All top social performers started with a well-thought out, well-reasoned pragmatic approach. They all had specific goals and knew how much leeway they were willing to give to achieve those goals. This was very important; they knew what their goals were -- they all had definable targets going in -- and how much slippage they'd allow themselves.
This planning gave some companies the ability to quit their campaigns before they were buried by them. You'd be surprised how many businesses decided to go social without doing sufficient research to know if a) it made sense for them, b) how they should do it (not every business should go social the same way), and c) when to pull out.
The best approaches had evidentiary trails that were defendable. An evidentiary trail is like a business plan in reverse. It explains where you've been, why you went there, and what caused you to move on. Evidentiary trails provide forensics, so you'll know what to do and what not to do in your next efforts.
"Defendability" means there were rational decisions, not gut reactions, for each step. Some approaches may fail, and defendable, evidentiary trails let you know how and why they failed, as well as how to avoid failure in the future.
Every successful social effort involved rigorous, accountable metrics. When you consider the success of pragmatic approaches, you understand that successful efforts had to have reliable, undeniable, accountable metrics. You can't figure out when things are going sour without them.
Likewise, reliable daily snapshots allowed social marketing managers to do micro-adjustments. Micro-adjustments are like little, tiny course corrections you perform when you're steering your car down the highway.
These little, tiny adjustments keep you where you need to be at any given moment while you're on your way to your goal (social marketing success). Performing these little, tiny adjustments also helps you make smooth transitions from lane to lane or highway to off-ramp when the time is right. There are no violent adjustments that panic everybody in your car and in the cars around you. You get where you want to go safely and in good time.
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1 Marketing jargon translated for normal people
2 The most meaningless (and hilarious) job titles on LinkedIn
3 6 top social media management tools
4 The marketing jobs with the fastest turnover
5 The best social media campaigns of 2013