Whether your agency specifically calls it a strategy phase or not, most digital or marketing projects you undergo have some sort of strategy component to them. If the project starts to go all over the place or if you're constantly running up against questions you don't know how to answer, this could be an indicator that your strategy hasn't been defined. Any major project should start with a defined set of goals and a strategy to accomplish those goals.
We all make assumptions about our users: their likes and dislikes, what we think they would and wouldn't do and why. We base these assumptions off experience and insights, and often, our assumptions are correct. But you know what they say about assuming, right!?
If you're working with an agency, make sure they have incorporated market research into their process to validate both your assumptions and theirs about your project and your target audience.
Research can be formal or informal, and there's a specific place for both kinds, but in general, any time you can get input from real users and from real target audiences take it and let it influence your assumptions.
Research can also be deeper than consumer research. We often conduct discovery-level research aboutour clients because they are full of gems and insights that can positively influence project goals and ultimately the digital strategy.
Once your agency has completed the research phase, which again may include market research, consumer research and even research about your company, they should be able to show you exactly how the data they have gathered will be directly applied to the digital strategy they will create for your project.
When you're working on a big website project, it can be easy to treat your social efforts as an afterthought, but the aim of your social media presence should come into line with the same goals as your digital strategy.
Yes, any social efforts should help you connect with your audience in authentic ways, but deeper than that, it should carry your digital strategy from your website into your social media outlets, focusing your website, posts and social campaigns towards the same aim.
Strategy can often be a buzz word thrown around in marketing, and sadly, it's losing it's meaning. However, strategy, as we define it here at Venveo, is “The means for obtaining a goal based on research and information." In other words, strategy is the interpretation of the research you and your agency have conducted. Additionally, your strategy shouldn't be confined to your website alone, it should be for your digital presence as a whole, including how you position yourself online and offline.
Really I think this question lends itself to another question: strategy versus execution? At it's core, strategy is like an “idea", and there can be many ways to execute on an idea. So instead of saying each social media outlet needs it's own strategy, I'd say each social media outlet requires it's own type of execution or could be a way to execute on your overall digital strategy.
Now, clearly, you want to start with defining the ultimate goal for your business and how digital can help you meet that goal. However, if your website has a unique goal and your Facebook and Twitter have their own unique goals and then Instagram and Pinterest each have their own unique goals, your efforts will start to become divided.
All of your digital efforts should aim for the same bullseye.