You have a blog and post to it regularly. You Tweet several times a day on Twitter. You comment on Friends’ pages on Facebook. You work your network on LinkedIn. Everyone is telling you social media marketing is the key to success. But it takes time. How do you know if it’s worth the effort?
Like any marketing strategy you use, you can’t tell if it’s working until you define what success is. This is the biggest mistake I see entrepreneurs making with their marketing. You must have clear, well defined goals with social media marketing and any other marketing strategy you use. And no, saying “increased sales” is not a good enough goal.
Like any goal, your marketing goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. You also need to remember the Rule of Seven: your prospects need to see and hear your message seven (or more) times before they take action to buy.
So lets take a look at the process more closely.
Create a Specific social media marketing goal. Yes you want to increase sales. But do you really expect people to pull out your credit card when you Tweet about the meeting you’re heading off to or when you write on someone’s Facebook wall? No. What you’re doing is building a relationship; showing your connections you are a real person that they can get to know, like and trust (rule of seven).
A better social media goal for most businesses would be increased traffic of some kind: increased visitors to your blog, increased subscriptions to your ezine or newsletter, or increased downloads of your free report. Remember, selling online is usually a multistep process. Social media is often step one. So your goal should be to get people from step one to step two.
For my business, I often get people following me on Twitter. They then connect via Facebook or LinkedIn then subscribe to my ezine. Once they are on my mailing list, it’s easier to market directly. You should look for a similar pattern.
If your goal is increased traffic, you need to know what your traffic is now. Then you can compare how your social media strategy affects your traffic. Most web hosting companies have some sort of traffic measurement such as Webalizer. Use it.
You need to be checking your statistics regularly; comparing past and current numbers. If you have RSS on your site, you need to look at the numbers of subscribers as well. Better yet, write the numbers down somewhere you can see them daily. It’s a great motivator to see where you’re going.
When I first started using Twitter, I really didn’t expect much from it. To be honest, it sounded kind of stupid. But so many people I know and respect were on Twitter I thought I’d better give it a try. I set a six month time frame. After a month, I noticed a huge increase in traffic to my blog and subscriptions to my ezine. Since I hadn’t changed any of my other marketing strategies, I knew it had to be Twitter. My traffic continues to grow as a result of my Twitter usage.
Once you know what your current traffic is, you can tell if your social media (or other) marketing strategy is having the desired effect.
Attainable and Realistic Goals
When you set your goals, they should be a stretch but still be attainable. If you’re currently getting 1,000 visitors a month, increasing that traffic to 3,000 or even 10,000 – depending on your plan, efforts and timeframe – is probably realistic. Getting to a million visitors without some intermediate goals is probably too big a step.
You also need to believe you can achieve your goal. If you do, you’ll be motivated to stick to the plan. If you don’t really believe it’s possible to hit your target, you’ll find yourself making excuses as to why you can’t find time to do your marketing. So choose a goal that you believe is possible.
This is an important step in setting any goal. You need to put a timeframe on it. If you say you want to increase traffic from 1,000 visitors to 3,000 visitors per month but don’t have a deadline, you might find yourself reaching that goal in a year, two years or more. There’s no urgency in reaching the goal.
On the other hand, if you say you want to increase your traffic to 3,000 visitors within four months, that creates a sense of urgency. It becomes harder for you to procrastinate with your marketing if a deadline is looming.
Like any marketing strategy, social media works best when you have clear goals, measure results and you use the strategy consistently. If you’ve been using social media in a vacuum, it’s not too late to fix it. Set a clear, well defined goal for your business, measure your current position and track changes over the coming weeks and months. By monitoring your progress you can stay on track as well as see if you need to tweak what you’re doing.
Andrea J. Stenberg