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An introduction to SMART objectives

Learn the key components of a SMART objective and some tips about how to set them in the context of social media.
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How often do you set yourself goals that, despite your best intentions, somehow seem to drift away from you? Perhaps your ambitions were too vague, or without a deadline, you lacked motivation. If you’re serious about achieving your objectives, consider making them SMART. This is a simple process to ensure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timed. Setting SMART goals helps you clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, and use your time and resources productively, increasing your chances of success. Let’s look at this one by one. Specific– the more precise your goals, the easier it will be to determine success. You should ask yourself, what do I really want to accomplish? Why is this important?
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What would I consider to be a successful outcome? Measurable– if your outcomes are too vague, how will you know when you’ve achieved them? Setting your metrics for success will help you monitor your progress, and stay focused and motivated. So make sure your objectives state the metrics you will be monitoring, and the goal you’re setting yourself.
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Achievable– yes, it’s great to be ambitious, but your goals also need to be realistic and attainable. While high targets might be initially exciting, you’ll soon lose motivation if they start slipping away from you. Ask yourself, is this realistic? Am I the best person to do this? Relevant– this test is about making sure you are focusing your energy where it’s needed. If you’re not sure, ask yourself, does this seem worthwhile? Is this outcome really within my control? Time-bound– every goal needs a deadline to help you to plan and prioritise effectively. Setting this will help you pick your priorities, and stop other tasks getting in the way. Work this out by asking, when do I need to achieve this by?
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How long will it take me to complete?

SMART is an acronym for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timed.

It is designed to support employees in setting objectives that are effective. Each of the 5 steps in creating SMART objectives contribute towards this.

Specific – direct and unambiguous description of the outcome

The more specific an objective is, the more you’ll be able to focus on it and the more likely your success will be. Try answering the five ‘W’ questions – Who, What, Where, Why, and Which. These can really help to reach a useful level of specificity.

Measurable – quantifiable in plain numbers

For an objective to be useful, you need to know when you achieved it. How exactly will you measure the success of your activity? Think about the metrics you’ll need to obtain, and how you’ll get them.

Achievable – realistically do-able within practical and resource constraints

It’s great to have ambitious goals. There’s even a term for that – a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) – which many of the world’s most visionary brands use for their corporate goal-setting. But for the digital and social media campaigns that contribute to these wider business goals, we must have more realistic aims. We must ensure the presence of the requisite resource, budget, skills and time to achieve them.

Relevant – objectives that contribute to the wider business aims

A relevant objective is one that is directly derived from and aligned with wider marketing or business goals. Does it drive forward those broader aims? Is it the right time for this?

Timed – built around a specific timeline.

Quite simply, every objective needs a deadline.

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