Social Media Goals
Recently, I was at a friend’s place and loved the sofa set they had and I’ve been in the market for one for the last couple of year. As soon as I got back home, I looked up the website of the store and found the set I was looking for. But, guess what? They didn’t have online shopping!
Now this store (http://lifestylestores.com) has a separate domain name for it’s furnishing department (http://www.homecentrestores.com/), different Facebook accounts even, but no way to order online or even over phone. What then, must their aim be in managing Facebook and twitter accounts and even a blog?
It is an expensive affair to keep these things going – not only in terms of money spent on acquiring and publicizing the content, but also in terms of time and effort in coming up with content and ways to make the most of it. That their Youtube channel is no longer available tells you a story of its own.
This is clearly a case of “me too”. You, as a brand are on Social Media platforms because, well, how can you not be. You “should” have a Facebook account. And when has succumbing to a “should” ever ended well?
Having these accounts are certainly not ends in themselves. It is absolutely imperative to be on social media platforms, of course, but its important to know why we are here.
Why do brands need social media goals?
Let’s go back to the basics. Why do we have goals for anything that we do? The obvious reasons that pop at us are, so that we can –
- make a roadmap for how to get there,
- make sure we are on track,
- measure how well we are doing what we are doing,
- decide if what we are doing is serving its purpose or not, monetarily and otherwise.
The same reasons apply to having social media goals too. Except that social media is a whole different animal which needs its own subset of goals that tie in with your overall marketing goal. It boils down to the parameters which are different for social media compared to your other marketing efforts.
Spoilt for options
There are way too many platforms out there and a dime a dozen new ones with every passing week. It is so easy to get distracted, and waste efforts by spreading yourself thin over all the mediums available. At the same time, it is difficult to guess which one will work for you. The cherry on the cake of your social media concerns is the customer is spoilt for options too. Pre-determined, specific goals will involve deep research on where your customers are and how you should reach out to them.
It’s all about the timing
Have you seen how fast your twitter feed scrolls if you are following even 100 real, good accounts? And people are following thousands. Same goes for “liked” Facebook pages or the Quora topics one follows. A lot of social media content has to be real-time. Sometimes, you don’t have time to think and have to be up-to-speed with current events. While a delayed response to a complaint, as experienced by British Airways, led to a #Fail (https://econsultancy.com/blog/63352-are-you-heading-for-a-social-customer-service-fail#i.weq1g812cxemby), a mistimed one by the National Rifle Association wishing an innocent good morning to shooters around the time of a mass-shooting in Aurora, Colorado could be another version of #EpicFail
You have to be on your toes or your social media effort will fall on its face if you don’t know where you are headed. From understanding the need to have a 24/7 attention to being aware of events around to just being smart/witty enough to grab your followers’ short attention span – you need very specific goals.
Everyone is learning, everyone is making mistakes
To be fair, the concept of social media as a marketing tool is a fairly new one. So, there aren’t enough precedents for what works and what doesn’t. It doesn’t help that the arena is constantly changing. There are new players and what’s more new rules. Some campaigns are bound to misfire if not backfire like this McDonald’s campaign with the hashtag #McDStories. All sorts of horrific stories about the fast food chain made their way into what must have seemed like a wonderful idea on paper. (http://www.businessinsider.com/mcdonalds-twitter-campaign-goes-horribly-wrong-mcdstories-2012-1?IR=T)
Does that mean we fear social media and stay away from it? Naah! Of course not, we have damage control ideas handy and think our strategy through. We don’t lose sight of our final target, whatever that is.
It is undeniable that your social media efforts are increasingly becoming an important sales channel. This directly ties in with your bottom line, your company’s financial goals. Needless to say, like any other sales channel, it is important to have goals for this online channel too meaning social media goals.
No longer is your customer just a consumer of your marketing efforts. It’s not just left to your hoardings and TV commercials to create a brand that sticks in your customer’s mind. In fact, the river might flow upstream. A customer might have had a bad experience, and might vent on one of the platforms. And you have to be around to appease him. Here comes, the goal of being there to keep track of the “quality” of mentions you have on the said platform. For suddenly, the whole world has become your customer complaint center.
On the other hand, it is a lot more effort to create goodwill. You have to be cognizant of the fact, that not only are people more liberal with their complaints than their compliments, negative remarks get shared more than positive ones.
But this is your opportunity to engage and build a relationship with your customer. Depending on your temperament, you could either hit the nail on its head and pacify a customer like the airline company, KLM routinely does (https://www.facebook.com/KLM/posts/10152327411485773) or you could completely lose it and becoming the laughing stock of the world like Amy’s Baking Company did. (http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/this-is-the-most-epic-brand-meltdown-on-facebook-ever#28awl2z)
Whether or not you like it, your customers are participating in your marketing strategy. It is only in your interest to make sure you know how to make the most of it. The only logical beginning is setting up SMART goals.
It’s screaming, “measure me”
Why should you have a social media goal? Because you can actually, tangibly measure it! This characteristic of social media is what marketing has been trying to achieve since its inception. How do you test the effectiveness of a newspaper ad or a publicity campaign? Not an easy answer to that one. But social media attempts are so easy to gauge through numbers – likes, favorites, upvotes, and so on.
One size doesn’t fit all
What applies to an accounting firm will not apply to an online grocery store which will be very different from what applies to a movie. You have to have very specific goals set for your product or service. A cookie cutter solution will only give you half-baked results and they are as good as no results at all. You have to be creative in your usage of social media to use it to your advantage.
Customer is not only a king, he’s a smart king
With all the exposure in the world, the customer is getting smarter and better informed by the day. If you don’t have a focused plan for your social media efforts, they can see through. If you are making a superficial effort at keeping them engaged, they will lose interest. In fact, your offline marketing efforts have to take into account what your customers are learning about you online. The importance of a unified, holistic approach to marketing cannot be over-emphasized now.
The fact is that social media isn’t going anywhere any time soon. The form and platform will change, the usage and format within each platform will change with evolving and new features. But, with the constantly changing environment, social media goals need to be checked so that we don’t run around like a headless chicken.