how to create achievable social media goals

How can you tell if your social media marketing efforts are working? That single question has plagued businesses for years, and stopped them from engaging in social media altogether.

However, in 2016, you no longer have the excuse of limited tools to track your social media marketing efforts on networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. With all of the resources available that allow you to measure your campaigns, you have the ability to see exactly what’s working and how much social media is paying off for your business. Once you have something to measure, the next question is what are your social media goals?

Goal Setting 101

Read any blog post or book on goal setting, and you’ll most likely see SMART goals mentioned. SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific: Your goals should be clear, simple and defined.
  • Measurable: Attach a metric to your goal so you can measure your progress. For example, it could be reach, new website visitors or leads.
  • Achievable: Will you actually be able to achieve this goal? Make sure you’re being reasonable with your expectations.
  • Realistic: You should have the resources and desire to achieve your goals. For instance, it’s possible to double your social media traffic within 60 days. But do you have the time, resources or drive it will take to meet that goal?
  • Time sensitive: Your social media goals should have a time frame. The trick here is setting a timetable that’s reachable, but not so far out that there is no pressure to achieve it. Setting a time frame of 12 months to increase your social media reach by 10% is too easy. A good starting point for most social media goals is around 3-6 months.

The purpose of the SMART approach is to help you avoid the pitfalls that stop people from achieving their goals. Marketing Land provides this worksheet to help you manage your goals.

smart goals graph

SMART goals are particularly effective for social media marketing because most companies are too vague about what they want to achieve. It’s common to hear goals like “get more likes” or “increase our followers.” The SMART approach turns those goals into “boost our total number of Facebook followers by 15% in two months through participating in Facebook groups.”

Now that we know the different pieces of what goes into a social media goal, let’s walk through the process of actually creating one.

What Do You Want To Accomplish?

Not everyone wants to use social media for the same reason. Some businesses use it to generate leads, others are active on social to strengthen their brand. You may even have different objectives for each of your social media platforms. Start by defining what it is that you’re trying to accomplish with social media (your objective), then you’ll be able to create goals that will help you attain it. Your objective might be a bit more vague than your SMART goals, but that’s okay.

Here’s what this entire process looks like:

  1. Define the objective you’re trying to achieve with social media marketing. “Grow your brand’s voice on Twitter”
  2. Create goals to help you achieve your objective. “Increase total engagement (replies, Retweets and likes) by 25% in six months”
  3. Write down the steps you need to take to accomplish each goal. “Participate in at least five Twitter chats per month”

Using this systematized technique gives you a framework for what you want to achieve, why you’re doing it and how you’re going to achieve it. Going in blindly without a strategy makes it nearly impossible to track your progress since you’re not working toward anything in particular. Don’t make the mistake of using social media just because all the experts say you should. Put a purpose behind your efforts and you’ll get better results.

How to Choose Your Goals

You’ve determined what the objective is, now you just have to figure out what goals you’re going to set to get there. If you’ve already setup profiles and dabbled in social media marketing before, you can start by analyzing where your current status.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? If you have a large number of followers, but you’re not getting the social media engagement you’d like, your focus would be generating more activity. Maybe you’ve joined several Facebook groups but haven’t been active in them. In that case, your goals could center around being more efficient with Facebook groups.

Taking stock of your current position or performing a social media audit will allow you to look back at what you’ve accomplished and help you set goals to get better results.

If you’re struggling to come up with ideas or starting from scratch, here are some tips to help you set social media goals based on your objective:

  • Branding: If your objective is anything brand related such as improving brand consistency or reaching a new demographic, then your goals may revolve around:
    • Content
    • Outreach
    • Followers
  • Customer service: When you’re aiming to use social media as a customer service platform and to communicate with clients, set goals with these elements in mind:
    • Response rate
    • Engagement
    • Support tickets
  • Lead generation: A lot of businesses use social media as a way to generate new leads. Setting goals involving these metrics can help you create better goals:
    • Web traffic
    • ROI
    • Interactions

As you can see, there is a lot of flexibility when you’re setting social media goals. The key is to customize them to fit your business. Just remember to keep your goals SMART.

