The title of this MIT Sloan Management and Deloitte study says what's needed — Strategy, not Technology, Drives Digital Transformation.
The 2015 Digital Business Global Executive Study and Research Project by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte "identifies strategy, not technology, as the key driver of success in the digital arena."
In general it found:
(T)hat maturing digital businesses are focused on integrating digital technologies, such as social, mobile, analytics and cloud, in the service of transforming how their businesses work. Less-mature digital businesses are focused on solving discrete business problems with individual digital technologies.
The conclusion is as true of the way organizations manage social media strategies as it is for the wholesale digital transformation of processes and business systems — strategy trumps technology, in this case social platforms.
In my social media classes at various universities and colleges, I have to talk about the mechanics of posting and engaging on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope etc., things like platform differentiation with respect to target audiences and behaviours and techniques for improving the use of the various tools ("How to Optimize Your Facebook Posts With Facebook Audience Insights").
These are some of the 'need-to-knows' for a digital practitioner.
But the technology nuts and bolts are like the focus on solving discrete business problems with individual digital technologies mentioned in this study.
They are not the knowledge backbone an organization needs to have a social program that works.
That's about theory — how social networks manoeuvre, flow and change; what influencers do in these networks; how influencers can be influenced; what makes content sharable; how social objectives map to specific business objectives; the dialectic between traditional media and social channels as pathways to information.
Solid digital theory generates mature strategies which lead to transformational social media programs, whether to sell a product, sway a constituency, or activate donors.