Setting goals for Social Media efforts

Get more leads! Close more deals! Grow my business!

These are the typical answers I hear when I ask small business owners what they hope to accomplish through their use of Social Media. I suspect, though, that they would have the same answer for just about any marketing investment I asked them about.

What do you hope to achieve by investing in social media, radio advertisting, paid search, attending networking events, running an workshop, building a new web site, renting an airplane banner at the beach?

When asking my tribe about what topics they’d like to see in a Social Media workshop for Small Business, my friend Adam (also a SEO and business intelligence guru) asked about setting goals for small businesses with respect to their use of Social Media.

Ultimately, people want to know what return their can expect on their investment. This is a big topic and one I’ve been listening to some smart people debate. Some of favorites are Erik Qualman’s post and video on Social Media ROI. Qualman asks, “What is the ROI on your phone?”.

Before I move on from ROI, I have to include Olivier Blanchard’s hysterical slideshare deck on Social Media ROI.

Blanchard’s presentation shows that there are lot of ways to use Social Media to drive and improve engagement. At the end of the day, that engagement will frequently drive sales and tangible returns.

But what happens in the middle with Social Media is a critical factor in deciding what kind of Social Media Strategy a small business should employ. A key factor in deciding which channels to use is the match between the business goals and the best uses of the channels chosen.

We put together a baker’s dozen of potential goals for a businesses Social Media strategy. These goals fall into 3 categories:

Knowledge-centric goals

are used to promote credibility and deepen a businesses’s knowledge.

Relational goals

are used to develop relationships with different constituents of a business.

Outcome Oriented goals

are ones in which Social Media is more directly tied to an outcome. These often have more of a fixed duration, a targeted message and a campaign structure.

Our framework is outlined below:

Social Media Channel Use

While detailing each of these “objectives” will take a bit more than I planned to spend on this blog post, I hope it provides you with an idea of how more specific objectives can be gleaned from a thoughtful conversation about Social Media strategy for your business.

It opens up the conversation about how you might use Social Media based on the unique signature of your business. For example:

  • a copier and printer business might be interested in how they can use Social Media to provide excellent Customer Service.
  • A software development company might want to share their Point of View on a new application framework, establishing themselves as thought leaders in the process.
  • A restaurant might be focused on promoting an upcoming event.

Every business may have multiple goals at different times in their business cycle. Social Media is a powerful amplifier and tool for creating a business that resonates with your marketplace. However, it is only a tool – and how you put it to use determines whether you have a “black hole” investment or a winning formula to grow your business.

This framework is a work in progress. What other goals and uses do you feel are missing from this “baker’s dozen”? Do you feel that any of these are more effective uses of Social Media than others? Let us know your thoughts!

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