A Successful Social Media Campaign Needs a North Star

You already know the conventional wisdom of social media—that it’s a remarkable tool for your business, able to generate awareness for your brand, support and engagement for your customers, and promising leads for conversion.

Social platforms have an unprecedented ability to connect you with new and existing customers, creating channels in which learning and connection can flow in both directions.

But deciding how to best use social media to connect with those customers and to grow your business can be a murky endeavor, and as various social platforms evolve and change their algorithms, earning that positive ROI is ever more challenging.

You’re not alone. Less than half of marketers admit to seeing a return on investment from social media, which could reflect a failure to use the right platforms in the right ways, or confusion on how to best measure social media’s impact on business.

It’s easy to lose one’s way while using social media. Between follower counts, @mentions, publishing schedules, and shifting platform trends, the best path forward can prove elusive. Where should you spend your time, money, and energy? And as platforms tinker with the unpaid visibility given to brands, it seems like you find your feet just as the ground beneath you shifts again.

Your social media campaign needs a north star, a fixed point of reference, the main goal that will keep your team on the right course. A metric that will help you determine both the value your business brings to your customer, and the impact your efforts make to your bottom line. Are you solving a customer’s problem while also generating revenue? How do you know?

A north star can guide your team faithfully through the journey of a campaign’s lifecycle, offering a steady point of reference as you make the small adjustments and course corrections that’ll keep you on track.

A north star metric offers three strategic aims:

  • It provides your campaign—and your team—with clarity and focus.
  • It demonstrates the campaign’s progress and impacts on your entire organization.
  • It holds the campaign accountable to a result.

Weighing Possible North Stars

Your campaign’s north star metric should be a leading indicator of future success. Lagging indicators like monthly revenue or blog traffic may record past success but won’t predict future revenue.

Examine your customer’s journey of retention and identify the early actions that predict future business success. To measure their own growth, for example, Facebook in its infancy chose the key metric of “number of users adding 7 friends in the first ten days.”

Choose a goal for the campaign that fits the S.M.A.R.T. paradigm:

  • Specific: Example: “The number of weekly users completing their first order.”
  • Measurable: Use analytics to monitor content performance and engagement, providing insights as well as targeting your most responsive followers across social channels.
  • Aspirational: For best results, choose a goal that is both a stretch AND attainable.
  • Relevant: The goal aligns with your business’ main objectives.
  • Time-Based: Campaign start and end dates are crucial for keeping costs and mission creep in check, and for comparing metrics before and after.

The current growth stage of your business may dictate the best north star. You could choose goals that would increase awareness of your brand, or the breadth and/or depth of your engagement with your audience. You could focus on increasing customer conversions, generating leads, or designing methods to better serve and retain your active customers. A campaign could also center on attracting online influencers or establishing partnerships with like-minded brands.

The best north star metric will align with all of your organization’s current marketing and business efforts, keeping your team on track so that you can avoid the distractions that would muddy your campaign’s waters.

Choose the Best North Star

Let’s take a look at one example of a campaign goal, one that your executives, in particular, will care about: the conversion rate.

Conversions are actions a social media follower could make on a page (subscribe to your newsletter, begin a trial membership, download an app, etc.) after following a link from your post. To determine your conversion rate, divide the number of conversions by the page’s total visitors.

A high conversion rate means you’ve kept your promise to your social media follower—your post content was highly relevant to the offer made. It’s a good idea to keep your customer’s needs and pain points at the center of your goal selection process—teams that fail to connect customer value to their north star metric could quickly run their business efforts aground.

Know Your Current Landscape

A north star metric would be futile—and a campaign pointless— without a baseline. Map your current geography before setting off on your campaign’s journey. Take a good hard look at your current conversion rate.

Examine the data tracking your traffic from various social channels to help you determine which platforms your target audience prefers, and where you can focus your campaign. One platform may drive less traffic than others, but deliver a higher percentage of repeat purchases, subscriptions, traffic, or downloads.

Use analytics for data on core demographics—get to know your customer, their needs and values, before you craft the first word of your first post. How will you address the familiar concerns and objections a follower has before making the conversion?

  • Does anyone else I know use this service? What do they think of it?  Do I really need this product? Can I get by without it?
  • Can I really afford it? Do I need it now? What are similar products?

Once you’ve chosen a higher conversion rate as your north star, and you keep your course aligned with that fixed point, your campaign and team will be far less likely to waste time chasing higher follower counts or Twitter mentions. These vanity metrics can still prove useful to your overall business, but for right here, right now, this goal for this quarter, focus on getting those followers to take action.

With that north star in mind, your planning can continue. You may have more groundwork to finish before going social.

For conversion rates, for example, you could ensure in phase one that: · Your site is easy to understand and navigate

  • Your site is optimized for mobile browsing
  • Your product or service is readily grasped
  • Your “about” page offers a compelling story

Once your site is up to par, you might consider the following in phase two:

  • All links in all posts on every platform point to the most relevant page (often not the landing page).
  • Create unique landing pages for each social platform—easing the transition to your site for your prospective customer.
  • Create various versions of the same post and measure their individual impact.
  • Integrate customer testimonials to offer evidence and social proof.
  • Leverage helpful influencers.

Keep Your Eye on Your Customer

Now for a little caveat: a campaign’s north star should guide your team without blinding them to the importance of your customer’s experience, even if the actions are taken to engage with them only lead indirectly to conversion.

Keep your customer foremost: create posts that speak to a customer’s pain or desire. Offer content that informs, relieves or entertains. Listen, respond, and track customer compliments and complaints. The old-school approach of sharing consistent and valuable content, sending timely responses, and acting like a human will earn your customer’s trust on their path to conversion.

Conversions can’t exist in a vacuum—doing the work to retain and engage the customer after a conversion is always worth the effort. Long-term customers are more likely to advocate for your business, share your content, and defend you from critics.

With a north star guiding your campaign and your team, you can avoid the common perils of fuzzy social media marketing. Hard data will demonstrate to your entire organization that the effort of engaging with customers in social media channels can result in positive ROI. Just keep your team focused on the north star metric, and your campaign’s path will become clear.