Setting Goals for Your Social Media Marketing

Growth goals

At one point in the past year, you may have compared yourself to others. This happens with business owners who look at similar businesses and see ways their own business doesn’t match up. Maybe the other organization has more Facebook Page followers, or gets more comments on their Instagram posts. Indiscriminately comparing metrics is unhealthy, and doesn’t make sense. Here’s why.

Marketing is about influencing behavior. Marketing is not just about growing any metric and getting as much content out there like that old adage, “throwing spaghetti to the wall to see what sticks.” Your actions should be targeted to get the results you need for your business to succeed. So, ask yourself this question: what actions do you need your target audiences to take? And how can you help your targets to act?

You’ll find that what you need from your targets manifests a metric or two that are important because those metrics are connected to your goals. So, if you’re trying to make sales, click-throughs might be important. Through hashtag marketing, you might not even care as much about your follower count as you do about impressions. So, if you’re comparing yourself to another business that has more followers, and you don’t know if they are getting as many click-throughs as you, you’re bumming yourself out for no reason at all. Focus on YOUR goals and YOUR metrics.

There are two types of goals you need to be aware of when putting together your social media marketing strategy:

Type A goals come first

This is a goal you cannot fully control because you need your targets to achieve this for you. Your prospective and current customers must take the action. E.g., "I want to make 100 sales by 2019." This requires other people to purchase your products.

Type B goals are in a support role

You can control. E.g., "I want to read 25 books by the end of 2019," or "I want to send 2 newsletters per month to my contacts." Your targets do not need to do anything for you to reach that goal. That’s a goal you are setting for yourself. It’s a secondary goal, which should only exist if it supports your Type A goal.

Type A goals are used in setting Digital Marketing Strategy goals at the beginning, and Type B goals are used for actions you will take to help reach your Type A goals.

What’s not a goal

Consider these two statements:

  1. “I want 10,000 Twitter followers by May.”

  2. “I want 2,500 people on my email list in two weeks.”

Your Type A goal, when met, defines success for your business. If you had 10k Twitter followers, would you be ready for acquisition or could you pay your bills? Not directly. Your Type A goals should always impact your business directly.

Type B goals are approaches—actions YOU can take that you believe will positively impact your achievement of Type A goals.

Going back to the two statements above, “I want 10,000 Twitter followers by May” is phrased as a Type A goal (not totally in your control—people must take action to follow you), but also looks like a Type B goal (unless you are in the business of Twitter followers, those followers do not directly impact your business). Goals like this use what are called “vanity metrics”—they are vain, or useless, and not markers for success. Their vanity is that they are usually publicly displayed, on your social media profile, for example. This public display tricks you into putting undue attention on that metric.

These metrics also make it very hard for you to reach those goals because you have given up control where you shouldn’t. You have given up control of an approach goal, or Type B goal, which should be completely in your control. For example, your Type B goal could be “publish a daily post that encourages users to eat healthy and consider our solutions for doing so.” You can publish that daily post.

Goals are necessary

You might wonder why you can’t just work hard every day and get done what you can. Having goals is important for a few reasons. Some of those reasons include:

  1. Without a goal, you are likely less motivated to work, because you feel like you’re going faster than you really are.

  2. Or—you might overwork on things that aren’t really tied to your success.

  3. We can see what is achievable by setting short-term goals, or checkpoints for long-term goals. After getting past one checkpoint, if you exceeded what you thought you could achieve, you learn early that your goal was too easy. If you fall short, you know you need to stretch a little more. Knowing your limits helps you not overpromise your time or undervalue your services.

Set one Type A goal today, and pick a Type B goal that supports it. Then, get to work!

Photo by @charlesdeluvio

 

Use Batching to Be a More Efficient Content Creator

"batch"

Today's tip is called "batching" (as in, the verb "to batch").

Identify repeating content types

In order to "batch" content, you will first need to identify buckets, or types, of content that you might repeat (or have repeated in the past). For example, you often share recipes that involve new kitchen products you're selling. Or you have identified that to get people to your website, you want to share links to your blog posts. Yes, you have content that breaks the mold as well and gives surprises here and there, but today, we're focused on the "buckets" or types of content that recur to help you meet specific goals. 

What is batching?

"Batching" is the act of creating one "batch" of content at a time, meaning one group of content that is of the same type. In manufacturing, batch production allows a company to make many products on one machine, rather than buying several machines that run continuously. With cookies, for example, you can make all your chocolate chip cookies first, then move on to macadamia cookies, then oatmeal. The idea is to do a whole set at once.

How to batch effectively

In your social media content marketing efforts, consider your "buckets". Perhaps you've identified recipes, tips for kitchen tool maintenance, and spotlights of new products. Instead of creating Monday's recipe post, then the next day's product spotlight, then Wednesday's maintenance tip, then starting over with a recipe again, try batching. This means creating all of your recipe posts at once ahead of time as a batch so that then you have a few months of your Monday posts already done. Then move on to the next type of post and create multiple of that type of post in one sitting. 

Batching is a more efficient use of time because it creates less of a cognitive load. When you switch from one task to another, your mind has to acclimate to the new task, or "get in the groove." You will likely be slower the first time you do a task than the fifth time you do it in one sitting, even if it's a task you perform often. Once you "get in the groove," you are more efficient at the later iterations of the task. So it is with content creation. Reduce the number of times you have to switch from one task to another by doing many of one type of content in a series.

