction as a topic of discussion because misinformation leads to bad decision-making, and bad decision-making hurts those making said decisions. And I, like you (I assume), would like people to make sound decisions.

Many whom will read this article are likely involved in one way or another in the creation and implementation of social media strategies, whether it is for their own business, their employer’s business, or their clients’ businesses.

No matter who you are developing and implementing strategies for,There is too much at stake to not have a social media strategy in place. Period. it’s important for everyone to fully understand the purpose and value of a well researched, thought through and measurable strategy.

Without this full understanding, a strategy’s perceived value is undermined and diminished, and the effort it requires may be questioned to the point of a strategy’s creation being forfeited altogether.

With no strategy, results of public-facing tactics will not only be poor, but activity will not be able to be measured, optimized, or attributed to any meaningful outcomes (and no, ‘likes’, comments, shares, followers, pins, hearts, and high-fives don’t count… read more here).

Further to this, there will be no real foundation on which to determine the tactics that should be implemented, and for what reason those tactics are implemented in the first place. Without this foundation, your business will be flying blind in the social space.

There is too much at stake to not have a social media strategy in place. Period.

To risk the very creation of a social media strategy because of some confusion between strategy and tactics is foolish and easy to overcome.

How can you apply this distinction right now and for what benefit?


Let’s all try to do our best to be clear about whether we’re talking strategy or tactics when we publish content, and talk to our colleagues and our clients. In every instance of the word ‘strategy’ being misused that inspired the creation of this post, the word ‘tactic(s)’ could have been subbed in without issue. It’s an easy fix, and we’ll all look smarter, and be more clear about what we’re talking about as a result.


Let’s work to remind those around us of this distinction. It will result in a better educated audience be it comprised of current or prospective clients, coworkers, management, counterparts, enthusiasts, or those eager for education and participation in this community of social media marketers. More accurate information is a win-win for everyone involved.


We should all be sure to remind ourselves of this distinction every day when doing work for our, or our clients’, businesses. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the latest and greatest social platforms, functionality, tools and media options, but putting all of these things in the context of a strategy will help to keep this clutter organized and in focus. If you can do this, you’ll achieve better, more meaningful results.


How do you promote the importance of strategy amongst stakeholders for the business you work for/on?

Have you ever been guilty of not properly making the distinction of strategy vs. tactics?

Are there any commonly discussed tactics that you frequently see being misidentified as strategy?

As always, it’d be great to discuss this with you more in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial

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  1. […] It is important to be clear about the distinction between strategy and tactics because misinformation leads to bad decision-making. There is too much at stake for this to not be perfectly clear. …  […]


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ROI, Social Business, Social Media Marketing, Social Media Strategy, Strategy


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