It’s a simple concept that has been repeated to us again and again since the first time we took a class that even just slightly touched upon how to set effective goals: SMART.
Typically attributed to Peter Drucker, the SMART framework endorses the development of objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Depending on who you talk to, those letters sometimes stand for different words; however, for the purposes of this blog post, let’s stick to the ones I enumerated.
The reason why the SMART framework has proven to be so effective is because it’s simple enough for anyone to grasp, follow, and base their entire marketing strategies on. (It also helps that the acronym sounds cool!) Besides, it can be applied to just about any situation that requires setting objectives to achieve a specific end. A good example is using social media for businesses.
Any social media consultant would agree that using the SMART framework allows you to establish clear objectives that tell you whether or not you’re still on track. Of course, it’s easy to say that you’ll be coming up with an attainable goal, or that you’ve plotted out your objectives in such a way that you’ll be able to achieve them after a definite period of time.
The challenging part lies in actually applying the SMART principle — this is particularly true if you’ve just started managing your (or some other brand’s) social media pages, and have nothing to work with aside from your (or the client’s) wishes to increase their following and engagement rate.
For example, you (or your client) might be aiming to “get more likes and shares by the end of the month,” or “sell more products from advertising them on social media.” With such ambiguous objectives, at what point can you say that your campaign was a success (or a failure)?
Now, the question is: How can you realistically apply the SMART framework to the process of setting your goals? Here’s hoping that you’ll find the quick guide I prepared useful in answering this question – check it out below:
S is for SPECIFIC
Being specific simply means clearly envisioning the result you’re aiming to attain after you put effort into social media management. Think about it this way: when you participate in a race, you have a clear image of where you want to be after the race is done – past the finish line, ahead of everyone else.
If you don’t have a finish line, running would just be pointless and tiring. Saying that you want “more engagement” or “better ROI” is a huge mistake, simply because you don’t have a clear target — all you have is a vague idea of something that may not even come, depending on how well or poorly you handle your social media.
Is this objective clearly defined and compliant with the company’s goals and mission statement?
Example: Coffee Shop A wants to grow its online community. It plans to share content that’s relevant to coffee lovers at least once a day, write blogs about coffee news and products that it can share via social media at least once a week, and actively engage with fans who comment on the page in order to foster camaraderie, build brand loyalty, grow the online community, and hopefully encourage more people to visit the shop.
M is for MEASURABLE
Avoid writing an abstract or ambiguous objective, and as much as possible, stick to numbers. You must also consider the differences in how each social media platform measures such things as engagement, awareness, and other factors that may be relevant to what you want to achieve.
One way of measuring the effectiveness of your actions is by looking at your reach, engagement, and conversion. The first element pertains to the number of people who were able to see your update, whether directly on your page or through a retweet or link share. The second tells you how many people you were able to engage with your content. The last one indicates how many of your customers actually took the leap and made a purchase after seeing your content.
How are you planning to measure whether or not you succeeded in reaching your objective?
Example: Coffee Shop A wants to see a 15% increase in the number of shares , comments, and clicks it receives whenever it shares content on its Facebook page.
A is for ATTAINABLE
While it’s nice to set high goals, try to keep them as realistic and achievable as you can. In short, make sure that your objective is actually possible. Consider the tools and skills at your disposal, the amount of knowledge you currently possess, the present state of the social media environment and your industry, and the people you are working with. Make sure to use your resources strategically, and don’t let anyone on your team feel burned out.
Is your objective realistic, and did you take all the important factors into consideration before setting it?
Example: Come January of 2016, Coffee Shop A would have already published one blog every week for four months, retweet an industry leader at least once every two days, and build a network that includes 10 prominent influencers in the coffee industry.
R is for RELEVANT
Sure, your goal might be specific, measurable, and attainable, but is it a goal worth setting in the first place? Is it worth your while to expend time and effort into achieving it, especially if it’s only tangentially related to what you really intend to accomplish?
Does this objective have a positive impact on my main goals for the business?
Example: By increasing Coffee Shop A’s followers on social media, awareness of the brand also increases, and the brand’s messaging can reach a wider audience.
T is for TIME-BOUND
This basically means setting a deadline. Without a target date of completion, your goal will be neither important nor urgent, and it will quickly find its way to the back of your priority list until you realize that you weren’t able to accomplish it when you should have.
When do you plan to start and end working on your objective?
Example: Coffee Shop A wants to grow its online community from 50 to 500 in one month.
To sum it up: In order to develop SMART objectives, ask yourself seven questions:
- Who will need to work towards achieving the goal – is it just you, or will you be working with a team?
- What is your intended end result?
- How will you measure your success?
- Where will these actions be carried out?
- Which barriers do you need to conquer, and which instruments or tools would help you reach your goal?
- Why are you aiming to achieve this objective?
- When will you commence working towards your goal, and when do you plan to achieve it?
I hope you’ve found this useful!
Liz Azyan is interested in the ways new kinds of social data and technology introduce challenges and opportunities to society. Get involved with Liz’s latest project here.