In dance, there are roughly two types of choreography:

  • improvisational, where a choreographer provides dancers with a score or general guidelines for improvised movement and form. An example might be  a score that directs one dancer to withdraw from another dancer, who in turn is directed to avoid the withdrawal,  as in contra dance choreography. Improvisational scores typically offer wide latitude for personal interpretation by the dancer.
  • planned , where a choreographer dictates motion and form in detail, leaving little or no opportunity for the dancer to exercise personal interpretation.

Social media marketing is more improvisational than planned.

It’s struck me that, with the addition of social media marketing tools and environments  to the marketing mix, we marketers have  the opportunity to be more improvisational.  Indeed, I believe we have the obligation to be more free form, as the social media element of marketing is more participatory than marketing and business have ever been, and thus demanding that we be more flexible and fluid.

With social media marketing,  we need to listen and respond much more dynamically than ever before.

So, strategy is dead.

Absolutely not.  In fact strategy – true strategy – is more important than ever.  How often have we toiled in situations where short-term tactical plans were dubbed “strategies”?  Social media marketing, by its very nature, requires long-term, strategic thinking. (Read Mitch Joel’s Six Degrees of Separation for a succinct and crystal clear manifesto on the “why” of connectedness.)  We need to have the end in mind – but we need to interpret how we engage – and withdraw – almost on the spot.

Just like in dance, we need a choreography in social media marketing – an overarching goal, and an effect or purpose we’re striving for.

It’s just that, with social media marketing, we can and should be more improvisational and less rigidly planned.  Defining the  steps to get there is more collaborative, more fluid… more free.

Here’s a fun example of improv dances based on suggestions from The Velvety Bag on the Jimmy Fallon show.  Note the recognizable dance steps overlaid with the spontaneous moves designed to tell the story.