We’ve all been on road trips before. Whether it was a summer vacation with family or a spring break trip with friends, there was always a destination of some sort. The destination may have been final or just a stop along the way. Either way, you had a pretty good idea of where you wanted to be and where you wanted to go.
Strategic marketing plans follow the same approach. Goals are set, benchmarks are aligned on and efforts are made to achieve both. So why do many marketers break the rules when it comes to social media? The reasons range from “we set it up as a toe dip in the social space” to “we don’t know what to measure” to even, “there was pressure internally to get started.”
Social media can and should be much more than an experiment for businesses. With time and money constantly strained, businesses should be able to articulate their social media goals and why they’re using it.
A trip without a plan or a destination in mind will result in a zigzag path, an empty gas tank and nothing to show for it. You won’t see what you wanted to see, you might get lost and, most importantly, you might not make it back home and get stuck along the way with an overheated van, no phone and a dead battery.
Planning Your Trip
You don’t know where you want to go unless you know where you’ve been. Whether an organization is just getting started using social media or has for some time without clear direction, it needs to evaluate its past efforts to see what its assets are and what can be leveraged for the future. From there, it’s time to determine where the organization will go.
The goals (destination) start at the root of the an organization. They start with the businesses objectives, short- and long-term. The short-term focus will allow you to prove success early on, but everything should be designed to build for long-term success. After all, social media has the ability to work with an overall marketing mix to achieve business objectives.
Generalities are not an option. The objectives need to be put in place with clear, tangible and measurable goals related to what the business can achieve. It’s essential that everyone in an organization understands what is trying to be achieved, not only so success can be proven but also so success isn’t determined by arbitrary factors down the road.
Objectives need to be aligned with indicators of success that will allow the organization to see if progress is being made toward the target. In the social space these might include the number of positive brand mentions online, the level of engagement with the organization’s content, how many people are following the organization in the social space and so on. These indicators need to ladder up to overall business objectives.
Planning Isn’t Glamorous, but It’s Worth It
Aligning goals with business objectives, setting realistic targets and knowing what metrics will help your organization measure success and which won’t offers a destination that organizations can plan around. When there’s something to plan around, the social media tactics that can contribute to achieving business objectives will have a cohesive thread, make sense and have a level of accountability that they wouldn’t have otherwise. In the end, this allows the organization to get to where it wants to go.