Return on Effort: It’s All About Your Goals

As the digital and social world continues to emerge, the main reaction I get from non-marketer and marketer alike is: bemusement. As in: “I’d like to understand what all this social/online stuff is, but I can’t find the time.”

After the bemusement reaction, the other main theme I hear is summed up in this question: “Is the effort worth it?”

Well, that is the question, isn’t it?

Clear Up the Confusion with Goal-Setting

To my mind, the best way to answer the “Is It Worth It?” question is to answer another question, “What is your goal when it comes to digital marketing?” Once you’ve answered that, you can set up a reasonable tactical plan to help you achieve it. Once you’ve done this, the fear and uncertainty surrounding social media tend to dissipate. Every action becomes framed within your goal, making the actions more worthwhile and understandable.

Me? The goal of my own involvement in social and digital channels is quite simple: “to learn.” Yes, it’s not a very quantifiable goal, but it’s a goal nonetheless. That colors decisions I make, such as:

  • To regularly force myself to write, which forces me to learn new things and develop my writing and communication skills. Face it, merely reading a book does not offer the return on effort that writing a research paper does.
  • To reach out, follow, and engage with people I don’t know. I find it easiest to meet new people on Twitter and Google+ rather than LinkedIn. My target audience tends to be other marketers. It also means marketers who aren’t necessarily in my field of professional services.
  • To constantly push the boundaries of my activities – speaking, writing, commenting, and so forth.
  • To take risks, because that’s the best way to learn. My goal is not a finite goal – say, of achieving $x from online channels in 2014. But I can measure it, month by month. When I can offer up new marketing ideas at work, provide marketing advice that results in new opportunities for my clients, and pull in larger audiences for our inbound marketing program, then I know my “to learn” goal is having a tangible effect.

In essence, when I can bring new ideas to the work I’m doing and the discussions I have, then I know I’ve learned, because I’m teaching.

Photo credit: Mariano Kamp / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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