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I tweeted sometime last week that I thought part of the problem folks face with social media measurement and determining performance against metrics like ROI is that they don’t know how to create measurable objectives in the first place.

So let’s do a (bit of a long) drilldown of what measurable objectives look like, and all the parts around them.

Goals vs. Objectives

First, a quick definition clarification. Goals are your general intentions, the big picture aims. Your objectives are the outcomes that represent achievement of that goal. Things you can actually observe. In order to be classified as an objective, something to be measurable. You need a way of defining whether or not you have completed them successfully.

Strategies are the action plans you’ll execute to reach the objective. Tactics are the pieces and parts of the strategy. So that’s the hierarchy:

Goal >> Objectives >> Strategies >> Tactics.

If you’ve actually written a clear objective, it’s measurable by definition. (So the term is actually rather redundant). We good on that? Okay.

An Imaginary Scenario

Let’s say we’re a widget company of some generic stripe, and we’re going to write down some social media goals and objectives. They might look like this.

GOAL: To increase our company’s US brand footprint through participation in social media.

So, that’s the general end game you want to achieve. It’s big picture, and there can be any number of components that go into achieving that goal. Honestly, this is where a lot of people get stuck. They haven’t sat down and done the hard work to think about what it is they want to achieve and why.

A good way to write goals that have impact is to ask whether or not the goal you’re setting will somehow drive to goals that are up a level or two from your area of responsibility. So if your company has a vision that includes growth into, say, an international market, your marketing goals should be written with that at least partially in mind. If you’re in a specific marketing channel, like online or digital, your goals will want to reflect the overarching goals of the entire marketing or communications area.

That takes us to objectives.


All of these items follow the SMART methodology, which means they’re Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timed. But the key is that they outline

Note that for each of these, it becomes immediately apparent what you have to track. You need mechanisms to measure blog subscribers, evidence of produced TV episodes, membership tracking for your LinkedIn Group, and ways to tell how many fans you have on Facebook. And for the ones that have growth implied, like the first one, you need a so you know where you’re starting from, and can tell when you’ve achieved that 15% growth number.

If you say you want to measure something but you don’t have a process in place to do that or aren’t yet, go no further. If measuring success is something you’re serious about, you have to solve the measurement problem first. If you want to increase customer retention but don’t know how you’re defining or calculating that metric now, that’s the place to start.


Once you have the objectives written, you develop a strategy or set of strategies for each one. It’s like the roadmap for how you’ll get there. So let’s take the first one, increase blog subscribers by 15% in 6 months. Your strategies might include:

These are all the elements you’ll need to put in place to make the objective happen. Then, it’s time for the nitty gritty.


Tactics are the actual down and dirty execution steps you’ll need to take to support the strategy. It’s the detail work, really. So, for the first strategy above:

Designate a blogging team to contribute posts to the blog.

Your tactics might include sending out an email asking folks if they want to write for the blog, setting a meeting with your manager to select the contributors, setting up their profiles on the blog platform, and holding a training session for folks on the blogging admin tool. It’s all the actual execution steps you’ll need to take at the most fundamental level in order to make each strategy come together.

Measurement and ROI

Note something important: ROI is . Boy have we really warped this one in social media discussions.

Not everything you do has a return in itself that’s measurable in terms of dollars (which the root of the ROI equation). So if you’re looking for, say, the ROI on your blog, you’d have to figure out how it contributes directly to your revenue stream in order to measure true ROI. That would require mapping your blog traffic or subscribers to your lead pipeline and conversions in terms of dollars, and tracking how much you’ve invested in time and capital toward the effort.

Measuring , however, can be different than ROI. You can have successful that are not measurable in terms of dollars. Qualitative ones like awareness and reach, and quantitative ones like website traffic, media placements, or even things like Net Promoter Scores.

This is why you’re far more likely to be able to accurately and effectively calculate the ROI of your marketing or customer service efforts as a whole, but why it’s going to be much more tricky at a granular level, say, the ROI of your Facebook page alone. All of the successful outcomes, collectively,

But Do I Measure?

Sorry, no shortcut answer here. What you measure is entirely dependent on all the bits above, most especially your goal.

If your goal is better customer service, you measure things that indicate customer satisfaction like reviews, sentiment, positive comments/feedback, decreased “incident” reports from the call center. If your goal is brand awareness, you measure things like website traffic, share of conversation, media placements, volume of online chatter, or even standard market survey results.

Not every metric applies to every company or situation. And don’t try to measure every possible combination of factors. Pick three solid metrics and worry about those. Measurement is about tracking progress or lack of it. Not analyzing things to death.

See where I’m headed? The goals, if well considered, will guide you right to the kinds of metrics that are applicable. And heck. Create your own metrics. As long as they tangibly illustrate progress toward the goal you’ve set, they’re perfectly valid. Not every metric that’s been used for decades is bulletproof, anyway.

That’s The Crash Course.

The hard part is that I or anyone else can only ever give you the framework. The messy work of considering goals and doing the planning and measurement is yours alone. But that’s why you get paid the big bucks.

