3 reasons to set Social Business goals

I was listening to an amazing podcast from Copyblogger’s Internet Marketing for Smart People Radio that featured John Carlton.  In this episode, John talks about his early days as a “slacker” without direction.  He recounts when he started getting his act together.  He talks about his early 30′s where he decided to take control of his life and set some goals.

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From slacker to “legendary copywriter” John got to where he was going because he set firm goals, stuck to it and accomplished what he set out to do.  It got me thinking about how important goals are in my own life, but also in the formation of the strategies we write for clients.

You see, we could just write a strategy for a client, pass it off to them and be on our way to the next client.  The strategy would contain the high level ideas of the transformation toward social business, it would list each recommended tactic…all without listing the goals.  What’s missing there is the singular point in time and space that a goal creates.  Goals are essential in the shift from “business as usual” to social business.  Goals are reminders of where we’re going.

Here are 3 reasons why you need to set goals if you want to become a social business.

1.  Shared purpose

Without goals, everyone is simply wandering without purpose, or more accurately, they are wandering around with their own individual purpose.  Businesses all have stakeholders, both internally and externally. These individuals include employees, boards members, vendors, partners and clients.   When a business engages its stakeholders emotionally and seeks to create alignment around a specific set of outcomes, the chances of  achieving those outcomes is dramatically improved.

Setting goals and making them open and available, will create a shared sense of purpose among internal and external stakeholders, provided that the goals and outcomes are created and positioned to create value for all parties involved.

For instance, we want 200 more email subscribers for this blog in the first 6 months of 2013.  This helps us to fund the creation of content for this site.   If you enjoy the content on this site and find it valuable, please tell someone about this blog and encourage them to subscribe.  If you help us get there, we will be grateful and appreciative, if you do not then we know that we haven’t enrolled you in the purpose, or you just think our blog sucks.  In either case, we now know that you know one of the goals we’re trying to accomplish.

2.  Keeping score

Setting goals will keep everyone focused on a single point in time and space.  Goals that are S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) can be assessed along the way.  This allows everyone to know where they stand at a given point in time.  It makes it easy to keep score and also to update everyone that is participating.  If our goals is to generate 200 more subscribers in the first 6 months of 2013 and we get to May with only 1 new subscriber, we know that we are failing.  If a client’s goal is to build a knowledge base of 10,000 articles over 6 months and after 2 months they are at 8,000, it’s easy to see that something is working.

3.  Starting…and then starting again.

You have to start somewhere and no matter what, we’re always starting something.  The shift towards social business is an ongoing process with checkpoints along the way.  With every success, failure, mistake or random win, we are starting again.  Every time something happens that causes a course correction, we can draw a new line in the sand, put down a new point in the future and align around attaining it.  We walk towards the new goal armed with what we learned from before.

No company becomes a social business overnight.  It often starts with social media marketing and over time seeps into other areas of the business allowing for greater efficiencies and results across all business units.  Without goals to start with, the prospect of undertaking the shift toward social business is too much to handle at once.  Each new set of goals, is a chance at a fresh start.

You may or not believe in the law of attraction but…

if you are one of those that believes in “the secret” or quantum physics, or any other theory that believes you get what you ask for, then you know how important it is to focus on what you want.  Writing down goals, if nothing else, provides a clear point of focus in the future.

Organizations that deploy social tools without thought or goals are bound to struggle as there is no shared purpose, no way to keep score, and no clear way to learn from the mistakes and start fresh.