The past few days, I've been talking about the need to establish solid goals around which to build you social media efforts. We've looked at why you need to have goals, we've explored the three categories of goals to help set the foundation for your efforts and we've talked about breaking your primary goals into supportive goals.

Now it's time to dig even deeper and start learning how to attach tactics to our goals. After all, a goal you have no way to reach is useless. It's when you begin to have a solid enough understanding of the many ways to leverage both social media as a whole and the individual social media outlets that you can begin using those goals to create action plans.

Begin by Reviewing Your Supportive Goals

As you know from my article on supportive goals, it's important to take broad goals and break them down into smaller ones. This helps you gain more perspective on the various ways you might leverage social media. It can be overwhelming to sit down and figure out how to use social media to "increase sales." It's a lot easier to sit down and figure out how to use it to "increase average order size" or "clear excess inventory quickly."

For this stage of your strategy, you need to start with your primary and supportive goals.

article4_1.jpgAs you can see from the example above, we're working from a primary goal of "Building a Reputation as Experts." That's a fairly tall order, but once we start to break it down into a supportive goals, it begins to make a bit more sense. In this instance, we've decided to focus on four key areas.

  • Establish a Blog Home Base - We'll want to have a central clearing house on the social web to share information, allow for comments and conversation and generally build a repository of expert information. The blog is the most natural location for this.

  • Approach MSM online  - As we begin to build these resources, we'll need to make sure we're notifying trusted influencers of the information. Pitching the data from new studies or tests to the main stream media and respected bloggers will help boost our reputation by serving as a source.

  • Generate link-worthy content - It's not enough to simply gain coverage and mention from influencers, we want to make sure the content we're creating is so valuable, people will link their readers to it for additional information. This will help boost credibility in the eyes of both search engines and individuals.

  • Enable content distribution channels - These days, people receive their information from a variety of sources. Producing good content that can't be found does no good. Enabling distribution via RSS feed, email subscription, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sources allows both consumers and influencers to receive the information in the manner they prefer. This enables faster, stronger spread.

Assign Tactics to Supportive Goals

As you can see, breaking that top level goal down into four smaller goals has already gone a long way toward helping us build our plan. We now have solid goals that we can easily begin to tie tactics to. This is the point at which we take each of our supportive goals and ask ourselves how we use the web and social media to achieve them.

That process might look something like this:

article4_2.jpgThink of this process like a road map. If you're driving from Cleveland, Ohio to Sacramento, California it makes perfect sense to take I-80 across the country. That said, you still have to figure out how to get from your house to the highway. That's exactly what we're doing here as we walk through each of these steps. We're helping you figure out the best way to get on board and get moving.

Is This Extra Work Really Necessary?

While experienced marketers may be able to run through these steps automatically without taking the time to map them out, most people will be far more successful if they take the time to follow a process that gently leads them down the path of a solid social media plan.

Most of the time when I lead clients through this process,  they tell me how much easier it makes it for them to fully understand what we're looking to do and how we'll be getting there. From the agency side, this process make it much easier for us to set concrete goals and to track them.

If we're not seeing quite the results we want in terms of new links, it's easy enough to go back through our plan and look at the content creation and outreach goals we set. We might read through it and say "oh, we forgot to install Tweet Meme" or "we've enabled all types of social sharing except Facebook Connect, let's explore that and see if sharing increases."

Remember, creativity may sit at the core of any social media outreach effort, but structure and planning are what build the foundation.

July 8, 2010

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.


Excellent Post, Jennifer. Your social media strategy is exactly what I preach to prospective customers (as I am a sales rep at HubSpot). So many prospects that I speak with every day do not even have a blog, yet all they want to know about is how to be successful with Social Media Sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. My response very similar to the structure of your Post in that I find myself telling prospects that they first need to start blogging and use their blog as a home base and social media hub prior to diving into social media networks and promoting the quality content that they create. I've written about this topic at my personal blog

This is a great post Jennifer, I was also struck by your remark that the blog is "home base." Couldn't agree more. I often feel strongly a blog should be central to a social media strategy.

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Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > Matching Tactics to Goals Enables a Stronger Social Media Plan