You Have to be SMART With Social Media

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There’s no denying it. There’s no hiding from it. There’s no escaping it. Social media is everywhere. And in some cases, social media can make or break a business. When was the last time you went to the little bar around the corner from your office? Not since an army of Yelp reviewers made sure of its 1.5/5 star rating. The power in the hands of consumers nowadays can be pretty scary stuff for a business.

It’s no wonder, then, that establishing a social media presence can be intimidating: social media gives your brand’s audience a voice that can be used for good or for evil, with their opinions communicated to virtually everybody who uses the Internet. Yet businesses these days have little choice but to put themselves out there on social media platforms. So the question is: How, as a business, do you tackle this task? The answer lies in simply doing something most of us do all the time: goal setting.

By now,  you may have heard of SMART goals and objectives. The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Agreed Upon, Realistic, and Timely. Seems pretty clear, right? Well, if you’re just delving into the big, cloudy world of social media, maybe not so much. In fact, it’s initially very difficult to visualize how those goals tie in to the grey zones of social media.

So, we’ve put together a little guide for you on how to tackle social media using SMART goals. (P.S. It’s not that intimidating after all).

1. Specific
What is it that you want to achieve with social media? If your goal is to increase brand followers, you’re not going to get very far. You need to make sure that your goal cannot be applied to anything other than social media and define your target audience. So, if your goal is to increase 18-25 year old fans on Facebook, you’ve specified. You’re on the right track.
2. Measurable
You’ve specified your goal to increase 18-25 year old fans on Facebook, but that’s still not enough. If you gain three new fans in the next two months, for example, your goal is technically reached. Not very satisfying, right? That’s why you should add a number to the equation. For example, increasing 18-25 year old fans on Facebook by 25% is a goal that is real, measurable and will motivate you. Use numbers or percents, and don’t be vague.
3. Agreed Upon
No matter how complete and achievable your goal or objective may seem to you, if your team cannot allocate enough time or resources, your shiny new plan will ultimately fail. You need to make sure that every member of your team about to tackle social media is fully aware of the goal, their responsibilities, and is ready to commit to them. It may also be a good idea to develop a social media policy, to ensure your brand standards and personality are maintained throughout all of your social media ventures. If you’re really ambitious, you may even want to establish a team of stakeholders to track all aspects of social media performance such as the one outlined in this article about social media governance on Marketo.
4. Realistic
This is the most difficult part of SMART goal setting: how do you know what’s realistic and what isn’t? We’re constantly seeing Youtube videos with 800,000 views, memes with 5,000 shares, and other bits of internet glory that get their 15 seconds of fame and a ridiculous number of viewers to boot. On the flip side of that, there are, of course, organizations that are struggling to get the minimal amount of attention they need in social media. It confuses you: do you aim high or do you aim low?
The first step to determining that is to analyze your current results. Choose the type of analysis that goes hand in hand with your goal. For example, if your objective is to increase the amount of 18-25 year old fans, determine how many fans in that age demographic you already have, and how long it took you to get those numbers. Hootsuite, for example, is an amazing tool for specified analysis. To maintain realistic goals and objectives, analyze your data as your SMART strategy moves along. Especially if you’re just starting out in social media, it’s important to note which parts of your strategy work and which parts fail. Adjust your efforts accordingly.
5. Timely
Don’t overwhelm yourself with an ambitious timeline. Remember that in social media, it can take 3-6 months to see the results of your toils. Set a timeline that excites you, but is realistic for  your team and your resources.

So there you have it: a small how-to for SMART goal-setting for social media. Still not sold on developing a social media plan? Like it or not, social media is an unmatchable way for you to bring more meaning to your brand. And it’s a terrific (and free) way to listen to what people are already saying about your brand. No matter who your target audience is, or if you’re marketing for B2C or B2B, social media is a powerful opportunity to connect with your audience in unprecedented and rewarding ways. However, social media won’t give you the results you want on its own. Without an empowered champion and some hard work (along with hits and misses along the way), social media is little more than noise and can even expose to risk. You can’t just throw things out there and hope for the best. It’s up to you to be SMART about your strategy.