I regularly take part in conference calls involving online community managers from around the country and overseas. We discuss our experiences, challenges and practices in leading social media efforts for our respective organizations.
The topic for today’s call was companies’ marketing efforts via social media. Most seemed to assume that marketing is a vital reason for companies to be involved in social media. The perennial issue of how to measure ROI came up as did the problem of having too few people to do everything the company expects. Comparisons and contrasts were made between the experiences of the more seasoned participants versus those whose companies and personnel were fairly new to such efforts.
Throughout the call, I kept thinking that an element of the discussion was missing, so near the end of the call I brought it up. Whether we are speaking of our online communities we lead or other business efforts, the only way we have a chance to accurately measure how successful we are at something is if we know from the beginning what the purpose is – what our goals are. Why are we doing this? Is it so that the company can push its products on the public via one more channel? Is it because we have some expertise in a subject area and want to help educate others? Are we opening up a channel for customer service?
Measuring success depends on knowing what the goals are ahead of time. Only then can you benchmark where you were before your efforts and use that baseline to compare with the results. My sense, however, is that too few companies and individuals have real, meaningful goals, strategies, and a means for measuring success. That too easily results in haphazard activity that may look like things are being done, but that probably fails to meet business or personal objectives if put to the test.
That isn’t good enough to be a next practice. We need clarity about what is important, what goals we set, how we will accomplish them and how we will measure that success. Without those, presumed successes may be no more than dumb luck.
Leap year lesson #135 is Success doesn’t happen without goals.