About fifteen years ago, I needed a new car. A friend of mine had gotten a great deal from a certain dealership, so I decided to visit the same place to get the same great deal too! My objectives were to buy a car that 1) Gets me from point A to point B, 2) Is inexpensive, and 3) Gets good gas mileage. So, with those objectives in mind, I went to the dealership.
After spending three hours, and talking with multiple salespeople, I was on the verge of buying a truck. As I was about to sign the papers, I realized: 1) This is not a car 2) It’s not really that inexpensive 3) It gets terrible gas mileage.
I had completely lost track of my objectives once I was in a real world situation. I thanked the salespeople for their time, and walked out. They were surprised (and a little upset). One of them called me the next day, and asked me why I left abruptly. I told him I had lost sight of what I went there for in the first place.
With any marketing and sales program, it’s easy to get sucked in by one great story by a sales rep, or that one marketing lead that resulted in a huge sale. In social media, it’s even easier to start focusing on likes, video views, retweets and shares, and think that your program is being successful. It’s important to always remember what your objectives are though, so that you can provide value to your organization as well as your audience.
Determining your objective is the most important decision you can make with any initiative you are launching. Whether you are sending a single email, launching a social media program, or starting a new company. All decisions you make should be driving towards accomplishing your objective. So, when you launch, manage and optimize social media programs, it’s important to always have your objectives in mind.
I’ve run social media programs at multiple companies, and as part of the fantastic SocialMedia.org, I got the opportunity to talk with countless others who manage social media programs as well. It seems like the social team has a different objective at every company. Sometimes, it’s customer service. Sometimes, it’s awareness. Sometimes, it’s leads. Sometimes, it’s to simply have a presence. But that begs the question – what should your social media objectives be?
Simply put, your social media objectives should be the same as your overall business objectives.
Why is that?
The question that senior management will ask regardless of what your social media objectives are is: “how does this impact our business?” If your social media objectives are the same as your business objectives, think how much easier your conversations will be.
Imagine if your objective is customer service, and you are talking to your customer service team: “You’re trying to get closer to our customers to serve their needs better? Me too! Let’s team up!” Or, if your objective is sales and you are talking to the VP of sales, “You’re trying to get more prospects, leads and sales? So am I! Let’s partner!”
If the opposite is true, and your social media objectives are different than your business objectives, you will struggle to get content, you will struggle to get resources, you will simply struggle in general, and you will always feel like you are on an island.
Since your efforts will always be judged against the company’s business objectives, they need to be able to stack up by comparison. For example, if your company views social media as a marketing channel, then you need to be able to show the value that your social media program provides by tracking the leads it generates, and be able to compare them vs. email, display advertising and other marketing channels.
This means you need to measure your efforts end-to-end as much as possible. Take the time to do this upfront as it is much easier to set this kind of measurement up early in a program than it is to change the wheels on the bus as it’s going down the road.
How do you know if you are focusing on the right objectives?
If you are focusing on the right objectives and goals, they will be the same things that your boss and the C-suite are talking about on a regular basis. If you are talking about building engagement, your boss is talking about generating leads, and the C-suite is talking about bottom-line profit, I recommend you adjust your objectives as soon as possible.
If you are not sure what objectives your boss and the C-suite are looking for, then ask! Objectives will change over time as the management team and company focus shift, so don’t be afraid to adjust your objectives (plus your strategies and tactics) as a result.
- Your social media objectives should be the same as your business objectives
- Don’t get bogged-down in social media-specific metrics
- Be prepared to shift your objectives as your organization changes