Does this story sound familiar to you?
Your boss calls you in. She wants to know if all this social media marketing is accomplishing anything; if it is impacting your bottom line. Is it?
You know social media is very important in today’s world. You, or an entire team in your organization, have been investing your time and effort to make sure you’re regularly posting and sharing great content, following relevant people, tweeting and retweeting, pinning, liking, writing thoughtful blog posts and sharing your knowledge. On top of that, all of the constant changes on the various social platforms and new marketing tactics that you must learn to employ keep you incredibly busy. It’s easy to lose sight of why you’re doing it, and if it’s making a difference.
It’s very often the case that your social media activities are not closely tied to the larger purpose, vision, and overall goals and objectives of the organization. If we dive into social media without clear goals, we might not be prepared for that boss’s question.
Goal Setting Aligned with the Larger Purpose and Vision
How do you justify the investment and prove that yes, social media marketing is helping to contribute to your success? How do you plan your campaigns and goals so that they are in line with the larger purpose of your organization? How will you measure and prove your social media marketing efforts are valuable? You do this by creating a social media plan.
DragonSearch’s presentation at NMX in Las Vegas in January, 2014 will follow the same format as our workshop on how to create your social media strategy. In this post I will talk about the first steps in the process:
1. Understand Your Purpose and Vision
In his book, Social Marketology, Ric Dragon focuses on outlining a framework for creating a social media marketing strategy and process. As he describes the first step of the process, Ric dives into the importance of focusing on desired outcomes and how every social media activity needs to be tied back to the organization’s purpose, vision and goals. The purpose and vision are principles that guide and inspire your goals and objectives.
“… [vision, values, and mission] bring cohesiveness to business actions, provide teams with focus, and act as a heuristic or innate set of rules guiding bigger actions.”
“Values provide us with what I call passion points – things that our organization’s leadership and culture get behind passionately and that allow us to connect with people.
The importance of values becomes even more pronounced in social media marketing, where great agility is needed. The individuals working for a brand need a framework.”
“By having clearly articulated passion points, marketers can focus on communications that people will want to be a part of. In the process, the brand’s association with those values will be stronger, and the sense of brand personality will flourish.”
— Excerpt from Ric Dragon’s “Social Marketology” book.
Landscape of desired outcomes from Ric Dragon’s Social Marketology book.
2. Set Goals and Objectives
For anything you do in marketing, your first step should be to set your desired outcomes. Desired outcomes are your goals and objectives outlining the benefits or changes you aspire to achieve with your work. Setting goals and objectives for your social media activities should be based on the purpose and vision you identified in the first step in the process.
“We all know social media is changing marketing. We know it’s changing customer relations, product development, human resources, and other key areas. We know we need to be doing it. But we’re often unsure of the bigger picture, or how we’re going to create real sustaining value. In marketing in general, we need a clear understanding of what we want to accomplish. If we jump in and start activities without first tying them to organizational goals, we won’t even know when and if we’re succeeding.”
— Excerpt from Ric Dragon’s “Social Marketology” book.
Why Set Goals?
You could go ahead and start tweeting, Facebooking, and posting on all the social media platforms right now – and many organizations and individuals do just that. But how will you know what you achieved and if you were successful? How will you make decisions when situations arise if you don’t have that guiding light in front of you showing you the way? The only way to know is if we understand where we want to head and what results and benefits we want to achieve.
What Should be Your Social Media Marketing Goals?
At the end of the day we all have the same ultimate goal; to make money. But we also have a larger sense of purpose behind why we do what we do. It’s not only about the money.
This is especially true for social media. Why are you doing social media marketing? It should not be just about driving sales. If you approach it like that you will fail. People don’t care about what you want to sell to them. Your social media marketing should be about adding value for your customers.
Examples of Setting Goals & Objectives
Take inspiration from Ritz Carlton. Their purpose and passion is to “create indelible memories that last a lifetime” for their guests. Their social media goal is to deepen the engagement with current and potential customers and be central to storytelling in social media. In line with this, they can plan their micro-goals and objectives and then map metrics to measure their progress and success.
Example of mapping out your purpose, goals, objectives and metrics for social media
As a blogger your goal might be to establish yourself as an authority in your subject matter. Based on this you may set objectives, like writing well-researched blog posts and building up your following and engagement on social media.
As a next step you’ll want to focus on defining some metrics you will use to measure your success.
Use SMART Objectives
Setting SMART objectives will help you create realistic, measurable plans for achieving your goals.
I like the way the Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence Against Women and Girls uses the SMART criteria for setting campaign objectives and how closely it can apply to social media marketing:
“Specific” doesn’t imply “unchangeable”: As the campaign is unfolding, its different elements and the internal and external actors and factors influencing success need to be constantly monitored. Substantive positive or negative changes may make it necessary to adjust the objectives.
“Measurable” does not necessarily mean “quantifiable”: For example, in social campaigns aiming for behavior change, qualitative observation tends to provide a more accurate picture of the complex processes campaigns may contribute than numerical data.
Being “realistic” doesn’t mean being pessimistic: If a campaign is grounded in robust research, a clear idea should emerge as to what can and what cannot be achieved within the context and the resources available.
“Time-bound” is for planning purposes only: Time limits need to be adjusted as the campaign unfolds (see also above, “‘specific’ doesn’t imply ‘unchangeable’”).
3. Map Out Your Metrics
Map 3 to 5 metrics with milestones to each goal and objective. Measuring is very important so you can track your progress and know what is working and what is not.
Depending on your goals and objectives, metrics may be similar to the examples in the illustration above, i.e. number of comments on your blog, number of shares on Twitter, etc.
Excerpt from the Desired Outcomes Worksheet used in DragonSearch’s social media strategy workshops.
Quantity or Quality? How About Both?
Keep in mind that quality is just as important as quantity. As Patrick Lencioni quotes Jim Collins in his book: “qualitative field research is just as reliable as the quantitative kind, as long as clients and readers attest to its validity.”
How Do You Measure…
Not everything can be measured and some things are hard to measure. Social media allows us to have a direct relationship with our customers. But how do you measure those relationships in terms of ROI? How does owning your brand and messaging affect customer perceptions? What is the value in having an engaged audience? What can consumer loyalty and trust do for your brand? Brand awareness, loyalty, engagement all have tremendous value and are difficult to measure. However, with a well-planned and executed social media strategy, there are ways to map these metrics to your goals.
In his SMX Milan presentation about measuring social media ROI, Ric Dragon talked about a landscape of social media values.
Measuring will help you:
- See if you are on the right track to achieving your goals
- See if what you are doing is working
- Know when to adjust your strategy and how
- Know when you achieved your goal
- Justify your budget or position. Or even get you a raise
- Justify your investment into doing the great things that are hard to measure
Follow these 3 basic steps for setting your social media marketing goals, objectives and metrics and you will have the structure in place that will guide you through everyday tasks and help you make important decisions on next steps. Whether you work for a large company or are a blogger working for yourself, this approach will help you make the most of your social media efforts. Most importantly it will help tie your efforts into your big picture vision and purpose so you can achieve your desired outcomes.
What are Your Experiences and Approach?
Are you ready for that conversation with the boss now? What are some of your goals and how are you tying them into your larger purpose and vision? What metrics do you use to measure your progress?
Please share your experiences or ask any questions and I’ll do my best to help you get started.
Hope to see you at our presentation about creating a social media marketing strategy at NMX in Las Vegas.