Always Have a Goal

Stop reading this post and think for just a second: What is one of your goals in life? (Personal or professional.)

I’ll wait…

If you don’t have one, it’s time to start thinking. If you have just one – that’s a great start! If you have multiple, well, kudos to you!

In my previous job, I never had a longterm goal. When people asked me what I saw in my future, I honestly didn’t know. I wanted a  job I enjoyed, a happy family, and a good life – but that’s about as far as my vision went. I knew having goals was important, but I just didn’t know what I wanted to do.

Then I started training for a marathon. That was a goal. It was personal, it wasn’t professional, but it was a start. After finishing my first marathon, the goal from there was just to be healthy. I adopted a pretty normal exercise routine and continued to register for races. Signing up for a race 10 months in the future was an easy way to create a goal. But I was still only thinking personal, not professional.

When I started my current job in August 2012, I had the opportunity to go back to school. After working here for a semester, I began classes in the spring, knowing it would take 5 semesters to complete my master’s degree. Today, I was working on gathering paperwork together to submit my application for graduation and to schedule comps. This will all be over in August. My goal will be completed.

Coming to this realization, I decided to set my next goal. Getting my APR. I know, there’s a split debate on the value of becoming an APR, but for right now it’s the only certification (that I’m aware of) in our field. So why not strive for it? I haven’t fully looked into the process, so I don’t yet have a timeframe, but it’s a start. I know now that once I complete my goal of attaining my master’s degree, I know the next step. And that’s important.

I still don’t have a BIG goal. I don’t think they just come to you. They take time to develop, and you truly have to want it. There’s no point in making up a goal you don’t want, because you won’t work towards it. Find out what you want – set that goal – and do it.

How can you continue to grow if you don’t know where you’re going?

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The importance of a social media plan

Everyone always talks about social media plans, but who actually does them? I mean isn’t the whole point of social media to be current news and information – how can you plan ahead for a future you don’t know about? You know who does social media plans: organizations who are successful on social media. It’s not a fluke that some of your favorite brands on social media are successful – they plan ahead.

I recently made my first social media plan. It was a bit overwhelming at first trying to figure out where to start, but I knew that all great plans started with research, so that’s where I began. I wanted to develop a social media plan for our local United Way. They’re starting a new marketing campaign to reach Millennials, so I figured I could help them out by planning the social media aspect of it all. So I researched Millennials, which social media they are one, which social media is most popular, how nonprofit organizations are currently using social media, recommended tips for nonprofits on social media, and more. Then I went into an in-depth audit of United Way SEMS’s current social media. With these two primary groupings of information combined, I felt educated enough to begin to make plans for United Way SEMS to be successful in their social media efforts. I didn’t compose tweets or Facebook posts, but provided a general outline that will help guide their efforts over the next four months. You can check out the paper here.

If you haven’t done a social media plan before, here’s a basic outline that will help get you started.

  • Background Research
    • Why should you even be on social media?
    • How is social media being used by other companies in your field?
    • How does your target market interact with social media?
    • How have other companies been successful in reaching this target market in the past?
  • Social Media Audit
    • Describe the organization; What is their mission? How is their social media managed?
    • How are they currently using social media? Breakdown each platform individually
  • Social Media Action Plan: Goals/Objectives
    • What does the company want to achieve?
    • What is the overarching marketing goal, outside of social media?
    • What are SMART objectives for each platform?
  • Social Media Action Plan: Strategies/Tactics
    • What strategy will you use to achieve this goal and these objectives?
    • What tactics did your research provide that indicate how the company can be successful on social media?
  • Measurement/Evaluation
    • What tools will you use to measure the success of this campaign?
  • Summary
    • What’s the big take-away from it all?

This is just the general outline I used to create my social media plan. I’m sure there are a million more ways to do it, each with their own pros and cons. I hope you too will take the time to create a social media plan, so your business can reach its fullest potential on their social media.

Why should social media be part of your New Year’s resolution?

At the start of the new year, it’s a tradition to set resolutions. According to History.com, this tradition is thought to date back to the ancient Babylonians, who made promises to the gods for a prosperous year ahead. While the idea of making resolutions has held strong, actually following through on a resolution has lost its luster. As a regular guest of the gym, I can attest to this and always look forward to March when the crowds get back to normal.

About a week into 2014 I realized I didn’t set any goals for myself. I felt a little guilty (if I don’t have an annual goal, what am I working towards in 2014?). On the other hand, when is the last time I actually set a realistic goal and worked towards it every day?

So while we’re already a few weeks into the new year, I’ve decided to make a resolution, and hope you’ll join me. It’s only four words, but sums up exactly what I want to do: use social media wisely. Why?

  • Make connections online that you would miss in person.
    Find the beauty in making international friends while sitting on the couch in your PJs.
  • Ensure your online presence is what you want it to be.
    Just because you aren’t involved in all of the latest social media trends, doesn’t mean you’re not online. Google yourself – you may be surprised in what you find.
  • Learn more about yourself
    You’ll be surprised what you learn about yourself when you decide to put yourself out there. I find myself asking even more often now “How do I want to be perceived?”

What are your goals for 2014 – and more importantly, WHY did you make them?