You can't do this with in-the-moment, live, or other unique posts, but at least with your repeating content you will become more efficient. For example, with an Instagram series, I created all of my "universe" images in one day (the stars and galaxies you've seen throughout the series). For me, this reduced the cognitive time and energy it would have otherwise taken to switch from one task to another. I became more efficient and reserved more time to spend on the serendipitous engagement with my community. 

Create a Simple Content Calendar

Apiarity Content Calendar

It's time for our Content Calendar exercise. You're going to need an actual calendar (physical or digital) or a 7x4 grid on a blank piece of paper. 🗓🗝

Alright. Lots of "social media gurus" talk about content calendaring and yes it is critical that you do this. Critical to your success, but also to your peace of mind.

Remember that list of types of content you made yesterday? Today, we're going to use that list. 📋

1. Consistency

Consistency is something that brings calm to your community. You can build in some consistency. So, take one content type that's going to help you reach your monthly goal (sales goal, signups goal, whatever your goal is—remember, it should be quantifiable). Now assign it to a day or multiple days on your calendar. For example, you decide every Tuesday and Thursday you'll publish posts about new inventory. 📅

2. Repeat

Go through this process again with another content type. Perhaps every other Monday you'll link to a blog post that will be published on your website. ⏰

3. Is it realistic?

Ask yourself if your calendar is realistic. Can you publish a social media post on each of those days? If you decided you want to publish a live video every Monday, do you have the time to do live video every Monday? If you have images you want to publish every day, but don't have the time every day to do so, consider using third-party software that will let you schedule ahead. 💻

Reduce Your Stress By Planning Ahead

Apiarity - Plan

By Stephanie Leishman

It feels so good to plan ahead. For example, I planned a month-long marketing strategy series for Instagram ahead of time, so publishing each post is a dream. I already know what is being published each day. It's great! I also did this with a friend last week who knows what content she needs each day, lessening the stress in her life. 

I shared two simple steps on Instagram for how to plan ahead.

1. What will you create?

Take your list of content and think of what you need to do to create that content.

Do you need images? Are you going to create those images or find stock images? (Please do not just take images off the Internet—that is usually a really bad idea unless they are public domain, licensed for your use, you paid for them, or you got permission.)

Also, do you need to write captions, and how detailed do those captions need to be? 

2. When will you create?

Plan on your calendar when you are going to have the time to create this content. It's that simple. If you don't figure out when you physically can make this happen, then you need to pay someone to make it happen. 

Planning ahead in simple ways like this takes a lot of the stress out of your work. Imagine if you are starting each day thinking about what to do, then writing and creating it, then getting it out there.

In your business, do you start each day trying to decide what to sell, then go out and buy it, then get back in time to put it on the shelves, price it, and sell it? Uh, no. That is ridiculous. You start the month, or the week (depending on the business) with a plan for what you want to sell, what has been selling well, how much to buy, when to put it on the shelves, etc. Why would you do any differently with social media content? Yes, there are times when something surprising comes up and you want to post about it, like an award or a trend, but living day to day not knowing what's going on with your social media... that's a lot of stress.

What methods do you use for planning ahead and reducing the stress in your life related to marketing activities? 

What Should Be the URL of My Blog?

Computer screen open, ready to set up your blog

One of you, my dear readers, just emailed me asking if the initial setup of your blog was looking good. I sent you a reply via email, and I thought that reply could be useful to others, so I've included the information here in a post as well. 

Choosing a blog URL: Subdomain vs. subfolder

When setting up a blog, some businesses find it easier to set up a subdomain, meaning their blog will live at a location that looks like this: blog.example.com. There are some benefits to doing this, but it is more beneficial to set up a subfolder (or subdirectory), which looks something like this: example.com/blog. The benefits of using a subfolder are usually an advantage for your SEO.  

Subfolders have more SEO value

Although there is some debate on this issue, many experts have built consensus around the idea that subfolders are more beneficial. This means that your blog URL should live in a folder on your site, e.g., example.com/blog. 

According to Dave Chaffey, "Google will crawl new blog posts typically within days of launch" and "Backlinks and social mentions generated by the content on the blog can help other [content] on the domain i.e. product pages rank more highly." 

Moz is one of the best sources for learning about SEO. Its SEO Learning Center states, "Search engines keep different metrics for domains than they do for subdomains, so even though Google itself has stated that — from a ranking perspective — content in subdomains and subdirectories is treated roughly equally, it's still recommended that webmasters place link-worthy content like blogs in subfolders rather than subdomains (i.e. www.example.com/blog/ rather than blog.example.com)."

Another great source for information related to SEO is SEO.com, where Andy Eliason writes, "While blogs on subdomains provide very little SEO value, some companies still choose to divide up their website this way." He says, "Blog integration is an important part of content marketing, and more and more of your SEO is going to rely on that high-quality, regularly produced content. You don’t want to separate all that good stuff from your main domain." 

Dharmesh Shah, the founder of Hubspot, shared the advice he got from his friend Rand Fishkin: "More recently, my friend (and co-creator of inbound.org) Rand Fishkin dug back into this topic ... I'll summarize his position: Use sub-directories if you can. They're better for SEO. Even though Google has stated it doesn't matter -- for now, it does seem to."