Small Business and Social Media: You Have Goals, Don’t You?

by Ken Mueller on October 4, 2012 · 24 comments

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Today’s guest post is from Gini Dietrich.

You’re a business owner. You likely went out on your own because you were really good at your job and may even have discovered a new and different way to do things in a way your former employer never would have considered.

But no one told you you’d do less of your craft and more of things where you have no experience: HR, accounting, accounts payable, business development, advertising, PR, and marketing. If things go according to plan, you’re growing and adding people and increasing inventory, which requires multiple trips to the bank to discuss cash flow while you wait to get paid.

Things, while challenging, are going along swimmingly.

And then the economy tanked and we faced the worst recession since the Great Depression. And, at the same time, people began buying differently. Your foot traffic declined. Your prospect lunches dried up. Heck, people stop answering their phones.

Suddenly you had to be good at all of the things listed above AND social media.

In the beginning, social media “experts” advised to worry less about the ROI (“what’s the ROI of your mom?“) and more about just getting out there and participating in the conversation.

But now, after several years of using the tools for business growth and development, brand awareness and thought leadership aren’t enough. It’s time to measure your efforts directly to business goals.

The Complete Measurement Guide

The very first thing you need to do is figure out why you’re using social media and how it integrates with the rest of your marketing and communications.

Everything you do should drive people – customers, prospects, critics, loyalists, employees, even competitors – to something you own. You won’t be an expert in each of the social tools. Rather, you’ll be an expert in communications via the social web that drive people to your website and/or blog.

Here’s how:

  1. Determine your goals. What are you trying to achieve? Is it increased leads? Is it improved margins? Is it increased fundraising? Is it bigger sales per customer? Whatever it is, know what you want to accomplish very first thing.
  2. Monitor the web. Too many business leaders see the shiny new penny and think, “OK, now we have to figure out this new tool.” Not so. By using tools such as Google alerts, you can figure out where your customers and prospects already participate online. If they’re on Twitter, that’s where you’ll spend your time. If they’re writing blogs, you’ll comment on their blogs and create your own blog. But just because Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are the most popular social networks doesn’t mean they’ll work for you. Figure out where your audiences are online and build your efforts there.
  3. Align efforts to goals. This is so important, yet very few actually do it. Let’s say your goal is to drive more retail sales. You wouldn’t, then, create a 30 percent off coupon for Facebook fans to buy online. If your goal is to drive more retail sales, use tools that drive people into your store and create loyalty, such as Foursquare or Belly.
  4. Figure out your content needs. The very best way to get started creating content is to change your website. I like to tell clients to take the French out of their websites – the we, we, we – as a first step. Create content that is valuable, educational, and about them, not you. Then, as your content needs grow, look at your customers and employees to help tell stories.
  5. Don’t dismiss soft metrics. Brand awareness and credibility are still extremely important. But they shouldn’t be your only metrics. The soft metrics can lead to things such as paid speaking engagements, industry event appearances, and customer events that eventually lead to increased sales.
  6. Measure, measure, measure. It used to be you’d have to wait a full year to gain any metrics on whether or not your marketing and communications worked. Now you know instantly. Don’t measure the ego-driven metrics (increased traffic or stories about your company in print). Measure the types of things that get you to numbers one and three in this list.
  7. Improve and refine. As you measure your efforts, you’ll find places where you can improve. Do it. Don’t be afraid to switch gears a bit during the process. Improve, refine, and measure some more.
It won’t happen overnight. As you figure out how to align your efforts to your goals, there will be lots of refinement. In fact, the more refinement, the better you’re doing. So get to it!

 
 

gini dietrich Small Business and Social Media: You Have Goals, Dont You?

 
 

Gini Dietrich is the founder and chief executive officer of Arment Dietrich, Inc., a public relations firm that uses nontraditional marketing in a digital world. She is also the primary author of the Spin Sucks blog, and the co-author (with Geoff Livingston)  of Marketing in the Round

 
 

 Small Business and Social Media: You Have Goals, Dont You?
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17 comments
Integra_Flex
Integra_Flex

@bdorman264 @kmueller62 If you don't have goals, why are you on social media in the first place. Goals small or big are still goals.

kmueller62
kmueller62

@jeancase @geoffliving Thanks for the RT!

HughAnderson
HughAnderson

Hi Gini. I love how you can boil down such wise words into such simple, clear advice. Every small business owner should read this. It's amazing how many still don't get it. As well as defining goals, I think the key step many miss is really defining their target audience in detail, right down to buyer persona level, and then finding them. 

Also, I think 6 "measure, measure, measure" is still a challenge for those on a low budget, but tools like Google Analytics really help + we are members of AMEC and they are doing some great things in pushing the 'Valid Metrics' framework and establishing social media measurement standards. It's a great time to be in the vanguard of this progress.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

Thanks for stopping by and writing this for me. Came at just the right time! I've seen you write on these issues before, and it's so key to have know what your goals are, and then to measure to see if you are working toward those goals or just spinning your wheels for all the wrong reasons.

Adi Gaskell
Adi Gaskell

I particularly like #2.  It's so easy to think that you have to join every social network out there.  All that kind of attitude does is spread you very thinly.  As you say, it's much better to focus on the one or two that will give you the best return.

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

This is so good. I'm clipping it to Evernote!

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

Wait I came here because @bdorman264 told me a certain front porch sage gives expert advice and instead I am being schooled by someone named @ginidietrich how did that happen. This took me away from reading the Best of Ziggy.

I am dealing with this stuff now. My partner is Micro oriented. I am Macro. A good fit but sadly she is the primary partner. It really is better to be reversed. I suggest to business owners do not get bogged down in minutiae. It is really easy to do that. Add that over time. Focus on the core important actions and activities you need for your business to succeed.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@HughAnderson I think part of the problem is most start businesses without thinking about goals at all. I remember a few years ago when someone asked me our profitability goal. I looked at him like he had six heads. I had no idea you were supposed to track those kinds of things. I think that's pretty typical. 

Latest blog post: #FollowFriday: Karl Sprague

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@Adi Gaskell When I speak to business owners, I show them a graphic that explains this in a pretty image. They always look at all of the places my business is online and think they have to do that too. But then I show them it's taking us seven (!!) years to get where we are and that always makes them feel better.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@ginidietrich Oh, we've known each other for a few years now, Gini. I suppose it's ok for you to drop the formalities. No need to call me Mr. Mueller. Feel free to use something else, like...Your Royal Wonderfulness. That works.

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