The Two Most Important Questions in Social Media Marketing
Number one: What's your objective?
Number two: How are you going to measure it?
These two questions aren't revolutionary - they're among the first questions that should be asked at the start of planning for any new project. Yet they often seem to get left by the wayside, or at the very least poorly answered, when it comes to social media marketing projects.
Question #1 is pretty straightforward, though the answers are often anything but. Some days you get lucky, and the answer is clear and concise - "increase unaided brand awareness from 10% to 15%" or "drive 20% more traffic to our new landing page." All too often however the answer is either vague - "build buzz" - or confuses the objective with the means to achieve it - "get more fans and followers!"
Don't be afraid of "why?"
In the latter case, a quick "why?" is probably in order, as in "why do you want to get more fans and followers?" What actually matters to the project owner? Do they think having lots of fans and followers is a means to getting more traffic for their web site? If so, consider resetting the objective to that, and later in your planning process evaluate building fans/followers as one of many possible tactics to achieve it.
Measurement can clarify the issue
If the response to "what's your objective" was clear and concise, "how are you going to measure it" has been largely answered. Now you can get down to the details of which measurement tools you'll use and who's accountable for tracking and reporting.
But if the stated objective is vague or confusing, then asking "how are you going to measure it?" can be incredibly liberating. It focuses the conversation around what really matters to the project owner - "buzz" for example might mean getting lots of social media mentions to lay the groundwork for a glitzy new PR and ad campaign. It might mean getting lots of positive blog posts pointing to a new landing page. Or it might mean inspiring a bunch of product reviews on all the right recommendation and e-commerce sites to influence future purchase decisions.
Who knows unless you ask, and you're setting yourself up for failure if you don't.
By asking "how do you measure it?" you force the project owner to cut through the fluffy vagueness of "awareness" "buzz" or "education" and get down to what's actually important, what the real business objective is. And by arriving at common agreement on the actual, concrete objective and exactly how and what you're going to measure, you've helped ensure the strategy and tactics you generate are driving to the correct goal right from the start.
For some great posts on the topic of social media measurement as it relates to goal setting, I recommend starting with the The Practical Social Media Measurement Series by Amber Naslund of Radian6.
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