Setting objectives to tap into new influence circles

April 10, 2009

Beyond being new tools to reach audiences, social media/networking tools can easily foster and enable attention deficit disorder (ADD). This is why the very first thing companies must do when considering using social media is to set clear objectives. Moreover, objectives need to be set both internally and externally. What are your objectives internally for using social media tools to connect with customers, influencers and partners? Likewise, what do you want to achieve with external audiences by using social media. Both are explored below.

Internal objectives

Given the newness of social media in enterprise environments, conceptualizing objectives for communications, marketing, sales and development groups is not an easy undertaking. There are some baseline objectives that must be considered:

• Communication objectives
– Listening to the narrative about your solutions
– Mapping the influence landscape (who’s influencing who?)

• Marketing objectives
– Identify new brand ambassadors (i.e. moms/students)
– Test messages/campaigns with internal audiences

• Sales objectives
– Learn from communities new tactics to tell better stories
– Showcase sales wins more quickly (Twitter about new win when deal is signed)

• Development objectives*
– Crowdsource concepts
– Use social media to test new ideas
– Expose thought leadership through posts/Tweets
*these could also be leveraged externally depending on the appetite/confidentiality of the initiative.

External objectives

External objectives are similar, but there are some important nuances to consider. Whereas internal use of social media is targeted at colleagues and peers, social media usage for external purposes are more focused on customers, partners and influencers, thus the lens is a bit different. Some objectives to consider:

• Communication objectives
– Extending ongoing and starting new conversations
– Enhancing reach of stories

• Marketing objectives
– Utilize new media to enhance brand awareness
– Drive market share/connection with brand

• Sales objectives
– Expedite customer connectedness (more value conversations)
– Enhance openness/transparency with customers/partners

A good way to look at formulating objectives for social media initiative is in the context that the internal informs the external. A key question to keep in mind when launching a new influencer program using social media tools is: Will my story resonate with new influencers and can I use blogs, Twitter and communities to tell it? Only by listening to the narrative, identifying the right influencers and participating in a conversational way can you ensure that your message and story will resonate in the digital marketplace.

Acknowledging that these are high level guidelines, what am I missing? What other objective setting lessons have you learned? I’d love to hear your thoughts.