Have you ever had a project so large you became overwhelmed? In order to get it done, you probably broke down that massive project into smaller pieces and worked on them one at a time. Marketing strategies are no different. We call those small pieces objectives.
Objectives are measurable steps you take to achieve a larger strategy. This is the item that social media managers work towards and report on (not more followers/subscribers.) It’s the success/failure metric. This is the true carrot.
Every Project Needs Objectives
My students struggle with understanding objectives and it’s my responsibility as an educator to find the language, the analogies, the methods of conveying this terribly important skill in order for them to be successful in using social media. They must know how to break down campaigns into achievable steps.
Projects exist in every area of our lives. Graduating from high school or college, buying a house, starting a business, applying for a loan, having a child – everything major you’ve accomplished was broken down into steps you had accomplish. Simply nothing would get done if we didn’t have tasks that led to targets or benchmarks for performance.
I Saw the Light
I’ve been teaching social media marketing for 10 years and one day last semester, while reflecting on how I was going to cover the upcoming lesson, I “saw” the visual for the objective formula as clear as day. I grabbed a pen and drew it out. When I stood back and looked at it, I knew this was the easiest way I’d ever seen it presented. My students would be able to see it too. And I knew I had to share it with you.
I’ve used many great resources over the years on how to write them, my favorite being Beth Kanter’s, but I needed a visual. Let me break down the sections for you. When we’re done, you can fill in the elements for your own objectives.
Element A is about increasing or decreasing. You want something to happen, right? That’s the whole reason you have a strategy in the first place – you don’t want things to stay the same. Up or down?
(*Decrease is a rare choice. In fact, I’ve never had someone identify they wanted to decrease something in a strategy. The only instance I can think of would be reducing the amount of time it takes to respond in an online customer service situation or decreasing bounce rate on a web page. If you have good examples of this need, PLEASE tell me in the comments!)
Element B is the thing you want to change. Sales, subscribers for an email list, web traffic, attendees to your event, financial sponsors, new member$, or leads. If you want more than one on this list, you have two objectives. Focus on one at a time.
Element C is preceded with the word “by.” This is the specific amount you will be increasing or decreasing. You need an exact number for benchmarking and “more” isn’t a number. It’ll be a flat number (#) or a percentage (%). In order for you to know if you’ve been successful, you’ll also need to have a baseline measurement. Example: if you want to increase web traffic by 50%, you’ll have to know what your current traffic numbers are in order to quantify the exact increase.
Element D is preceded with the word “using.” You’ll be using one of these tools to achieve success. As this is a sample list you may not see your chosen tool(s). There’s an option “social media” for those campaigns that are using an array of platforms rather than a single option.
Element E is preceded with the word “by.” You’re setting the end date or the end of the measurement period. Your options are a specific date, a range like end of quarter, or the date of your event.
(*Pro tip – don’t use “by end of year” as your Element E. It’s too far away, you need shorter intervals to stay on track.)
A Variety of Examples
Example 1 – Increase web traffic to lead page by 50% using Facebook by 12/31/19.
Example 1 Broken Down – (a) Increase (b) web traffic to lead page by (c) 50% using (d) Facebook by (e) 12/31/19.
Example 2 – Increase sales by 10% using email marketing by end of Q2.
Example 2 Broken Down – (a) Increase (b) sales by (c) 10% using (d) email marketing by (e) end of Q2.
Example 3 – Increase event attendees by 150 using LinkedIn by event date.
Example 3 Broken Down – (a) Increase (b) event attendees by (c) 150 using (d) LinkedIn by (e) event date.
You Are On Your Way!
Feel free to build your own and show me in the comments. Just like my students, I’ll give you feedback to help optimize your strategy. With defined measurable objectives, there’s no stopping you!