Translating Business Objectives into Social Media Objectives

This month, my Social Media MBA students are working on a project that involves a website, blog, and multiple peripheral social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. The objective of this project is to give them a virtual sandbox of sorts to put into action what they have learned in my previous two social media courses. The project involves creating a social media strategy from the ground up. Quite a challenge with the limited amount of time in a semester. However, they are moving right along and will pass the torch so to speak when their course ends.

The first hurdle we faced this term was setting goals and objectives that accurately addressed our vision and mission. This is often the case for many businesses. Initial goals and objectives are either too broad, not specific enough, or not measurable. Once we clearly defined our business objectives, the social strategy fell into place.

Regardless of the type of new business venture, organizations should evaluate their business objectives, strategies, and tactics beforehand. The world of social media is no different. Each organization is unique, and their approaches to social media strategy will vary according to set business objectives.

Before undertaking any type of social media initiative, an organization must begin with identifying objectives and then coordinating social media activities that address those objectives specifically. Most readers would choose to utilize social media to ‘increase sales’ armed only with an arsenal of tactics such as start a contest on Facebook, develop a blog with postings weekly; set up related Twitter feed. These actions in and of themselves are fine and could very well increase sales. However, what about the long term?

A viable social media strategy should start with these basic questions:

* Who? Who is your target audience, where are they online, how can you reach them?
* What? What are your primary objectives? These could be building brand awareness, building online credibility, providing education about your brand; increase sales. Again, these tie back in to the overall organizational objectives.
* When? When will you evaluate the social strategy, and how will you evaluate it? Often organizations have no real set time-frame in which to assess objectives to ascertain if they are on target or if plans need to be re-evaluated or possibly revamped.
* Where? Where does the social strategy fit into the overall business? When utilizing such tools as Twitter and Facebook, brands are realizing that social media sites can provide support for not only the marketing and sales departments, but can also assist with educational endeavors, public relations, and even customer care. A social strategy often spans over different departments and objectives should be formulated accordingly.
* Which? Which employees/departments will oversee social media, be responsible for posting, and reporting?
* How? How will you differentiate yourself from the competition? Identify your competitors strengths and weaknesses as well as your own, this will help in planning your social strategy.

A key concept for business to understand is that a large portion of Internet traffic still comes from searches, and mobile use for these searches will soon exceed those done via personal computer! Read the entire article on Maximize Social Business.

Guest Post: 5 Reasons to Hire a Social Media Marketing Professional

AslanMedia / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Strong marketing is essential to business growth. With a good marketing plan your business can reach more customers, make more sales, increase its cash flow and generally achieve more success within your industry. One important aspect of your marketing plan is your social media presence, which is no longer optional in this increasingly digital world. With a well-crafted social media strategy you can nicely complement an existing plan and bring a larger customer base to your business. You can also use social media to interact with existing customers, increasing the likelihood of return customers. If you want to implement or improve your social media presence, it pays to hire a social media marketing professional for a number of reasons.

1. Increased Traffic

One huge benefit of increasing your social media presence is an increase in traffic to your website or other online assets. A tweet linking back to your website can draw customers who may engage with your brand and possibly purchase. Sharing an image of a product on Instagram with a link back to your site can bring customers to inquire and possibly purchase. No matter which sites your company uses, a social media expert can make the most of your online presence and increase website traffic.

2. Brand Continuity

When you don’t have a social media professional on your staff, you might have different folks managing each social media site you belong to. This means each profile probably looks different, the content shared is inconsistent and overall there’s not much brand continuity going on. Having a consistent, well thought out brand is important for a successful business and a social media marketing professional can help keep your brand personality consistent strong across all websites and accounts.

3. Plan Creation and Integration

If you’ve already established a strong social media presence, an experienced social media professional should be ready to build upon that plan, instead of replacing it entirely with their own ideas. When you do choose to hire a social media marketer, they can come up with a social media plan of attack based upon what your existing marketing team has put in place. A good social media marketer will integrate with existing structures in the interest of brand continuity (as previously mentioned). As a result, the themes and ideas already in use will be enhanced by a professional whose perspective can balance everything you love about your brand with industry trends and effective implementation.

4. Wide Range of Subject Knowledge

While you might be able to tweet a few times a week or put up a Facebook post every other day, a social media marketing professional has a much wider range of knowledge about various social media sites. This means that they know about the existence of many more useful sites, best practices, and trends.. As a result, they can create the most useful content possible, share it efficiently and design your page and profile to match your existing brand design.

5. Sufficient Customer Communication

Chances are that if you’re in charge of your own social media, or if you have one person who runs the social media accounts in addition to all of their other responsibilities, your customers could get neglected. When you have a dedicated social media employee, they have a sufficient amount of time to dedicate to customer communication via your social accounts. Whether you’re dealing with consumer complaints or compliments, it’s important to make sure that your customers are getting the attention that they need.

Having a strong social media presence is a must for a successful business. If you’ve got a marketing team in place already, a social media professional can complement the existing structure quite nicely. The benefits above are just some of the many ways a social media marketer can improve your company; consider hiring one today.

Sara Collins is a writer for NerdWallet. She works to help readers learn about a range of subjects, from the best travel discounts to planning for college tuition. Stop by and say hello to Sara on G+.