6 Steps to a Stronger Organization in the New Year
by Julie Niehoff, Constant Contact Regional Development Director, Texas
As the time approaches to look at 2011 in the rear-view mirror, it’s important to think about what’s going to drive your business or organizational growth in 2012. With the pace of marketing speeding up thanks to social media and other tools, knowing what’s in store and how you can respond will better equip you for success moving forward.
Here are six things we think will be important as you kick-off the new year.
1. Start with a plan. Set specific goals. As always it’s important to put together a roadmap to get you to the finish line. Don’t waste time on things that aren’t designed to move you forward. Without a roadmap it’s easy to get detoured. Keep your eyes on the road to success. Not sure where to start? Try this simple process: Set one big objective for the year, one for each quarter, and maybe one for each month. Keep them simple, and make sure they are plausible — it’s no fun working toward a goal that you know is not attainable.
2. Measure success with your own benchmarks. As you set your goals, be sure to focus on what’s important to YOUR business or organization. It’s easy to feel like you’re falling behind when you’re comparing yourself to others that may be miles ahead. Remember, not everyone is in the same race. One quick way to do this is to measure against last year’s monthly numbers. This is easy and it helps to accommodate for naturally slow times of the year. It also gives you a clear picture of what to expect.
3. Experiment. As we look at how social media is constantly evolving, remember that most people are still relatively new to this. It’s okay not to be perfect. Try new things and evaluate the results. Measuring what happens is the key — and even if you don’t get the results you want, there is value in the attempt because you can see what didn’t work. That’s valuable information! Keep what works and throw away what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to fail. You just might surprise yourself. (Want ideas? Check out our social media resources to find inspiration.)
4. Be mobile friendly. People are relying more and more on their mobile devices to consume and find information. It’s time to give serious consideration to making your digital communications mobile friendly. If these mobile users can’t find what they want when they want it, your business or organization may be left eating dust. Something to watch out for: If your website is specifically optimized to work with mobile devices, it’s possible that your email and social media links to specific pages of your website will not work properly on a phone. This is because an optimized site will sometimes default, automatically, to the mobile version and the link you used might not be compatible. Not sure if you’re mobile ready? Send test messages to yourself, friends, or family, and have them read and respond on their phone or tablet. You’ll know quickly if it’s working or not working and can adjust as needed.
5. Be yourself. Find your voice. We can use the word “interactive” all day long to describe video games, ATM machines, and self-check-in at the airport. But it should be a word we use to describe human interaction, as people get to know each other. Why do you think it’s called “social” media? Because it helps to break down barriers between people and allows for genuine, authentic connection. These tools make it easy and inexpensive to manage many relationships, and to give your audience a real sense of who you are.
How do you do it well? First, write in a conversational tone; that just means that you should write the way that you speak, not the way that you would write a brochure. Second, use photos of people — yourself, colleagues and customers (with their permission) or even stock photos. Pictures of people make a big difference. And last, every once in a while, include clues to who you really are, away from work or away from sales. Maybe you’re in a band, or you volunteer for an organization whose mission is important to you. Whatever you’re comfortable with. The point is to pull back the curtains a little bit. Show who you really are — these are the messages and posts that your audience will respond to the most. One quick word to the wise, though: This only works if you’re genuine. If you try to fake it, people will know. Likewise, if you are authentic, people will know that too.
6. Take it offline. As much as we focus on the importance of the online world, nothing holds the same power as meeting in person. Whenever possible, leverage those online acquaintances with offline events that bring people together. You’ll strengthen the relationships that can lead to long-term growth. You can use email and social media to ask people for a one-on-one meetup. Establish a way for people to schedule time with you and keep the appointment. By phone or in person — in whatever capacity you can manage — these connections will grow to be your strongest and quickest outlet for growth.
Those are just some of the things we’re thinking of as we gear up for a great 2012. We’re looking forward to seeing you at the finish line. Here’s to a bountiful New Year!