For some reason, many of the most important parenting moments happen in the car, driving to or from school or the grocery store. It’s when the kids ask the BIG questions that have been on their minds: Does the sun still shine at night even though it’s dark? Where does all that trash go? How do babies get in your tummy (YIKES!)? And yesterday, my four year-old son asked, “Momma, can you get me an air guitar?” Without hesitation I cupped my hand, reached over the passenger seat and presented the air to him. “Sure, I have an air guitar right here!” Apparently, he was more than a little confused about what an “air guitar” might be. I thought I was handing him what he asked for, but when I did so, I got the usual “NO MOMMA!” response. How am I supposed to know what he wants when he doesn’t know how to ask for it?
Many companies and organizations are in the same place when it comes to social media – they know they want to use it, or should use it, but aren’t sure what the end result might look like. As a mom, sometimes I feel like I have to read my kids’ minds in order to figure out what mysterious creature of the night has taken over their bodies, resulting in fits of tears (my secret trick, start with a hug – who cares why? If that doesn’t work, try a story, a nap, or a walk outside). As a communications professional, I can’t go around offering cupped hands of air to my clients, nor do I particularly want to hug them or read a cuddly story. Using social media once caused me to curl in the fetal position under my desk – and like most fear, that was because I couldn’t define it.
The first step of any social media plan should include defining the organization’s goals, figuring out how they can be enhanced by social media, and determining how we will measure success. Unlike the air guitar, social media sites offer us many (often free) ways to measure the success of our social media plans, including web traffic, search volume trends, increases in followers/friends, the time spent on a site, the number of recommendations or reviews. A successful campaign might double or triple the number of friends your organization has on Facebook, the number of retweets each time you post, increased sales, increased your share in conversations (the number of times your company/organization is mentioned online), or an increase in number of volunteers or donations. A recent AdWords campaign led to three times the number of visits to my blog. Unless my mom was really bored one day, that’s a huge increase! However you define success, it’s important to step back on a routine basis to evaluate whether or not you are doing what you set out to do, if your original goals are still relevant and where you want to go from here.