Social Media Planning for Heritage Organizations: Differentiating Goals, Objectives & Tactics

4356276243_6b45e58033_bA lot has changed for heritage organizations since the advent of social media. What has remained pretty constant are the elements of a good strategic communications plan. Social media provides strong tactics for strategic planning, and will probably even change the way you think about communicating. But social media shouldn’t be set apart from the normal strategic communications process.

The key is taking your good ideas and intentions with social media and developing them into more defined goals, objectives and tactics that can be measured for results.

Most organizations start with general goal statements that contain a little of all these elements, but are not quite any of them. As a longtime public relations professional and occasional adjunct professor on the topic, I can tell you the PR planning mindset may seem counterintuitive to your good social media intentions.  I’ll start by giving you a very general rundown of how I plan using a fictional “Clementine Hunter Art Museum.” Your mileage may vary.

1. Goals are extremely general and are rooted in the organization’s mission. They are based on changing your organization’s position in either reputation, relationships or the work of “getting things done.” They are your guiding light, Pollyanna statements about your organization’s perfect world, stated in present tense. This sounds stupid at first, and is surprisingly hard to do, but still necessary to the effectiveness of your ultimate plan. You can’t really measure these.

For example: CHAM is the top-of-mind source among publics who require easy online access to information about the life and art of Clementine Hunter.

2. Objectives are specific, measurable, time-based tasks that support your goals. Usually you have three or more.

For example: “To increase weekly traffic to the CHAM website 30% by the end of the current calendar year through an aggressive Facebook campaign targeted to students at art colleges.”

3. Tactics are the tools that you will use with intention to accomplish your objectives–Flickr, YouTube, direct mail, a poster contest, etc., etc. In this case, we’ll continue with the theme above.

For example:

  1. CHAM conservator will post weekly updates (augmented with photos and video) to the Facebook page on the “journey” of conserving a work of art.
  2. Initiate a Facebook ad campaign with appropriate demographics
  3. Post monthly updates to art college Facebook pages
  4. Facebook video contest — “How is CHAM’s legacy inspiring you?” Winner–museum membership, free print, small scholarship, etc.
  5. Emphasize through semi-weekly updates, photos of the artist and woman as well as trivia about her technique, etc. (Folks want to feel connected to her, and the people  preserving her legacy, not to a “museum.”)
  6. Secure and publicize a “shortlink” name for the Facebook page (e.g.
  7. Produce a direct mail postcard advertising CHAM’s website and unique Facebook content.

The critical leap to success depends on your tactics being rooted in larger goals and objectives for the organization. Your organization may have already done this. If not, the more effective and productive method would be a staff retreat, even if it’s just after hours at the museum. It’s an exhausting, but fruitful process. The Hoshin Method ( is effective for this purpose.

Just remember, the principles of social media will often engage naturally when you are using the social tools while intentionally remembering who your audience is and what drives them. This will make participation from the staff and publics much easier as well.

Graphic by by Lograi on Flickr

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