How successful is your social media outreach?
Unfortunately, there is a lot of bla-bla and little boum-boum in most talk about social media success factors, performance indicators and Return-on-Investment (ROI).
Half of the organisations are still still stuck with the old mix-up between “reach” and “impact”. And even “reach” they might (wrongly) define by the amount of Facebook Likes or Twitter Followers, forgetting how the US State Department wasted $630,000 buying 2 million Facebook Likes, resulting only in an engagement of on only 2%.
But hopefully, you have already risen above that. Hopefully, you are already thinking further in how to reach your target public, with the key messages… But even so, when reading articles on critical success factors, and social media ROI, I find generic figures suggested measurements, as if each organisation or company aims to do the same thing on social media.
“Social media success” depends on what you want to achieve with social media. In other words: if you want to measure success, you first need to define what success means for you. And that is the very first step you need to take when wandering into a social media adventure.
That, you define in a social media strategy. And it ain’t rocket science: A social media strategy consists of four steps, minimum:
1. WHY: Define your objectives
How does your social media outreach fit within your broader media strategy? Do you want to use social media for advocacy? For online fundraising? To build an open dialogue with like-minded people? To enhance internal communications, or communications with your partners? As teasers, leading to your core content? To illustrate your research? Or will you use social media only as an online repository, collecting existing content? What are your key audiences, and why do you want to reach them?
2. HOW: Define your approach
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of social media tools out there. Which will you use? What will you use them for? Will you use Twitter, or Facebook, or LinkedIn, or Google+? Will you use videos, podcasts, slides, pictures? Is there any way each of those will be linked one to another? Is your blog a central platform linking each of the other social media tools? Given your objectives, and following your approach, what will you actually do on social media?
What will your social media flow to look like? Will you use a set of tools as teasers, leading into intermediate content, which, in its turn, will lead to core research? Will you use events to stir up the momentum once a year? Will you use your social media tools to connect to your partners, or use your partners to actively expand your network? Having defined your different groups of key audiences, how do you want reach each of these groups?
3. WHAT: Define your social media work plan
Here we dive into the practicalities: What will you do to with all your social media tools, to reach your objectives, following your approach? How, practically, will you link them up? What will you do to reach your target audiences, with each of the tools. What techniques will you use to expand your network on each of your social media tools. Who will do what, by when?
4. And only then, we are ready to MEASURE
After defining the Why, the How and the What, you can set your Key Performance Indicators: Each of these should measure how well each tool is performing, within the tool itself, as well as within the whole flow, within your whole social media strategy:
Of course, your Twitter following is an important measure, but you can’t ONLY measure that. Having 10,000 Twitter followers, – or 2 million Facebook Likes, like the US State Department had, is only one of the many measures.
More important is how those Twitter followers and those Facebook Likes contribute to reach your objectives: what is the Facebook PTAT (“People Talking About This”), interactions and click-thru’s? How much traffic is Twitter driving to your blog, if this is the role of your blog, as defined in your approach. How many times are your Flickr pictures re-used in online publications. If that was part of your social media objectives, of course.
Each point in your workplan, should link to one of more approaches, linking to one of more objectives. And each should be objectively measurable, both as an absolute figure, as well as a relative figure, measuring your progress over time.
THAT will define if your social media outreach is a success or not.
So.. Shy away from any article “defining social media success in 10 steps”. No-one can do that, for your organisation, but you. As only you know what you want to achieve, and how you want to achieve your social media objectives.
And your first step, is to define your social media strategy. Without a social media strategy, you are shooting in the void, and you will stay in “Social Media Lala-land” forever.