Social Media Marketing Goals & Tools

Written by J-P De Clerck, who is an experienced content, conversion and social media consultant. Like Mindjumpers, he is associated with Social Marketing Forum. You can connect with him on Twitter @Conversionation

Do you care about what your prospects, customers and competitors say about your business, your industry and your products? Are you where your customers are? Do you know how effective word of mouth is? Do you use social media and the proper tools to measure, engage and act?

People use social media. And so do your customers and many other people you want to reach. They use them to share their views – word of mouth – and build personal networks. They use them to prepare their buying journey, listening to their peers, actively seeking advice and reading what other people think about your business, brand, products and services.

Your website is the hub of your marketing activities. Blogs are hubs of social media marketing activities. You want people to find the information you provide online. Because deep down you know they increasingly inform themselves and call the shots in interactions with businesses and in their buying journey.

So, not knowing what is happening in the (social) Web regarding your customers, business and market is missing tremendous opportunities to improve your overall marketing and customer insights. It is like flying a plane in a storm with zero visibility, no dashboard, a broken radio and even no compass. On top of that the insights themselves are not enough. You also need to be able to act upon them.

DIY social media marketing does not equal a free – nor tasty – lunch

Then, what should you do? “Join the conversation”, as you are so often advised? Without a clear, strategy and a mix of all sorts of tools that together enable you to have some kind of view and “converse”? What will you do with the data you obtain using them? How much time will you spend? Where do you start? How will you respond? How will you improve your overall marketing strategy? Exactly what tools will you use for these and other purposes?

You start by looking at your customers, your business and where you stand today. You start by monitoring and listening from a customer-centric and cross-channel perspective. But that’s not enough. You need to act, involve, measure etc.

You want to gain insights instead of data. You want to act upon them and turn them into customer satisfaction and profit. You want to know how people find you, what keywords they use in search engines and what they say. And if you use social media such as Twitter or Facebook, you want to measure their impact.

But most of all: you want to have a strategy, a plan, clear goals and a dashboard that shows you what works and what should improve from a cross-channel perspective where several interaction channels strengthen each other, benefiting both you and your customers.

Social media monitoring, analytics and social “content management” tools are a necessity to see where you stand and where you are going. Which ones are best for you depends on your goals.

It’s strange that, when it comes to social media marketing, many businesses adopt a do it yourself mentality and start looking at free tools for every single social media marketing activity they want to measure and improve. There are gazillions of lists with such tools. One for Twitter, one for blog mentions, another one to track competition, one to complete existing customer data, you name it.

It takes a lot of time to manage all of them and they seldom enable a cross-channel and overall view that combines monitoring, engaging, measuring, testing, integrating and much more.

Using a bunch of tools is time-consuming. And there still is no such thing as a free lunch. Not in DIY social media marketing either. On top of that DIY is not always a tasty lunch: in the end it’s not about tools but about strategy, value, relevance, metrics, personal dialogue and results.But to measure the success of your social media marketing efforts, you need to establish your goals first.

How S.M.A.R.T. are we in social media marketing?

Let’s compare the sometimes supposed free lunch with for instance web analytics: sure, there are free tools (should I mention Google Analytics?) and yes, you can define goals. The question, however, is if you use them as efficient as you can.Do you define the right goals and methods to measure them?

It’s also a bit like in search engine optimization and search engine advertising: yes, you can do it yourself as well but what’s the return on investment of time, learning curve and…mistakes as compared to number of generated leads for instance? How is the conversion? Are you sure you’re obtaining the best results you can get?

Many businesses work with third parties or experts for web analytics and search engine marketing to get clear and proven results in function of properly defined goals. But when it comes to social media marketing, most don’t as several surveys have shown.

Too bad because in the end social media marketing success is really measured in function of goals.

And ultimately they are defined by the same S.M.A.R.T. objectives every online marketer that ever defined key performance indicators knows:

◊ Specific
◊ Measurable
◊ Attainable
◊ Relevant
◊ Time-bound

In this social media age the RELEVANT part is more important than ever and it works in two directions. But the others are key as well.

So, why are they so often absent or not measured from a global perspective? It makes one wonder if social media marketing is less important than other forms of marketing…

What do you think?

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