The more we look around the current tech landscape, the more we see examples of just how important a strategic narrative is in differentiating yourself from the crowd. Take, for instance, the latest controversy surrounding Facebook and its “fake news” problem. Facebook has long positioned itself as a data collection company masquerading as a social networking organization. However, with its move into live broadcasting and, apparently, news curation, it’s clear that the company has moved into the realm of being a surprisingly traditional media organization.
For a company with the size and seeming ubiquity of Facebook, it now has the opportunity to do what Twitter and other “social media” platforms have failed to do: create and define a category behind the strength of a positioning strategic narrative.
In Facebook’s case, as it worked to develop an industry strategic narrative, it would be best suited to begin by eliminating all “we” statements that attempt to define or state what “we” do or offer – statements that steer the company downward and inward. Rather, it would look outward at the industry at-large: what is it lacking? Which spaces need to be filled? What are the consumers demanding right now, and what will they be demanding in the future? Which problems facing these converging industries need to be solved immediately and down the road?
Fortunately for Facebook, the social media industry is already convoluted and ill-defined. Looking at other stalwart companies like Twitter or LinkedIn, which offer unique features but not necessarily unique long-term visions, there are plenty of opportunities to position off of these seemingly constantly morphing narratives. Facebook could look to modify the existing social media category if it wanted to plant a flag in the ground. It could also consider mashing together a few different categories that encompass all of the various elements that these platforms offer: media, networking, communication, lifestyle, thought leadership, etc.
Most likely, given the unrestrained growth potential we see on a near daily basis for Facebook, it would probably be best served to create its own category that not only enables it to own the current scope of its function, but future scope as well.
Now, Facebook is an extreme example, but as a high-level case study, the basic point lies in the fact that if you asked a group a 20 people what kind of a company it is, you’d likely get a number of different answers. To the average user, it’s a networking platform, a news curating service and something of a public diary. To a marketing professional, it’s a data collection, analytics and intelligence platform. To a celebrity or company, it’s a brand-building and amplification tool.
With this in mind, think about your company. Does your narrative fit not only your current ethos, but allow for future growth as well? If you asked your leadership what kind of company it is, would you get the same answer across the board, or several different answers? Regardless of the answer, the chances are high that the company is in a position to exercise industry leadership by either developing a new category, or working on a stronger narrative to own the one in which you currently operate.