Business Goals are the Cornerstone of a Social Media Strategy

In preparation for our next Social Media Marketing Bootcamp in Vancouver on May 27, I'm beefing-up a section of the workshop on setting business objectives and why they must be the cornerstone of any social media strategy. I thought I'd share some of my thoughts here one the blog. Strategy Starts with a Goal The temptation is to start with tools -- Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. But the tools are just a means to an end. To build a solid strategy marketers need to ask this tough question: What business goals do I want to achieve? Finding the answer is a lot harder (and usually less fun) than setting up a Facebook page or tweeting. But, it's where a social media strategy begins. Once you've articulated program goals you can choose the online tools that will help you achieve them. So you want to increase sales? What social media tool is going to be most effective for reaching your audience and making it easy for them to buy? What role can Facebook play in collecting petition signatures for your not-for-profit? If raising money for a capital campaign is the goal, then perhaps a special microsite for that campaign is the way to go. Once your goals are set, choosing which online tools and tactics to use will become much clearer.

Don't Lose Your Marketer's Mind Some marketers are intimidated by social media technology. That's why so many seasoned pros make the mistake of handing social media completely over to an intern or recent college grad. While the tech may be foreign, all the marketing knowledge you've gained in the trenches should be applied to social media too. Audience analysis, messaging, branding and crisis communication are sophisticated skills that, married with the tools, will help online programs succeed. So, bring your A game to social media, just as you would a communications or PR plan. Junior employees can look after execution but only after you've done the heavy lifting.

Measuring Success The question of measurement is a hot topic and is top of mind for many Bootcamp attendees. "How do we know if this stuff is working?" is a great question, especially if you're putting budget and resources into social media programs. Putting expensive monitoring tools in place and generating reports is a waste of time and money if you don't know what you're measuring. Here's a measurement rule of thumb. You're succeeding if social media activities are meeting your business objectives. If "increasing sales" is a business objective then having 10,000 Twitter followers is not a success if they never buy from you. On the other hand, if you want to improve customer service and are able to reduce telephone wait times by answering some incoming questions on Twitter, then that's a success.

If you want to learn more about setting business objectives for social media, please join us at Social Media Marketing Bootcamp on May 27th.