How to set (and achieve) meaningful social media goals
If you’re still trying to define and finalize your social media goals – don’t sweat it. You’re definitely not alone.
According to the Sprout Social Index: Empower and Elevate, nearly half of marketers note that aligning their social media campaigns with company goals is their top struggle.
We can totally understand why.
Because there is no “right” answer to what your social media objectives need to be.
In fact, our research notes that the top priorities of social-savvy companies vary greatly from company to company.
Listen: trying to navigate social without an end-game is both daunting and frustrating.
Instead, marketers should be empowered to get down to business.
That means knowing exactly what you should be doing day-by-day to meet the needs of their companies, clients and customers you’re working with.
And that’s why we put together this guide to setting social media goals. We’ve also created a social media goals template to help you develop your plan. Download it below, or check out our full free social media toolkit if you’re looking for more resources to boost your strategy in 2020.
Why do social media goals matter so much?
Marketers can’t afford to ignore the process of setting goals on social media. Below are just a few of the reasons why specific goal-setting is an absolute must-do for marketers.
Goals hold you accountable
Whether you’re working on behalf of a company or client, there’s a growing expectation for marketers to discuss social media ROI with their bosses.
Social media has the unfortunate reputation of being a time-sink among some critics. By defining goals, you’re able to point to the specific steps and actions you’re taking to meet your business’ needs and justify your role.
Goals guide your budget
Our Index research notes that one-third of marketers struggle to secure an appropriate budget for their social campaigns.
But again, we get it. Businesses aren’t going to splash cash on social media “just because.”
Maybe you’re laser-focused on content creation. Perhaps you want to go all-in on Facebook ads.
Either way, outlining your goals and an action plan is key to both figuring out what you need to spend to see results.
Goals encourage marketers to pay attention to data
Here at Sprout, we’re all about social data.
And we encourage marketers of all shapes and sizes to take a data-driven approach to social media.
Social media objectives are contingent on KPIs and metrics. Putting together a high-performing campaign means understanding what’s moving the needle in terms of engagement, clicks and revenue.
How to start setting social media goals
By now you probably have a good idea of why you shouldn’t just “wing it,” right?
Good! Now we’ll dive into the specifics of how to set social media goals.
The following framework is fair game for any business regardless of which social network you’re focusing on.
Begin with a broad objective
Pop quiz: why is your business active on social media in the first place?
We promise we’re not trying to put you on the spot.
Beginning with a big-picture objective makes the goal-setting process less intimidating.
Here are some examples for reference:
- Small business: engage local followers and grow a greater community presence
- Startup: build awareness for a new product and generate leads for it
- Enterprise company: provide a timely customer service channel to boost customer loyalty
With a broad objective in mind, you can then start thinking about specific, granular goals that’ll directly inspire your day-to-day social activities.
And hey, that leads us directly to our next point.
Setting SMART goals
Here’s where we get into the nitty-gritty.
Once you’ve gotten your big-picture goals figured out, it’s time to outline your SMART social media objectives.
The SMART goal-setting framework is insanely popular and we can’t recommend it enough for social marketers.
In case you aren’t familiar 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.
See how that works? This approach to goal-setting results in direct action that’s backed up by data. We actually have our own social media goals template based on the SMART technique you can download below.
Identifying your goal metrics
Next, it’s time to identify the metrics you’d like to assign to your goals.
As noted, there are KPIs and metrics tied to every goal.
Let’s use “increase brand awareness on Facebook” as an example goal. For marketers focused on this goal, you’d want to pay close attention to the following:
- 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 might look something like this:
- 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.
Business objectives defined via specific and measurable results act as a compass for the your team, setting the directions to help you achieve larger goals. Tools such as Sprout’s analytics suite can break down each of your most important data points at a glance regardless of what your social media goals might be.
Tracking your results over time
Whether or not you’re reaching your goals depends on your ability to monitor your data over time.
Are numbers ticking upward in terms of clicks and conversions? Is your audience growing?
Whether the answer is “yes” or “no,” you’ll know for sure if your action plan is working.
Data is especially important for setting realistic social media goals. After all, goals require context.
For example, let’s say your Instagram is averaging 100 followers per week. Scaling up to 125 or even 150 per week within the span of three months isn’t unreasonable. However, expecting that average to boom to 500 or 1,000 isn’t rooted in reality.
Examples of social media goals in action
With a goal-setting framework established, it’s time to figure out which specific objectives make sense for your business.