So does this help? Will it help someone you know or work with? Can you better articulate what you’re aiming for to your boss? Does it get you thinking a bit about how you can make your efforts – social media or otherwise – a bit more tangible?

Sound off in the comments.

Increase our blog subscribers by 15% in 6 months

There were some high-level discussions in Britain when the RAF committed to bombing cities in 1941-42. Some scientists argued that not only was bombing incapable of causing catastrophic economic damage to Germany, but the morale effects were unlikely to match anticipations. This was based on a survey of residents of (I think) Birmingham and Hull, who were hit heavily during the Blitz, and their resilience. There was also discussion of the effects of bombing in Abyssinia, of Japan in China, and in Spain. Most subsequent discussion revolved around the anticipated effects on the war effort, but in the minutes of a high-level meeting in November 1942, we find this argument:

“There was, however, one strong argument in favour of this heavy air offensive which had not yet been mentioned; piecemeal devastation of German cities would bring the horrors of home to the German people in a way that had not hitherto been possible. They might in this way be made to realise that aggression did not pay.”

That sort of argument would tend to negate the importance of the British experience. Of course, these questions have been debated for many decades, and the general consensus seems to be that British bombing policy was mainly a function of prewar doctrines anticipating the devastating effects of bombing, which were entrenched in the politics of the RAF as an independent service; and in the imperative to show support to the Soviets. Updated studies of the effects of bombing would generally have been subordinated to those established motivations.

In the American case, I’ve run into a July 1945 study by political scientist Quincy Wright , “Historical Studies of Casualties,” which attempted to correlate casualty counts with capitulation in historical wars. Wright had already published a macro-historical comparative study of wars in 1942, English Laundry Mens Grove Sneaker Black TUrLx
. I’m pretty sure this sort of study was inconsequential for policy, but it suggests that, at this time, the social-political dynamics of war were considered a pressing, unresolved problem, certainly academically.

In a notorious incident, the RAND Corporation later Original Penguin Penguin Mens Brown LA Suede Shoes THZ4ytJ
, including under what circumstances the US might consider capitulation – when this was learned by Congress, there were moves to defund the Air Force’s RAND contract.

Anyway, these are all isolated data points in a much larger picture of historical thought that remains to be synthesized. But it seems like something that can be profitably brought into the picture here.

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On your point about whether, by issuing a demonstration, the US would have been delineating an ethical line, which they might later be forced to cross in an indefensible way, I don’t quite see things the same way.

My sense has always been that the US-British response to the style of war in World War II – and particularly direct attacks on civilians – was that this kind of war was immoral, but that it had become necessary to avoid greater evil.

Some advocates are also concerned about how this thinking applies to animals in the wild. For instance: “ AR Zone: Intervention in nature may lead some to make the conclusion that since our primary goal is elimination of suffering, wouldn’t it be the ethical to want to destroy all wildlife (to end all suffering)? What are the arguments against this? Oscar Horta: Well, your question might sound absurd at first. But when one thinks about it… it’s actually a very hard one! I guess that the only response that question may have is that living is something good because having positive experiences is better than having no experiences at all. However, it’s true that our life may be filled with suffering, and that can be worse than ceasing to exist. That’s why euthanasia exists. So this really is a problem.” —ARZone. (March 19, 2011). Circus by Sam Edelman Womens Angel Wedge Sandal Pewter LUX0gs

AR Zone: Oscar Horta:

“This entry will focus primarily on two questions: first, whether present generations can be duty-bound because of considerations of justice to past and future people; and second, whether other moral considerations should guide those currently alive in relating to both past and future people. Concerning the first question, the entry will suggest that present generations have duties of justice to future people but not to past people. Concerning the second question, the entry will suggest that present generations also have additional moral duties (duties not grounded in correlative rights) to future people as well as moral duties to past people owing, in part, to the rights these people had while alive. The entry will also argue for the lasting significance of past injustices in terms of what is owed to the descendants of the direct victims of the injustices. These are contentious claims as the discussion will show.” —Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (2013–2015). Timberland Mens Euro Hiker Boot Brown elexjwT

This is especially contentious in the cases of humans who are thought to have less capacity for rational thought and action than others, such as children. In these cases the two main philosophical underpinnings for the concept of human rights, interests theory and will theory, can lead to different and sometimes surprising conclusions:

“The interests theory approach and the will theory approach contain strengths and weaknesses. When consistently and separately applied to the doctrine of human rights, each approach appears to yield conclusions that may limit or undermine the full force of those rights. It may be that philosophical supporters of human rights need to begin to consider the potential philosophical benefits attainable through combining various themes and elements found within these (and other) philosophical approaches to justifying human rights.” —Fagan, Andrew. Human Rights . Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

It’s worth noting that people concerned about wild animal suffering tend not to be certain which interventions really prevent it. For instance, the destruction of habitats leads to additional suffering in the short term, as animals starve, leave their home territory, or are otherwise harmed in the process. However, since animals in the wild may lead lives that are negative on balance, some think that destroying habitats where many animals live and replacing them with habitats which would support smaller overall populations could be beneficial. For instance:

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