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Why all marketing, including social media marketing needs a goal

February 25, 2014

Goal original

Goal original (Photo credit: Peter Fuchs)

Imagine a soccer game without nets. We would never know when the game ended, the lads would be randomly running around the pitch, bumping into each other. The refs wouldn’t even know when to blow the whistle.

It would be a mess.

To me, that is the state of social media marketing – we’re doing it without nets, without a goal.

Without a goal, one doesn’t even reliably know when to start or end.

“Hey, lets start a Facebook page!!!”


“Because people are doing it, it’s where the kids are, it’s the new thing.”

As digital media grows up and begins to be thought of as proper marketing, one interesting question will be asked.

Why are you doing this?

Over on her blog, a colleague wonders about Doing Social Media ‘Well.’ The finger quotes are hers, and her argument is that this is proper marketing and we should have goals, and not be running around on the ice all willy-nilly hoping for things to happen.

For almost seven years I’ve been spouting on this blog that social media is many things. It is powerful. But then, so is TV. So is a really effective radio spot, or a print ad. Done well, social media can work – but like all other tools in the marketers tool box, it needs to have the term “work” defined.

Caution: that said, a large part of traditional marketing doesn’t really have measurable goals. The stated goal of a TV spot is to generate awareness of the product so that when someone is in a position to buy that product, the brand floats into consciousness.

Try measuring that shit.

So on the fringes, building a community, creating awareness in certain areas – these are perfectly valid. You can measure them by listing out the tactics, and seeing if they made an impact. In soccer, they measure how far a player ran in the game. Not a stat that impacts the score, but one that can inform the overall goal.

So then you’ll need actual proper measurable goals. One of the goals of digital media I work on is to drive traffic to the .edu. I’ve outlined numbers, and at the end of the year, I’ll look at those numbers and see if I achieve my goal. To deliver on that goal, I’ve had to shut down Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. I’ve had to add links to YouTube videos, and Flickr sets. I’ve realized I should think about the various platforms as orbiting the sun in a galaxy. I’ve learned what Freebase is, and how it will manage data. I’ve done all this because to achieve my goal, I need to be on top of these platforms.

I also have so-called vanity metric goals, a certain number of likes and follows. However, those vanity metric goals are for specific people. So I needed to understand how I will measure that.

I don’t have all the answers, but I have a lot of questions. The first one should be “why are you this?”. The answer should be something that is measurable.

That’s doing social media well.

Related: What you can learn from a College student.

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