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Do You Know Your Social Media Goals?

January 21, 2010

Ok, so you’ve been tweeting, facebooking, and hammering out status updates at a break neck speed. With all those hours spent in front of a computer talking to friends, colleagues, current and prospective clients and other trendsetters what do you have to show for your work? Was it really worth it? Were you crazy when you thought Facebook and twitter could actually drive sales?

With all the buzz surrounding social media and companies like Dell, Best Buy and others showing millions in profits from campaigns it’s easy to think that anyone can make social media pay out. A lot of companies have branched out and started to tweet, facebook, upload photos to flickr, or create a LinkedIn profile in hopes for some return to the bottom line. I hear both sides of the argument for social media building business and the first thing I ask people when they say, “I haven’t really seen a return with my social media ventures.” is…

What’s your goal?

Social media is no different than any other type of advertising or sales building tool in the sense that you need an overall goal before you set out on a campaign. When you launch a campaign with too broad of a goal you’ll always hit your target. It’s extremely important to lay out your expectations on the front end and make sure you have a clear plan to achieve results. Whether you’re looking to expand your brand, build your network, reach potential clients, maintain relationships, or build sales with a strong online presence you still need a plan to achieve the desired outcome. You can blog, tweet, upload, and update until your hearts content but lacking an overall strategy will leave you with a bunch of information you’re not quite sure how to process.

Companies who successfully use social media as a business tool always have specific ideas in mind before they implement their new strategies. Companies like Comcast and Southwest Airlines have used Twitter to trouble shoot PR and customer service issues. It’s clean, simple, and effective. They don’t try to promote sales, promos or products on these sites. Rather they are focused on one goal; keep customers happy and trouble shoot any issues that arise.

comcast

Other companies like McDonalds and Outback Steakhouse have amazing and very pricey facebook pages that were built to expand the companies reach, and build brand awareness on a different scale than a traditional website. Very effective and simple while costly these sites generate invaluable demographic information and allow the companies to use the sites widgets to build email lists, promote menu items, new restaurants and so on. You’ll notice the customer interaction on theses sites is minimal since they were never intended to be used as a 2-way communications tool.

mcd

Numerous salons and spas started using flickr the past few years to show off their amazing amenities and cutting edge styling techniques. Rather than spend thousands in print advertising a nice digital SLR and some time uploading images will show your potential customers what you have to offer. Done properly these sites can generate a lot of buzz and drive sales for a minimal investment. Again, on here you will not find companies building email lists, promoting launches or troubleshooting customer service issues. Most use flickr as a window for customers to take a peak right into their businesses and see what they have to offer. It’s cheap, easy and effective and done properly will bring results.

flikr

The companies above have separate campaigns built around branding, customer service and sales, but they do not try to accomplish all of their goals with one crusade. While a one trick pony is possible and one page could house all of your pictures, promos, company information and customers service contacts that’s typically a job reserved your website. That’s where most businesses get it wrong. Social media sites aren’t extensions of your website and people don’t want to see all of that content in their face while they browse facebook, twitter and so on. If they wanted to see your site they’d visit it, and from your hits per day count you and I both know that’s not happening.

A specialized site allows businesses to target a certain group of current/potential customers, and build awareness on a much more relaxed and targeted platform. The companies above are a few good examples of how to target your social media campaigns to achieve a specific goal.  Once you lay out a plan choose what platform works best for you. Make sure you keep in mind your overall goal and see where this new formula takes you.

I promise in 3 months time you won’t say, “I haven’t seen a return with my social media ventures.”

Good luck.

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