Social Media Optimization: SMART Marketing

By Ric Shreves, Michelle Krasniak

When you’ve defined your social media objectives, identified your target audience and found out where to find them on social media channels, used the data from analytics programs to determine the optimal time to be active on social media, and put a comprehensive social media behavior policy in place, you’re ready to move forward to the next step in working search media optimization (SMO) into your workflow.

The next step in the process is something that marketing people everywhere call SMART marketing (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time‐related).

Specific

The first step in defining your target audience is setting the objective of your social media plan. You need to get more specific about that objective to clear away any fuzziness or ambiguity.

Grab a piece of paper and a pen, and then answer the five Ws:

  • What do you want to accomplish with your social media accounts?

  • Why is it important to accomplish this goal? What benefits will you realize if you do?

  • Where on social media will you seek these goals?

  • Who will be involved in accomplishing these goals?

  • When will you know that you’ve met your goals?

Adding a “how” question and breaking your plan into steps helps you measure your progress as you go along.

Measurable

Your goals should be measurable. How are you and your team supposed to know whether you’ve made any progress toward your goal if you have nothing to measure? Think of measuring goals as the before‐and‐after picture of your objective — how things looked before you began your social media journey and what they look like when you reach your first benchmark. Give your activities at least a month to take effect before checking to see how far you’ve come toward your goal.

Making your goals measurable goes along with the “When” question. Setting benchmarks shows you exactly how far you’ve come toward your goal and exactly how far you have to go. Measuring keeps your team on track, and you can make small adjustments as needed to make sure that your plan is moving forward smoothly.

These benchmarks depend on your overall objective, but they should be quantifiable. Here are some examples:

  • How much have your website visits increased?

  • How many more people have Liked your Facebook page since you started posting more often?

  • How many more retweets have you had since you started tweeting more photos and videos?

  • By how much have your sales increased since you’ve ramped up your social media efforts?

Using analytics programs is a good place to start quantifying your progress.

Attainable

It’s important to set realistic objectives. Getting 5,000 new Facebook followers in a month isn’t very realistic, but getting 50 or 100 new followers in a month is. If you keep your goals reasonable, you and your employees will gain the confidence to keep pushing forward when you reach one benchmark and see that you’re well on your way to meeting your ultimate goal — or, even better, that you’ve already reached it.

The flip side of that coin is that you have to be careful not to set the bar too low. A goal of gaining five new Facebook followers in a month is a pretty low goal, especially if you’ve been working hard to post appropriate content. Chances are that you could get that many new followers in a day or two, so your team really has no incentive to push themselves if they know that reaching the goal is going to be easy‐peasy.

It’s okay to occasionally revise your idea of what’s realistic for your team as you get more and more comfortable with social media. If you find yourself doing that frequently, however, it’s time to revise your idea of what’s realistic.

Relevancy

The R in SMART deals with the relevancy of your goals. If you sell fishing equipment, but your objective is to make sure that you clean out your email inbox by the end of the day, you’re seriously lacking relevance. That example is an extreme one, of course, but the idea here is the irrelevance of that benchmark to your SMO goals.

Relevance covers a few aspects of your goal. It’s important to answer questions like the following:

  • Does this goal align with the long‐term plans for the business?

  • Is now a good time to pursue this objective?

  • Do the ends justify the means? In other words, is all this time and effort going to pay off?

  • Are the people who are involved the right people for the job?

If an objective isn’t relevant to the current state of your company, it’s going to lose steam quickly or — worse — turn out to be a waste of time and money.

Time‐based

Having a timeline goes hand in hand with making your objective measurable, attainable, and realistic. But how long should you let your social media efforts continue before deciding that everything was a success or a failure?

Social media is a slow burn. There are ups and downs. You have to stick with it, be patient, and not get discouraged if you get ten likes one day and don’t get any more likes for the next five days. You have to be in social media for the long haul.

That said, it’s important to set time‐frame goals, which vary depending on your objectives. Here are some examples:

  • How long do I give our effort to work before I designate it to be a success or a failure?

  • If this effort doesn’t pan out, is it worth revisiting six months from now or next year?

  • Is it realistic to expect to see at least small changes on a weekly basis?

  • What activities do we need to do every day?