You know the drill. Just about every buddy cop movie shows the two characters performing the good cop bad cop routine. Parents have even been known to use this same strategy when seeking a confession from their children when they suspect foul play.
With good cop bad cop, one person approaches the suspect with empathy; they play nice. The other, however, pushes all the buttons, comes across as angry — possibly even a loose cannon capable of abuse, or at least capable of enacting very harsh penalties upon the suspect.
Good cop bad cop is a strategy — it outlines HOW these two people will approach a third and gives us a good sense of how to measure the desired impact in an overall and incremental way.
There is no script, per se, when two people approach a situation with a Good Cop Bad Cop strategy, but there is a very clear sense of how they will interact with this third person, aka the suspect, as well as how they will interact with one another.
This is exactly what I think is missing from most social media strategies: actual strategy.
How will you approach people? What impression would you like to have on others? What type of interaction would you like to proactively engage in? How will you react to certain key scenarios?
I know many others think this strategy stuff can be a sign of overthinking, but I disagree. I think many confuse planning with strategy alignment. If the high-level ideas of the strategy are clear, it can actually help vet tactics and inform others to realize that over-planning is unnecessary or even counter productive for your particular strategy… if it really is unnecessary :-) Bottom line: clear strategy alignment can actually increase your ability to move more quickly and take advantage of potential opportunities.
Outlining HOW we approach others and the type of conversations we would like to have actually helps save a lot of time discussing particular tactics or conversations with others in your organization over the long term. No one will ever remember every step of YOUR plan. Heck, I can even remember where I’m supposed to be in a given week much less what YOU’RE supposed to be doing and why.
Strategy not only should give you a clear sense of WHY you’re doing what you’re doing, but it should also give others reassurance that you indeed know what you’re doing even when it might seem otherwise. Anyone who thinks the purpose of every single conversation they could have online will have inherent value and purpose to every set of onlookers is sadly mistaken. To some who don’t know your strategy you may look like you’re wasting time — especially on social networks. Getting clear on your strategy and communicating it effectively will likely save you a lot of frustration.
How ‘Good Cop Bad Cop’ Adds Up to Strategy
Bad cop obviously breaks all the rules. No one would agree to the one-off tactics bad cop chooses to use during any interrogation process without understanding the strategy. Clearly, each tactic is in violation of some sort of policy.
Good cop tactics probably wouldn’t get approved either. On the surface, each of the tactics someone playing the role of “good cop” might use would look ridiculously ineffective. Think about it: Okay, so you’re going to get a confession out of this person by complimenting them and bringing them a coffee? Sounds crazy, eh?
My point here is when both good cop and bad cop tactics are aligned into a single strategy, everything starts to make sense.
However, when the tactics add up to a particular strategy, getting buy-in is much easier. I’ve noticed a lot of people are still struggling with buy-in… If you’re one of those people who are still frustrated that your company isn’t listening to conversations on Twitter. My advice to you is to start framing your tactic in terms of strategy. If everything adds up, buy-in shouldn’t be that difficult as long as you have the resources. But, be honest; does it really add up?
In case you’re in the mood for a quick laugh, here is a video of the Whose Line is it Anyway Team Riffing on the Good Cop Bad Cop Strategy:
I’m really not a fan of overthinking, but distilling your approach into something that is loaded with a lot of connotation like Good Cop Bad Cop, will help others stay on the same page with you without having to pull up your 30 page plan for reference. We all want others to recognize when we do a good job. Understanding the strategy helps them see good work as it unfolds (and saves them from having to digest a lot of antacid) — rather than waiting for the ROI report to come out at the end of the fiscal year. Besides, they have their own work to focus on.
Strategy helps us all stay on the same page without having to reference your plan on a daily basis.
I’m not saying you should use Good Cop Bad Cop as your social media strategy (although that might be interesting…), however, I am saying that we should aim to make our strategies as clear as this if we want executive buy-in AND extended support through the turbulent times that are sure to lie ahead.
Does this make sense?
Photo Credit: Genial23