The past few days, I’ve been talking about the need to establish solid goals around which to build you social media efforts. We’ve looked at why you need to have goals , we’ve explored the three categories of goals to help set the foundation for your efforts and we’ve talked about breaking your primary goals into supportive goals.
Now it’s time to dig even deeper and start learning how to attach tactics to our goals. After all, a goal you have no way to reach is useless. It’s when you begin to have a solid enough understanding of the many ways to leverage both social media as a whole and the individual social media outlets that you can begin using those goals to create action plans.
Begin by Reviewing Your Supportive Goals
As you know from my article on supportive goals, it’s important to take broad goals and break them down into smaller ones. This helps you gain more perspective on the various ways you might leverage social media. It can be overwhelming to sit down and figure out how to use social media to “increase sales.” It’s a lot easier to sit down and figure out how to use it to “increase average order size” or “clear excess inventory quickly.”
For this stage of your strategy, you need to start with your primary and supportive goals.
As you can see from the example above, we’re working from a primary goal of “Building a Reputation as Experts.” That’s a fairly tall order, but once we start to break it down into a supportive goals, it begins to make a bit more sense. In this instance, we’ve decided to focus on four key areas.
- Establish a Blog Home Base – We’ll want to have a central clearing house on the social web to share information, allow for comments and conversation and generally build a repository of expert information. The blog is the most natural location for this.
- Approach MSM online – As we begin to build these resources, we’ll need to make sure we’re notifying trusted influencers of the information. Pitching the data from new studies or tests to the main stream media and respected bloggers will help boost our reputation by serving as a source.
- Generate link-worthy content – It’s not enough to simply gain coverage and mention from influencers, we want to make sure the content we’re creating is so valuable, people will link their readers to it for additional information. This will help boost credibility in the eyes of both search engines and individuals.
- Enable content distribution channels – These days, people receive their information from a variety of sources. Producing good content that can’t be found does no good. Enabling distribution via RSS feed, email subscription, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sources allows both consumers and influencers to receive the information in the manner they prefer. This enables faster, stronger spread.
Assign Tactics to Supportive Goals
As you can see, breaking that top level goal down into four smaller goals has already gone a long way toward helping us build our plan. We now have solid goals that we can easily begin to tie tactics to. This is the point at which we take each of our supportive goals and ask ourselves how we use the web and social media to achieve them.
Think of this process like a road map. If you’re driving from Cleveland, Ohio to Sacramento, California it makes perfect sense to take I-80 across the country. That said, you still have to figure out how to get from your house to the highway. That’s exactly what we’re doing here as we walk through each of these steps. We’re helping you figure out the best way to get on board and get moving.
Is This Extra Work Really Necessary?
While experienced marketers may be able to run through these steps automatically without taking the time to map them out, most people will be far more successful if they take the time to follow a process that gently leads them down the path of a solid social media plan.
Most of the time when I lead clients through this process, they tell me how much easier it makes it for them to fully understand what we’re looking to do and how we’ll be getting there. From the agency side, this process make it much easier for us to set concrete goals and to track them.
If we’re not seeing quite the results we want in terms of new links, it’s easy enough to go back through our plan and look at the content creation and outreach goals we set. We might read through it and say “oh, we forgot to install Tweet Meme” or “we’ve enabled all types of social sharing except Facebook Connect, let’s explore that and see if sharing increases.”
Remember, creativity may sit at the core of any social media outreach effort, but structure and planning are what build the foundation.