This is the second in a series of posts about how to develop your social media strategy. Here, we will discuss why you should use social media, by helping you figure out your goals.
WHY Do You Need Goals?
Yes, it’s all about reaching your audience, which is something organizations have been doing for centuries whether it’s through traveling sales people — who tell you great stories about the miracle cure or cleaning products they hope to sell you — snail mail, or other advertising.
The only difference is that we’re now doing this in an online environment where the whole world could potentially be watching. So, in some ways it’s scarier, but you have the potential to reach more of your audience if you can effectively break through that barrage of information people see online every day.
But first, you need to figure out what what goals you want to accomplish. These goals should help you meet your organization’s goals. Here are a few examples, which should be further tailored to your organization.
Do you figure out how you’re going to get somewhere before you know where you’re going? Do you decide you want to drive, then decide on Thailand if you live in the States? Most likely not.
So why decide on what social media tools you want to use before you know the when, who, why, what, where, and how of what you’re doing? Why decide on a platform, such as Facebook or Twitter or Google+, before you know what you want to accomplish with these tools?
Otherwise you will just be haphazardly posting material with no goal in mind and no way to evaluate what you’re doing.
However, I get it. It’s easy to do! When you have limited resources and you’re always working in a last-minute capacity to promote an event, campaign or fundraiser, it’s stressful. It’s much easier to throw up a one-off page but with no real strategy behind it, but in the long run, that can be more harmful than good.
You don’t want to post too many fundraisers or ask your audience to participate in too many campaigns without providing any useful content, advice, or offering to answer questions. Otherwise, you will alienate your audience. You want to work on understanding what your goals are and what you want to give your audience. If you give to them, they will be more willing to support you.
It’s hard to say without specifically analyzing your organization what strategy will work best for you, but there are some things that will remain constant and questions you should ask to form your strategy.
It all started with Mr. Penumbra and his bookstore, his 24-hour bookstore that is, and the clerk Clay and his girlfriend Kat talking about the future (page 60). This happens in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan, a fabulous short novel about a bookstore that is more than it appears, customers who never buy but check out endless books and, of course, a budding new romance. What could be more enticing than that?
Here’s part of the conversation from page 60, as we’re going to need to discuss that.
Kat: “Okay, we’re going to play. To start, imagine the future. The good future. No nuclear bombs. Pretend you’re a science fiction writer.”
Clay: Okay: “World government…no cancer…hover-boards.”
“Go further. What’s the good future after that?”
“Spaceships. Party on Mars.”
“Star Trek. Transporters. You can go anywhere.”
I pause a moment and then realize. “I can’t.”
Kat shakes her head. “It’s really hard. And that’s, what, a thousand years? What comes after that? What could possibly come after that? Imagination runs out. But it makes sense right? We probably just imagine things based on what we already know, and we run out of analogies in the thirty-first century.”
Ok, we got a little sidetracked on the sci-fi angle here. It was honestly the hover-boards that pulled me in as I would love to ride one. But let’s just imagine even 20 years into the future.
If we can imagine taking one leap, and thinking of that as something that already exists, then we can build from there. Suppose in the 1980s, we had imagined (and I suppose some people did) that everyone would be online all the time by the next century. What could we have imagined from there? Could we have realized mobile devices were going to be as prevalent as they are today?
The point is that once you go forward 10 or 15 years and realize that one assumption might come true, you can look for the next one. And then nothing seems unrealistic anymore. But if you try and skip from where we are now to something like 50 years later, it becomes more difficult. What would be easier to imagine first back in the 1950s? Having a dial-up Internet connection, or everyone having mobiles that they would carry with them that would have access to the Internet?