Need some inspiration? We’ve got you covered.
Below are some social media objectives examples based on the top goals of today’s marketers. Bear in mind that most businesses adopt a combination of these objectives rather than a single goal.
Increasing brand awareness
KPIs: followers, impressions, traffic, share of voice, reach
Raising brand awareness is the most pressing goal among today’s brands, although it’s also the broadest.
In short, brand awareness involves making a lasting impression of your target audience.
How much are you being talked about versus your competitors? Are followers regularly engaging with your content? Brand awareness represents a long-term game as you uncover a creative trademark that scores consistent engagement.
Generating leads and sales
KPIs: Sales revenue, lead conversion rate, non-revenue conversions, email sign-ups
No secrets here. Generating leads and sales means translating your social media presence into dollars and cents. This can be done directly through social ads, but also means paying attention to details such as…
- How you funnel your social traffic to relevant landing pages
- Which creatives and calls-to-action you’re using on social media
- Who you’re targeting with your ads and sales messages
Increasing community engagement
KPIs: clicks, “likes,” shares, comments, mentions
Encouraging conversations with your target audience goes hand in hand with building a relationship with them.
Although “likes” and shares might be considered vanity metrics by some, such data points can clue you in on whether or not your messaging and content strategy click with your customers.
Additionally, community engagement enables you to define your brand voice and make meaningful connections with followers as you go back and forth with them.
That’s some advice right there. #SproutChat pic.twitter.com/ArNDzx2EEI
— Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) September 25, 2019
Growing your brand’s audience
KPIs: mentions (via social listening), followers, share of voice, engagement rate, followers
Whether you’re bouncing between multiple networks or are laser-focused on a single platform, growing your audience is non-negotiable.
Key objectives here include figuring out your top-performing content, optimal publishing frequency and running campaigns that attract new followers to your account (think: contests, influencer campaigns).
Increasing web traffic
KPIs: traffic, link clicks, conversions, email sign-ups, product trials
Not all of your social media goals are tied directly to social media itself.
Whether it’s sign-ups or sales, it’s critical to keep an eye on how your social followers behave once they become on-site visitors. This is crucial for determining your overall social ROI, as well as which channels and pieces of content result in the most traction.
As a side note, remember that 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. Keep this in mind as you design your social media strategy.
Sample social media goals by platform
Remember: goals, priorities and expectations vary from platform to platform.
To wrap things up, here are some goals for social media broken down by individual networks and their specific strengths.
If your business wants to run advertising that targets hyper-specific users, look no further. With social media’s largest user-base and most robust ad-targeting platform, Facebook is the gold standard for paid ads for local businesses and ecommerce giants alike.
If your business wants to build relationships with its target audience, Twitter is a solid starting point. The platform is ideal for use as a customer service or business development tool as you can go back-and-forth directly with customers and other companies.
It sold out so quickly, and still has so much love, so always a chance we could bring it back one day! I will ask!!! – Kristen
— BlackMilk Clothing (@BlackMilkTweets) September 16, 2019
If you’re a B2B brand, LinkedIn is the place to be. The go-to network for professionals, LinkedIn is all about flexing your company’s influence and networking for new opportunities.
If your business is selling a “visual” product (think: retail, hospitality, travel), Instagram is your bread and butter. Countless brands have managed to engage their communities through eye-popping photos, Stories and compelling visual ads.
Pinterest is not unlike Instagram with its emphasis on visuals and product-based content, although its audience skews slightly older. Given that the majority of Pinterest users rely on the platform to research products, marketers should think twice before treating it as a “secondary” social network.
Need more information before deciding where to invest your time and resources? Check out our complete guide to insights on social media platforms and their demographics.
And with that, we wrap up our goal-setting guide!
What are your social media goals?
Goal-setting is the common thread between marketers who are successful on social media.
Because they know what they want their campaigns to look like. And they know the exact steps to take to make ’em happen.
From brand awareness to boosting revenue and beyond, we encourage marketers to set specific social media goals. With the help of tools like Sprout, you can take a data-driven approach to reach those goals sooner rather than later.
We want to hear from you, though! What do you consider to be your most important social media goals? Any goals that you’re still struggling with? Let us know in the comments below!
5 must-have social media dashboard templates for brandsPublished on January 11, 2023 Reading time 8 minutes
Social media benchmarks by industry in 2023Published on January 10, 2023 Reading time 7 minutes
10 effective social media automation tools to use in 2023Published on December 20, 2022 Reading time 10 minutes