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On David Bowie and social media strategy

13 Jul 2017

I was preparing for a presentation recently, and saw a connection between the skills required by today’s communication professionals (to develop strategies for a social audience) and David Bowie. Sounds like a bit of an oddity (pardon the terrible pun), but there is a link here.

A GIF produced by artist Helen Green in celebration of David Bowie’s 68th birthday became one of the most shared pieces on social media following his passing.

Titled Time may change me, this to me is a perfect analogy of the state of communications today (more so, social media) – it is ever evolving, ever changing, constantly reinventing itself to remain relevant to the masses.

Like Bowie, communication professionals need to embrace change, break away from notions foisted by years of schooled wisdom. It calls for developing skills in strategic creativity, adopting an authentic voice, understanding an organisation’s social and political dynamics, and demonstrating a great deal of agility and responsiveness.

Don’t fear about what others might think about your brand or organisation on social media (because they’re going to say it anyway). Be bold and be in front of the conversations, engage your audience in the spaces where they interact.

How do you develop a content strategy that resonates?

It begins with a plan

All strategies and marketing plans answer three foundation questions:

  1. What’s the purpose of this plan?
  2. Is there research to help us understand the communication challenge better?
  3. Who are we talking to and who should we be talking to?

It’s the same thing when developing a social media strategy. But there are differences that make each strategic approach unique. So what do we need to do to bring a social media strategy to life?


Carefully plan your implementation. Ask yourself, which channels are important, what tools should you use and what do you need to implement it.

  • Social media channels – You should choose channels that best fit your strategy and the objectives you want to achieve
  • Tone of voice– Choose a tone of voice that complements your strategy, audience and channel/s
  • Posting strategy– How often should you post? When should you post? What should you post, for example videos, photos, quotes, infographics, use of hashtags?


An often ‘forgotten’ step is to embed, maintain and improve your content strategy. Keep measuring your goals, make adjustments, edit or take a new direction.

  • Set a benchmark. After a week or two or even a month of sharing, go back through your stats and find the average number of clicks, shares, likes, and comments per post. This becomes your benchmark going forward. You can come back and update this number at any time as your following and influence grows.
  • Test something new. Do Twitter-optimised images gain more clicks than non-optimised images? Does capitalisation matter?
  • Did it work? Check the stats from your test versus the stats of your benchmark. If your test performed well, then you can implement the changes into the strategy. And once your test is over, find something new to test.

Wrap it up

Close off the project with a wrap up to your client on how the campaign fared. Add insights and key trends that would be of interest to the team. Things like 67% of followers asked this question. Make safe assumptions based on patterns you’ve observed, perhaps even analyse sentiment. Remember, clients look to analytics to determine ROI (which is another topic altogether), so the more thought you put into your analysis, the better.

Let’s recap

  • Determine your purpose and objectives of using social as a medium
  • Decide what channels are right to achieve your objectives
  • Design a posting strategy based on your current stats or analytics
  • Benchmark, test, rinse and repeat
  • Wrap it up with insights, put some thought to your analysis, make safe assumptions based on patterns you’ve observed.

At the end of the day, no matter which end of the social media maturity scale you’re at, be bold and be in front of the conversations, engage with your audiences in the spaces where they interact. The communication landscape is constantly reinventing itself but if you have your foundations right, you’ll ensure your brand remains relevant, and your voice is heard by the masses.

Just like Bowie.

Prem Vasudevan is the VP of Communications for the IABC Canberra Board.

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