…You’re probably not achieving any. Harsh? Maybe a little, but if you are not quantifying and measuring nebulous concepts like success and failure, you will not be able to delineate which side you’re on. We’ve all heard that goals should be measurable and deadline-oriented but with the introduction of social media, many have eased up on the definition of such. Some say, you can’t measure social influence so how can we assign it trackable goals? Attaining success in social media/networking can be measured if you break down its components, or rather, the pieces of social networking that will bring your organization the most success. Having 50,000 “followers/likers” doesn’t matter if you only have 30 members in your organization.
1. Decide what parts of social media are crucial to your success. Here’s a hint: they probably have nothing (directly) to do with social media. As the example above notes having lots of non-paying fans/followers means very little to you if your goal is to increase paid memberships. Sure, there is probably a correlation between numbers of fans and numbers of members, but not necessarily. In open social networks, anyone can follow you — even competitors — so numbers don’t directly equal increased memberships. Define your goals first (specific and time-oriented), work in a social media strategy second.
2. Choosing the correct direction means knowing when you’re headed in the wrong one. Now that you have your goals defined, decide what failure looks like to you. Having only 300 members may be failure to you, while achieving that number may be another group’s best day ever. Only you know the difference between disappointing activity and a flourishing community. Give words to it so you can recognize it. Know your enemy.
3. Where do we go from here? Now that you’ve outlined parameters for where you want to go and where you don’t, examine how you will get there by breaking up your goals into smaller objectives. If your goal for (the fictional, as far as I know) International Association of Sci Fi Readers is to: increase membership by 12% by end of Q3, you need to figure out how you will do that. Begin with brainstorming. Toss around ideas to increase membership, write all of them down no matter how outlandish. Review the list. Narrow it down by selecting three or four objectives on how you will achieve your goal. They could look like this (this is a simplified example. You’ll most likely want a more multi-faceted plan but every plan should include contact, follow-up and tracking):
Goal One: Increasing membership by 12% by end of Q3
– Offer refer-a-friend discounts/earn bonus points. Use hyperlink in referral email to track number of referrals.
– Search Twitter daily (using known hashtags) for mentions of: sci fi, quantum, ET, aliens, books.
– Engage and follow Twitter users who employ the above hashtags. Enter their information into the association management system.
– For those who return the follow, invite them to _____ (this can be an online chat, membership event, private, online community, etc.)
4. A plan without follow-up is just an organizational day dream. If your plan lacks follow-through and tracking, you’ve spent way too much time on planning and not enough time in the real world. Developing a plan means constant monitoring — are you on track? How do you know? If you’re not on track, how far off are you? Since most goals are long-term make sure you evaluate constantly. If you don’t, you may find yourself in the night-before-the-midterm-panic of having wasted a whole semester (or other block of time) with nothing to show for it and since most goals can not be accomplished over night you are setting yourself up for failure.
5. Have the measurement tools in place. Don’t go into your goals planning session with the thought of after we accomplish our goals, we’ll put together the framework for tracking. This may be tempting because when it comes to goal strategy you wanted to start achieving your goals “yesterday” but don’t launch an attempt toward your goals without having tracking in place. Since consistent monitoring is the key to success, you’ll want your monitoring plan to be in place prior to beginning your journey toward meeting your goals. Whether it’s one-click reporting on community health or fundraising information, an executive dashboard or a syte sensor that allows you to remain vigilant, your organization’s progress must be monitored and compared to your success and failure definitions.
Goal attainment is hard work but it becomes infinitely harder when a plan is not in place. Your plan needs to be quantifiable and timely, broken into manageable chunks. You must evaluate the plan and your objectives on a constant basis and monitor your success/failure, following up on actionable items and contacts consistently. Lastly, employ tools that help you do so efficiently.