World renowned author, professor, and psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (that’s fun to pronounce) said:
Goals transform a random walk into a chase.
Without goals, your time spent on social media can quickly become a random walk. Twitter has an infinite number of things you can waste your time on. Your goals will help focus your efforts toward creating the right kind of content and engaging in the right kind of conversations which move you in the direction that best benefits your organization. They turn what could easily seem to some like a random walk into an online chase.
Goals will look different for every organization and they will (should) change as you respond to industry changes and customer expectations. But I think there are 3 kinds of goals that you will always have.
I’ve listed numbers goals first because when I sold promotional products, it was the only thing my boss cared about when she saw me investing time in blog content or twitter conversations. I’m not saying that’s right, but I understand why numbers are important.
Some folks have impressive formulas to convince you that a certain number of Facebook fans will equal a particular increase in revenue percentage. I don’t have those. Most of the time, I can’t draw a straight line from a view on Facebook to a product sold any more than someone can determine the direct ROI of a billboard. But I do know that social media can help grow your customer list. When your customer list grows, so will your revenue.
I set weekly, monthly, and yearly numbers goals. So I’m constantly tracking interactions to see where it puts me in comparison with my goals. By tracking those numbers, I gain perspective. It helps me create better content and it keeps me thinking about new ways to hit my goals. This process also helps me know when my content isn’t connecting with people so that I can make necessary adjustments.
If you haven’t tracked your numbers before, here’s how you can start:
1. Begin with the hard facts about how many followers you have across each of your social media channels. Figure out and record the weekly average number of mentions, retweets, likes, post clicks, comments, pins, and all other interactions. I use Hootsuite to grab most of those numbers. Facebook has some really fantastic analytics built in. But I also use an old fashioned spreadsheet to track some numbers for Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.
2. Every Friday, asses your interactions from the previous week and record those in a running Google Spreadsheet or Excel document. It’s important to actually write those numbers down, even if (especially if) they hurt.
3. When you reach a month, do another assessment to find the weekly average for the last month. Do the same thing quarterly and then each year.
As you get familiar with your numbers, you’ll start to see what works. It will be easier to know how your audience responds to different kinds of content. You’ll recognize times of the day when followers are the most active online. When you know that stuff, you can tweak your content to reach and exceed your numbers goals.
In relation to numbers, I have a set of goals for instigating personal interactions each week. They are a constant reminder that two-way conversations build stronger connections and more committed followers. If you want people to become personally invested in your organization, you have to interact with them personally. Send private messages to your top 10 followers with a “thank you” discount on a product. Never let a comment go unanswered and follow through on your conversations.
You could also be a brand that doesn’t have to talk about themselves all the time. Let’s imagine that your organization’s social media was personified. Would that person only ever talk about how awesome they are? On a scale from 1 to Kanye West, how conceited would they be?
Listen to your followers and talk about what they want to talk about. Respond to what your followers are posting, even if it’s not about you or your product. Show that you’re listening to them and care about what they say, even when your brand isn’t the center of their conversation.
Every social media manager wants to see customer responses grow. It shows that your content is engaging and that people actual care enough to share their own thoughts. In my mind, responses are closer to the bottom of the sales funnel than numbers or personal interactions that you instigate. So they might be the easiest way to track a firm ROI on your social media.
My goals for responses fluctuate seasonally for my organization. When we have more events with more registration deadlines, my goals are a bit stronger and I build content with a more obvious call to action towards a direct sale. Outside of our event season, my goals for responses are more about maintaining attention. But both are significant and build on each other.
The goals you set today will determine what your organization becomes tomorrow.
That statement is so true, there’s no way it’s original to me. It’s a universal truth for every organization and every person. So build your goals intentionally and turn your random walk on social media into a chase toward the organization you want to become.