When it comes to developing a comprehensive, effective and profitable social media strategy, you’ve probably already heard that objectives matter. There is no arguing with the fact that objectives are key to maximizing your outcomes, including optimizing your ROI but what does that really mean?
The definition of objectives in the online marketing game are goals like:
- get x amount more traffic
- get x amount of social media followers
- increase conversion rates
The problem with setting objectives for a social media marketing strategy is that it can be hard to pin down clear, precise goals.
You can go out and get more traffic, sure, but what kind of traffic do you want? How do you, or should you quantify the quality of that traffic? Who are they and how likely are your audience likely to respond to your content – and ultimately how many of them will convert to customers.
If you say you want more engagement, what does that mean exactly? Metrics like “engagement” can be challenging to quantify clearly. So, how can you set specific objectives that will lead to maximizing your outcomes (profit)?
Let’s break it down:
When setting objectives for your profitable social media marketing campaigns, it can be advantageous to use the SMART goals framework, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. The SMART goals framework is among the most popular goal-setting methods for businesses, and it also quite effective. It is easy to understand, act on, track, and follow up with.
I personally consider this framework a secondary step. Research and knowing exactly who your potential market is, where they “hang out”, how they search for it, what problems they have and want to solve, what they are scared of….and a whole lot more considerations are the first step before setting marketing objectives.
I don’t know about you, but don’t enjoy wasting time and resources unnecessarily. I’d much rather spend my time doing my homework first, so I can focus on the 10 – 20% of people in my “market” who are ready and willing to let me to help them get what they want. Or at least could be keen, if I do my job right and earn their trust first, before asking them to buy from me.
So what are the key elements of SMART goals:
Specific: Your goal should be clear and well defined and should have specific parameters. The more specific it is, the easier it will be to effectively allocate the necessary time and resources to accomplish it. Think about the who, the what, the why, and the how of your goal. For example, “I want to grow our Twitter’s following by 500 people by the end of February 2017 in order to increase our brand visibility by developing and adhering to a more specific posting schedule” is a specific goal. It specifies the who (the brand), the what (increase the Twitter following by 500), the why (to improve brand visibility), and the how (by developing and adhering to a more specific schedule). The person responsible for carrying out the goal clearly knows what needs to be done to achieve the goal and why the goal is meaningful. You can add to this the profile of the audience you want to market to.
There is no point in attracting 500 followers who aren’t interested or likely to buy. What do your buyers look like, what do they want, what are they interested in. It will save the person who is doing the work a HUGE amount of time and confusion if the have a crystal clear idea of where to go hunting for the types of people who fit your customer profile. They can’t do that unless they have a profile to refer to right!
Measurable: Ideally, your goal should be measurable in some way. Of course, some metrics are easier to measure and track than others. If you do have a goal linked to a difficult-to-measure metric, it is a wise idea to link it to a few proxy metrics. For example, if your goal is to improve engagement on Instagram, engagement in and of itself can’t easily be quantified. But it is easy to measure engagement via proxy metrics, like number of likes, number of shares, and number of comments. So, you might set a goal like, “I want to improve engagement rates on Instagram by increasing the number of daily likes and comments our content receives by 10 percent.”
Attainable: Your goal needs to be realistic. You won’t be able to accrue 1,000 new followers on your Facebook account overnight, but you might be able to do so in a few weeks. No matter the goal you choose, you need to make sure that it is relevant. However, you don’t want your goal to be too attainable. Ideally, you want to be hitting the sweet spot between low pressure and anxiety inducing. Meeting your goal should be tough enough to cause some stress, but it shouldn’t be so challenging that it’s causing panic attacks.
Relevant: There are a number of different types of objectives for social media marketing. These objectives include:
- Activity-based goals: Activity-based goals typically relate to making an effort to engage in a specific activity on social media. For example, you might set the goal of posting one video per week on Facebook or aim to publish three blog posts per week.
- Audience-building goals: Audience-building goals relate to expanding your audience by increasing your number of followers and improving the reach of your content.
- Engagement goals: Engagement goals are all about improving the quantity and quality of interaction with your content. Ways to improve engagement include getting more likes and comments, and having your content shared more frequently.
- ROI goals: ROI goals are all about making your social media dollars stretch further.
No matter which type of objectives you choose, your goal needs to be somehow relevant to your business objectives. In other words, it somehow needs to tie into your goals, vision, and values. Of course, this means having a robust understanding of your business and thinking hard about how social media can improve your business.
Time-bound: All great goals have deadlines. When setting timelines, think about the complexity of the goal, and set a deadline accordingly. For goals that are quite complex, in can be advantageous to break down the larger deadline into smaller milestones. For example, to attain a 20 percent increase in followers within six months, there are a number things you will likely need to do, including tailoring your content more effectively to your audience, posting more frequently, and reaching out to influencers. You might develop milestones that you will need to reach in pursuit of your overarching goal. For example, perhaps within a month, you will have completed more target audience research to understand your audience’s content preferences better, and within six weeks, you will have developed content ideas and a content strategy within this new research in mind. Large goals can seem daunting, but when they are broken down into smaller, more manageable goals, progress seems much more attainable.
The bottom line is that in order to ensure you are maximizing your outcomes, you absolutely need to set objectives. It doesn’t necessarily matter which of the aforementioned objective-setting strategies you use, as long as you set clearly defined, realistic, and easily measurable objectives that can be used to gauge your progress.
Learn more about choosing Marketing Objectives – What You Want to Achieve for your Business With Digital Marketing in Lesson 3 of our Ultimate Digital Marketing Course.
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