Pick Your Metrics

The “M” in SMART goals is arguably the most important part. Measuring a goal lets you quantify your progress. Setting a goal to “get more likes” isn’t effective because once you’ve received one new like, you’ve technically achieved your goal. To make a goal measurable, you need to attach a metric to it.

The metrics you use will depend on your goals. When you choose a social media metric to follow, remember that it needs to be something you can track. Here are some examples:

  • Facebook
    • Page likes
    • Post reach
    • Engagement
    • Page impressions
    • Shares
Facebook Analytics
  • Twitter
    • Engagement (replies, Retweets and likes)
    • Organic impressions
    • Followers
    • Messages sent
    • Response rate & time
    • Mentions
    • Profile visits
    • Tweets linking to you
Twitter Analytics
  • LinkedIn
    • Impressions
    • Clicks
    • Interactions
    • Followers
    • Engagement
LinkedIn Analytics
  • Pinterest
    • Impressions
    • Viewers
    • Average Repins per Pin
    • Pin reach
Pinterest Analytics
  • Instagram
    • Followers
    • Engagement (likes and comments)
    • Engagements per follower
    • Engagements per media
    • Clicks to website
Instagram Analytics

How to Achieve Your Goals

You know what you want to accomplish and the specific metrics you’re going to use to track your progress. The next step is to create a plan to ensure you reach your goals. Your plan should include:

  • The daily, weekly and monthly tasks you need to complete.
  • Milestones you want to meet while trying to achieve your goals.
  • Who is involved for each step.

The daily, weekly and monthly tasks you want to complete will be the meat and potatoes of your plan. Setting goals is useless if you don’t have a plan in place to reach them. These tasks outline the work that needs to be done in order to reach your goal. For instance, if your goal is to increase your number of followers by 15%, your plan should detail how you’re going to get these followers. If your goal is to decrease your average customer service response time to under 60 minutes, your plan must describe the policies and procedures you’re going to put in place to make it happen.

Failing to write down the steps you need to take to reach your social media goals is like going grocery shopping without knowing what you’re going to be cooking throughout the week. You’ll end up getting things you probably don’t even need. Without outlining the steps you need to take to reach your social media goals, you could easily wind up wasting time doing meaningless tasks that won’t get you to your end goal. And the larger your social media team, the more important it becomes to have your tasks clearly defined.

Creating milestones is great for morale and also to make sure you’re progressing on schedule. Your milestones need to be realistic and specific, just like your SMART goals.

For instance, if your goal is to get 6,000 new Instagram followers within six months, that breaks down to an average of 1,000 new followers each month. You could set milestones to have 2,000 new followers by the second month and 4,000 by the fourth month. If the second month comes around and you only have 500 new followers, you can reassess your goal and make the necessary adjustments.

How to Track Your Goals

The final piece of the puzzle is tracking your progress. Most social media goals can be tracked using a combination of:

  • Sprout Social: Great for tracking a wide range of metrics like engagement, audience growth and more.
Sprout Social Social Media Analytics
  • Google Analytics: Google Analytics makes it easy to track your traffic from social media, create campaigns and figure out your ROI. It’s also helpful for tracking metrics for social media sites that don’t give you a great amount of data like Snapchat or Instagram.
Google Analytics Social Media Analytics
  • Individual social media platforms: Certain platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest will give you further insight and metrics that will be helpful depending on your goals.
Twitter Analytics

Are You Reaching Your Social Media Goals?

Setting goals for social media marketing isn’t only about hitting milestones and completing objectives. It helps you become more efficient and cut out anything that’s not giving you results. As a business, a lot of the decisions you make will be based on your ROI. Creating goals and attaching metrics to them allows you to see your social media ROI so you can make better choices for your company.

Make sure you have the right social media analytics tools so you can evaluate and truly assess your incoming statistics. Having a tool to measure your goals makes the process much easier to control and inspect.

What are your social media goals for 2016? And what metrics are you using to track them? Let us know in the comments!