Determine the objectives before you begin any social media initiative.
26th March 2013

targetI recently had a conversation with a client who had hired a freelancer to manage their company?s social media initiative and when I say social media initiative i mean Facebook. As he explained to me that they had been posting regularly and were gaining "likes? regularly but it was not doing anything for the company. To this I asked a simple question, "What are the objectives of the social media initiative?". To his credit the client simply replied that there were no objectives, they were simply "doing social media?. Sadly this is a state in most companies who outsource their social media work.

Avoid the jargon and the false statistics - what is social media doing in real terms for your brand?

Most social media experts will show you charts and statistics of engagement and point to the number of "likes? on your pages but all that could simply be hogwash. What you really need to understand is has your social media initiative connected with your target audience (customers, employees, prospective customers) in a meaningful way.

So what is the outcome you are looking for? Meaningful conversations!

Now "meaningful? is also very subjective but I like to use the very simple metric - the conversation. Through your social media channels have you had a conversation with the target audience which helped them with any of the following:

  • Learn something new about your brand or company?
  • Sort out some difficulty or confusion regarding usage of your services or products
  • Received / Gave appreciation or feedback regarding your services or products
  • Pointed the person to the correct product or service in case you could not service them
  • Encouraged them with an idea or interesting concept.
  • Offered them special discounts or other incentives for using your products / services.

In other words, did that contact feel human, natural and fulfilling? Did it feel like a win-win for both parties involved? Did both walk away with something of value, even if its a very small thing?

Meaningful Conversations can only come from clear objectives - duh!

In order to have meaningful conversation you need to seed the social media platform with relevant posts or you need to be able to recognize a post which matches your objectives and then respond appropriately. In a nutshell you need to be laser focused on what you post and respond to on the social media platforms.

This can only come from clear objectives. This is at times very difficult and requires a lot of debate and discussion. It begins with a simple but honest question, "What do we really need from our social media initiative??. The answer to this question will dictate you actions. This question makes you think in real terms, measurable terms. It forces you to align the social media objectives to your broader business objectives.

Clear objectives help in the following ways.

  • What you will post on the social media websites
  • What tone and approach to use with the posts
  • Which conversations to engage and which ones to close quickly.
  • How to handle disgruntled visitors or manage a crisis.
  • Get a feel for the direction of the entire effort.

In the woozy world of social media measuring results is not easy.

Coming back to our initial point. Setting the objectives gives you clarity on what you post and how you respond. But do clear objectives help in measuring the response. What if your objective was, "To promote Brand A through the social channels by posting helpful content for our TA". How do you measure the efficacy of the initiative. After all most of the general statistics can be gamed and do not really tell the whole story.

Its more of a seat of the pants kind of thing. You need to review all the conversations on the platform over a certain period and judge the response patterns. You take specific cases samples and analyze them. Unfortunately its not an exact science but common sense can help a lot to know if your social media initiative is on track.


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