I’m sure we marketers have all been guilty of this – putting together a “strategy” without clear, measurable objectives – especially on social media.

This is what I’d call strategic tactics because chances are it’s more about the strategy of how you’re going to do something as opposed to the strategy for reaching specific goals or outcomes for the business.

There’s lots of companies that have jumped into the social media spaces and put plans in place to gather the right team and push out consistent content.

But it’s a lot of wasted effort.

And it’s because they haven’t started at a layer or two above asking a few strategic questions that mean it’s actually supporting the business.

It’s like throwing darts in the dark hoping there’s a target out there that you’ll magically hit.

Chances are, your company is already deep into the social spaces. But if you’re feeling like it’s not as effective as it should be, ask yourself these questions:

1. What overall business plan/objective/goal is our social media feeding into?

We absolutely have to (HAVE TO!) remember that Social Media is just a channel – a very powerful one – but a channel, nonetheless. It’s one of the ways that you’re going to help accomplish an overarching business or marketing strategy.

It’s not the only way and it doesn’t live by itself.

One of those strategies needs to be direction for everything you do on social. Otherwise, your efforts will be short-sighted and difficult to measure against actually helping the business.

If your only measure of success is followers, you’re in trouble. What’s the ROI of just having a follower? That’s a really difficult thing to measure.

But, if you have a business case that you know you can support with Social, there’s a lot of creative ways to envision what kind of messaging, content, interactions, and growth you need to support it. As well as ways to measure it.

But it’s still just one piece of the puzzle.

2. Is there a better option than social media?

A lot of businesses feel the need to be on social. I get it. There’s so much pressure out there. And I truly believe that social media can help any business out there, but it really doesn’t mean that you have to be on it.

It only makes sense if you have the time, effort, and resources available to do it.

Different kinds of businesses are going to see different amounts of return on their investment into social media. For some, it makes a ton of sense for it to be one of the few things that they do. For others, there could be 10 other more-valuable things to do that return a much higher ROI.

This is where you absolutely need to have point #1 figured out and someone at a level that can weigh the value of time and resources put into social media vs. other things.

If you’re a small business owner whose struggling to keep up because your books and administration are weighing you down, you better not be paying a social media consultant when what you really need is an administrator.

Or if your business is B2B with a lot of face-to-face time, you may be way better served investing your resources in better tools for your sales team than trying to find people in the businesses to follow you on Twitter.

Now, hear what I’m saying.

I love social media. I think it’s a fantastic tool with incredible opportunity.

But it’s not the be-all, end-all. And if whoever you have helping with your social media isn’t sometimes telling you that it’s not the right option for something you want to do, I’d be cautious if they can see the larger picture.

Whatever you do, you just need to have a clear reason why.

3. Given the resources we have available and our audience, where should we be?

If I had a nickel for every business that had a Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube channel, LinkedIn page, and Google+ place, but was doing a poor job on every single one of them, I would be on a beach in Maui and not writing this post.

The worst part is I’ve been guilty of it.

We love to have all those fancy social icons in the top corner of our page. We even think it’s strategic to create content that we can push out across multiple channels.

But until you have one channel mastered, you shouldn’t even think about moving on to a second one. More on that in yesterday’s post How About Just Doing 1 or 2 Things Awesomely? But with everyone stepping up their game in the social spaces, and consumers being more choosy about who they follow, you have to deliver the right content in the right way on the right channel.

To do that, think about your audience and where they’re most likely to be. Think about what kind of content you could deliver that would enrich their lives that’s also meeting a business objective or two. Think about what great content on that channel looks, feels, and sounds like. Then think about how much time you or your team realistically has to be able to deliver that great content.

Once you have a plan for that, start with 1 channel and stick with it until it’s accomplished what you want it to.

4. What does success look like?

This may be the toughest one. But it’s the most important.

You absolutely need to know what success looks like on social media.

And it isn’t the typical social media metrics like number of likes, favourites, comments, replies, retweets, or views.

It needs to be always pointing back to how it helped you accomplish point number 1 – your overall business objectives.

The thing about the typical social media metrics is you can be knocking it out of the park on those and not see your business grow one bit.

In this great land of Saskatchewan, I can be any business and post a picture of the Riders and probably pick up a bunch of likes, replies, or comments.

But who cares? How did that help my business?

It’s easy to get on a bandwagon.

I once heard a marketer tell me that our only job was to get people in the door.

Really? Perfect. I’ll just advertise free pizza, beer, and strippers. Mission accomplished.

But we all know that’s not the way that it works. It’s not just about getting people.

It’s about getting the RIGHT people.

Social media is the same. It’s about providing content and having conversations that are helping strategically build your business. If it’s not doing that, or you’re not sure how to tell if it’s doing that, go back to the drawing board and figure it out.

photo credit: frielp via photopin cc