Same goes for media and marketing. There’s no such thing as traditional or new media, just as there’s no such thing as traditional or social media marketing. All there is media and marketing, and both have always been and always will be in a constant state of tactical evolvement.

In fact, when people talk or write about “social media marketing” being a discipline unto itself – one requiring a unique skills set and understanding to master – all they’re really talking about is the last item in what I like to call the G’SOT. And unless you understand the difference between Goals, Strategies, Objectives and Tactics (the G’SOT), you’re likely to dismiss anything else there is to say on the subject.

So, for the uninitiated:

  • A goal is a broad primary outcome.
  • A strategy is the approach you take to achieve a goal.
  • An objective is a measurable step you take to achieve a strategy.
  • A tactic is a tool you use in pursuing an objective associated with a strategy.

Countless example of G’SOT in action exist, including this one I’ve just riffed for Intel’s line of Core processors:

Goal: Make our Core PC microprocessors a category leader in sales revenue by year X.

Strategy: Persuade buyers that our Core processors are the best on the market by associating with large, well-established PC manufacturers.

Objective: Retain 70 percent or more of the active worldwide PC microprocessor market, according to Passmark’s CPU benchmark report.

Tactic: Through creative that underlies our messaging, leverage hardware partner brand awareness to include key messages about the Intel Inside program.

In this example, the suggested SOTs are among many that Intel could choose when pursuing the goal of making its PC microprocessors a category leader. Nowhere do you see anything about media, let alone social media. But if you did – and that would be because of the creation and pursuit of a sub-strategy – it would be nothing other than a tactic.

So why does any of this matter? Reggie Bradford, Oracle’s senior vice president of product development discusses this to some degree in Avi Savar’s brilliant new book, Content to Commerce: Engaging Consumers Across Paid, Owned, and Earned Channels. Bradford says there’s a mandate within corporate America for organizational change, particularly within the halls of marketing. In the book, Bradford discusses how he would approach building a marketing organization from the ground up, taking into consideration to necessity for social media play a more pervasive role at the tactical level:

I would use paid and other media to buttress the core social strategy:
Paid offers a way to amplify qualified, relevant content that is desired and welcomed with open arms by the consumer. Paid media strategies would be informed by what we learn about the brand’s audience through our consistent interaction with them on social, thereby maximizing the effect of every spend.

I would make social the fulcrum of my communications strategy: Social is how the modern consumer has grown accustomed to communicating. The social platforms are where they turn for discovery, research, peer-to-peer recommendation (a force far stronger than other influencers like advertising), and for follow-up customer service.

I would leverage owned channels first, then earned, then paid, followed by events and PR: As the foundation of my marketing strategy, I would put whatever financial and personnel resources were necessary toward fielding and operating world-class Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, Pinterest boards…whatever platforms are most appropriate for the brand.

(Excerpted with permission of the publisher, Wiley, Content to Commerce: Engaging Consumers Across Paid, Owned and Earned Channels by Avi Savar. Copyright 2013 by Avi Savar.)

Bradford, who serves on the board of directors of the Social Media Advertising Consortium and previously founded software-as-a-service (SaaS) play Vitrue – which he sold to Oracle for $300 million –  will be the first to tell you that in many marketing departments today, social is the enemy of “but this is the way we’ve always done it.” He writes that “comfort zones are being challenged,” and indicates that the ability to pivot and stay in sync with the way today’s consumers want to interact and conduct business “will be a significant determining factor in which enterprises survive and thrive.”

Hear, hear to that!

Taking Bradford’s thoughts a step further, those organizations that understand the G’SOT and social media’s place on it will be the ones best positioned to evolve at the same pace as the appearance of new and compelling tactics.