Viren Sean Noronha on the four fundamentals of social media strategy

Viren Sean Noronha of The New Thing deconstructed the complexities often associated with social media strategy and provided a candid examination of what truly matters in social media planning and execution at the eighth edition of Social Samosa's SMLive.

Pranali Tawte
New Update
Viren Sean Noronha

A well-crafted strategy serves as the blueprint for how brands connect with their audiences, drive conversations, and ultimately achieve their business objectives. Without a clear plan, social media efforts can become disjointed, aimless, and inefficient, leading to wasted resources and missed opportunities. Viren Sean Noronha, Co-founder, The New Thing, deconstructed the conventional wisdom that often complicates social media planning, advocating for a paradigm shift towards simplicity and practical clarity. 

He challenged the industry’s reliance on intricate strategic models and data-heavy approaches, proposing a more straightforward and user-centric methodology that aligns closely with the actual dynamics of social media platforms and content creation.

Noronha's approach was rooted in the belief that social media strategy should be accessible and actionable, focusing on essential, fundamental questions rather than getting lost in elaborate constructs. His emphasis on realigning strategy with the basic principles of audience engagement and content effectiveness offered a fresh perspective, pushing for strategies that are intuitive and directly tied to the platform’s core functionalities and user behaviours. This new approach not only seeks to simplify the strategic process but also aims to make it more relevant and effective.

Dissecting the social strategy myth

“Strategy as we know it is dead,” opened Noronha with this assertion, challenging the prevailing approach to social media strategy. According to him, the traditional, academically rigorous approach—replete with data analytics, psychographics, and complex frameworks—is often more a hindrance than a help. Instead, he advocated for a more intuitive, user-centric perspective.

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“Approach strategy like someone who genuinely enjoys social media and uses platforms like Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube.” This shift from an analytical to a creator’s mindset, he argued, simplifies the process and makes it more effective.

Noronha’s key points on the pitfalls of current strategy practices were:

  • The 'strategist' is an outdated designation in agencies.

  • No one needs to know what they already know about their brand.

  • The strat and creative team combine decks, 2 hours before the pitch.

  • A strat deck takes 2x the bandwidth you could have spent creating, posting and learning.

  • You will NEVER go back to that strat deck after locking it.

Critiquing the typical process, he said, “You bring in a new client, prepare to create content, and suddenly, top management demands a strategy deck. This results in a week spent assembling a strategy and another week crafting a 45-55-slide deck. Meetings are delayed, and you feel like you’re pitching for the client all over again, and if you bomb it then again, you spend a week and the cycle repeats often ending in burnout.” This convoluted process, he argued, leads to minimal actual content creation and misaligned goals.

Social Strategy is pretentious; what it needs to be is simple.

Noronha asked agencies not to fall into the trap of believing that complexity equates to better strategy. He pointed out that there is a human tendency to add more elements when something doesn’t make sense or is unconvincing, rather than simplifying or refining it. He emphasised that this approach is misguided and counterproductive.

He distilled social media strategy into four essential questions:

  1. What are you trying to accomplish?

  2. Who are you trying to reach?

  3. What resources do you have?

  4. How will you measure success?

He said, “If you answer the first one, the fourth one is a very obvious answer. If you have a clear understanding of the second one, your content strategy is already in place. If you have a firm grasp of the third one and you're able to sort of present that to your clients or brand or team, whether you're an internal team or whether you're an agency pitching to a brand, you will have a clear understanding of how you're going to go about achieving goal number one.”

What are you trying to accomplish?

Noronha listed the steps to understand how to understand what the agency is trying to achieve:

  1. Goals are not obvious. 

  2. They are not a given

  3. Ask.

He urged clarity in goal-setting: “Ask everyone on your team what we’re trying to accomplish with this page. If 75-80% give different answers, that's a problem.” 

Bad goals sound like great goals. They sound like great goals, but they're actually bad goals. Great goals sound very simple in fact the minute you have a simple goal you already know what you need to do to achieve it.


He explained that goals should be simple and focused, not obscured by complexity. “If it sounds too simple, it’s probably right,” he noted, highlighting the need to concentrate on a singular, clear objective.

Who are you trying to reach?

Addressing audience targeting, Noronha emphasised that broad targeting dilutes the message: “When you try to speak to everyone, you speak to no one.” 

He explained that in organic social media, you cannot control who sees your content, so it's crucial to either clearly define your target audience or let them self-select based on the content you put out.

What resources do you have?

Noronha stressed the importance of aligning strategy with available resources.

Agencies are notorious for pitching ideas they know they can't pull off. These ideas are called pitch ideas, it's not a trade secret, we all try to pitch these ideas because we hate losing and nobody wants to say that they can't do something. No agency or brand team will say hey we can't do this but do you know the cost of winning?

He advocated for an honest assessment of team capabilities and strengths, cautioning against overpromising and under delivering.


He said “This is how it usually plays out. What you need to do is look at your team at a macro level and then micro level.”

Noronha advocated for picking up work on terms that align with a team’s strengths rather than saying yes to any opportunity that comes through the door. He warned against taking on projects that a team might struggle with due to misaligned skills, emphasising that while it may seem unusual to consider resources as part of a social media strategy, it’s crucial for effective execution. According to him, the team should be executing the strategy, not the other way around. He acknowledged the common hesitation to decline work but urged that if a team is not positioned to deliver effectively.

If you're not going to do a good job, don't do it. Or give it an honest try and say, ‘We're not good at this. Please, let's part ways.’

How will you measure success?

Metrics should be focused and meaningful. He explained that there is an endless supply of social media metrics if one goes looking for them, and it's easy to become overwhelmed trying to find and track every single metric.

“Choose a primary metric and measure everything, but focus on one key indicator,” he advised. 

Noronha illustrated this with examples:

  • The “Axe Your Ex” campaign for Tinder focused on mentions and tags related to users sharing photos without their exes.

  • “Voice of Hunger” for Swiggy tracked DMs and voice notes.

  • The recent “Thumbs Appa” campaign for Flipkart measured the usage of the thumbs-up emoji in response to content.

Having a clear understanding of what your primary metric is, is all you need to know. A lot of the times when you post a piece of content, you don't know whether you are chasing likes, comments or shares. 

Noronha’s insights at #SMLive 2024 serves as a clarion call for simplification in social media strategy. By focusing on straightforward goals, clear audience targeting, realistic resource assessments, and meaningful metrics, brands and agencies can navigate the social media landscape more effectively. 

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