S.M.A.R.T. Business Goals: Listening Vs Hearing in Social Media

1Every industry has an acronym, catchy name, or phrase to represent a system for refining the quality and efficiency of their operation. We’ve often seen them associated with manufacturing, using phrases and words like “just in time”, Lean”, “Taguchi” or “Kaizen” (Japanese). At their core, they represent a return to common-sense ideas and attempt to filter-out the cumulative behaviours (bad habits) that have led to inefficiencies.

SMART works to improve social media goals for brands, which can be summarized by an increase in sales, lower costs, and an increase in customer satisfaction. SMART places emphasis on what works. The underlying theme incorporates the use of investigative tools for planning, and forces the project manager or team leader to address some key questions:

  • Why is there a need to act?
  • What are your objectives and when do they need to be completed?
  • Where will your efforts be concentrated and what resources are at your disposal?
  • Who’s involved and what do they bring to the project?

Note: The letters “S” and “M” have historically meant “specific” and “measurable”. However, the other letters have taken on slightly different meanings over the years. Inspired by one of the first uses of the acronym (George Doran, 1981), we break it down into the following terms:

1) Specificity helps define your goals in the simplest terms possible, by assessing every detail of your situation. An example of specificity is knowing which social media to target.

2A lack of specificity can lead to mission creep, where the goals of the project become cluttered.

2) Measurable data is always preferable over qualitative feedback (understanding that ideally, both could be used together to produce the best results). When applied to milestones, it’s an indicator of progress and performance. With social media, we’re talking about likes, +1’s, retweets or any other type of measurable feedback from the social media user.

3) Assignability speaks to whether or not a group or individual can be assigned a task with the expectation of delivering satisfactory results. Understanding assignability helps with decisions about the viability of a project. Examples include areas like site development, but can include engagement with the customer. It can also pertain to development tools for SEO, for example.

4) Realistic goals generally refer to whether or not tasks can be realistically achieved. Drilling down into the details of a project, we realize that it can also prompt us to take a closer look at milestones and spot any flaws in them. Here’s one possible scenario: If you’re looking for enhanced SEO as a result of increased +1’s, for example, the goal might be difficult to measure since Google doesn’t share it’s methodologies or algorithms. An educated guess could be reached, but a firm number may not be realistic.

5) Time-related generally refers to when the objective of a project can be realistically achieved. Specifically it can refer to constraints, whether created by the team (your deadlines) or introduced as an uncontrolled element (the customer’s deadlines) in a project. Imposing realistic milestones affords one the ability to be alerted to problems early, if they are accurately tracked. For example: Your desired metrics could be a rate (retweets per day, etc.). However, it’s more likely to be the timing of a project as it coincides with a sales promotion.

As a project management tool, SMART is not limited to promoting your brand. It can certainly be applied to efforts that evaluate the success of your competitors.

When we “hear” good feedback on social media, we may pat ourselves on the back in celebration, without any idea of the larger benefits (or consequences) of our actions. When we “listen”, we understand the feedback we collect and can quantify our achievements (or failures) and how it affects on your brand.

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