Only 9% of people who make New Year’s resolutions feel like they succeeded. The most common reason resolutions fail is because they’re too broad to feel attainable. Social media goals operate in the same way. Aim too high in too short a time frame and you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Social media marketing spending in the US is expected to more than double from $7.52 billion in 2014 to $17.34 billion in 2019. Spending without data to back you up will not work in the long term. A key to justifying your social media work is setting up measurable goals that can showcase improvements in your digital presence.

Here, we’ll outline why you need to set goals and how to go about setting them. We’ll follow that up with some of the most common social media goals.

Why You Need to Set Social Media Goals

Time is the most valuable resource you have as a worker. If you’re spending a lot of time on social media for your company, wouldn’t you want to make sure you’re receiving the best results possible?

As a social media consultant, you’ll need goals and analytics to show your client that your work is creating results that they want. If you’re a social media manager for a company, you’ll want to make sure the goals are aligned with the company’s vision.

Without goals and metrics, you won’t know if the new strategy you’re trying out is working or if Sunday at 2 pm really is the best time to post for you.

Based on some of their posts, one of World Bird Sanctuary’s goals is public education on wildlife.

How to Set Social Media Goals

The key to setting any goal, social media or otherwise, is to be both specific and difficult. When we say “difficult,” though, it doesn’t mean unreachable. You’ll want to believe that the goal is reachable but not so easy that you can reach it in your sleep.

Psychologist and goal setting theorist Edwin A. Locke says in a research study (PDF), “High commitment to goals is attained when (a) the individual is convinced that the goal is important; and (b) the individual is convinced that the goal is attainable (or that, at least, progress can be made toward it).”

In other words, you’ll try your hardest when a goal is both important and moderately difficult to reach.

Create SMART Social Media Goals

One common goal-setting technique is to be SMART. This can be an excellent guideline for creating goals that work for your company.

SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific: Your goals should be clear, simple and defined.
  • Measurable: This is where analytics come in. You want a goal that has one or more metrics.
  • Achievable: Is it achievable or is it not possible within your resources?
  • Realistic: With your current resources of time and money, is it possible to achieve your goals?
  • Time sensitive: Every goal needs a time frame, whether it’s one year or several months.

In defining your social media goals, start with the broad goals that you’d like to achieve over a year. You can align these goals with your company’s mission statement or current annual goals.

Some common, broad social media goals include:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Improve ROI
  • Create a loyal fanbase
  • Increase in-person sales

Some companies set different goals for different social networks. We recommend only a few goals per network so you do not become overwhelmed. You can have primary goals like “increase brand awareness” and also secondary goals like “increase sales.” This way, you can track if brand awareness really is increasing and if sales are also increasing, that is great, too.

Identify Your Goal Metrics

Next, identify the metrics you’d like to use for each goal. We’ll use “increase brand awareness” as an example goal.

In reaching “increase brand awareness” on Facebook, you will want to pay attention to:

  • Fan count
  • Page and Post Impressions
  • Post Reach
  • Link clicks (if you are linking to your company blog)
  • Website analytics for Facebook referrals

In a SMART breakdown, “increase brand awareness in the next 3 months” for a cafe would look like:

  • Specific: Increase brand awareness on your Facebook account within a five mile radius of the cafe.
  • Measurable: Increase fan count by 15%. Increase link clicks on posts about the new cafe by 15%. Have an average Post Reach of 1000 people per post.
  • Achievable: Yes
  • Realistic: Boost new cafe posts with advertising by $15 per post, targeting an audience within a five mile radius. Consider also posting neighborhood specials to get the word out about the cafe.
  • Time sensitive: 3 month time limit on achieving the goal.

Audit Your Social Media Profiles to Set Baselines

Once you determine your metrics, audit your profiles to create a baseline statistic. This is important because you need to know where you were at when you first started tracking the goal.

Review Your Efforts

Finally, create a feedback loop of taking time to review your statistics. Depending on your goals, you may want to check in on analytics once or twice a month to see what’s working. Is $15 per Facebook post for boosting enough and is it reaching the audience you want? Or are your efforts better focused on other strategies for increasing brand awareness?

You can use our social media analytics to measure and review your efforts.

instagram analytics from sprout

It can be daunting to create and set goals. The more complicated you make the goal, the less success you’ll have in achieving them. Breaking a large goal down into smaller goals is key to achieving the large goal.

Let’s walk through some common social media goals.

Increase Your Social Media ROI

It’s important to understand that social media ROI (return on investment) is one way to measure your marketing efforts. It’s not the only way.

For social media ROI to be measured, you’ll first need to add up all of the costs associated with social media marketing. This includes employee hours, advertising spend and social media marketing tools.

Common metrics include:

  • Conversions from social networks
  • Trials of your product
  • Landing pages and email signups
  • Affiliate marketing with social media influencers
Google Analytics Goal Completions

Increase In-Person Sales

For brick-and-mortar businesses, translating social media efforts to sales that show up on the register can be tricky. You want to make sure that social media is incorporated into every part of your business.

Do you have signage inside that asks people to check in or follow you on Instagram? Can you give a small incentive for people who check in? Do you regularly post about what’s going on in the store?

You need to make sure that you can link your social media efforts to your register. If your register takes down the customer’s email, you could use their emails to target your advertising to them.

Common metrics of in-person sales include:

  • Advertising discounts only for social media followers. e.g. “Mention this post and receive a free cookie!”
  • Number of posts tagged or checked in at your location
  • Number of Facebook reviews

Create a Loyal Fanbase

Have you noticed how some products have fans posting about them without a prompt from the brand? It’s the ultimate goal of marketers to have such loyal fans and advocates talking positively about the brand without any initiation.

Common metrics of measuring a loyal fanbase on Instagram can include:

  • Photos tagged of you
  • Brand hashtags being used
  • Stories that tag you
  • Number of engagements per post
  • Engagements per follower

Social Media Goals Can be Achieved

Oftentimes, multiple social media goals go hand-in-hand with overlapping metrics. When you increase your brand awareness online, you are also likely increasing your sales. The more you engage positively with your audience, the more they will be willing to talk about your product without being asked to.

When you design your social media strategy, keeping all of this in mind is important. Setting goals is a little like making the perfect chili. Maybe red beans alone won’t make a successful chili. But if you combine it with a bay leaf and ground beef, it could be perfect.

To review, we learned:

  • Be SMART about your goal setting
  • Set goals that are both important and moderately difficult
  • Break large goals into smaller ones
  • Always review your goals throughout the time limit, so you can adjust your strategy if the goal does not seem on the right track
  • Aim for two to three goals per social network so you can focus your efforts

What have you found to be most successful in your social media goal setting? What metrics do you track and which goals have you already achieved?