“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” — Fitzhugh Dodson
Another day, another tweet. As you log on to manage your brand’s social media presence each morning, are you influencing positive change, or just wasting your time? To ensure your every move is strategic, ask yourself: do I know where I’m going? How am I going to get there? Better yet, how will I know whether or not I’ve arrived?
In order to answer these questions, you need to set appropriate and manageable social media goals. Whether you’re redefining your approach, or creating a long overdue strategy for the first time, here are tips to get started.
“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” ― Henry David Thoreau
The truth is, every goal starts out as a dream. Creating a vision is the first step to identifying your goals and making a plan to achieve them. The secret to achieving your dreams is to organize your ideas, put them in priority order, and turn them into attainable goals.
Take a look into the future: six months, a year, and/or five years down the line. Using your imagination, what does your social media presence look like?
- How many followers do you have?
- How are audiences engaging with your content?
- How does this engagement inform your content creation?
- How many team members do you work with?
- What are the roles and responsibilities of each contributor?
- How does your team work together?
- What is the energy and attitude of the group?
Come up with answers that would be true in your perfect world. How does this world differ from your reality? For example, if you have a thousand followers now and wish for hundreds of thousands later, how can you make that happen? To figure this out, you have to be S.M.A.R.T.
Goals are a critical component of any strategy because they serve multiple purposes. For one, goals give you a destination to navigate your daily decisions. Secondly, they establish benchmarks to use when measuring results. However, all too often we set goals and never meet them. Why?
Most likely, your dreams translate to big, lofty objectives. The trick is to break each down into smaller, measurable pieces. Your goals should be S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
- Specific: If you’re too broad, you’re likely biting off more than you can chew. Additionally, you run the risk of not being able to define key performance indicators (KPIs) and ultimately, your return on investment.
- Measurable: Define KPIs at the beginning of any campaign or series and be honest about the results along the way. Regularly monitor and adjust your tactics as needed to stay on track. Common KPIs include: number of followers, engagement, website traffic, social reach, influencer attention, lead generation, and conversion.
- Attainable: While a goal may be impressive, it’s useless if it’s unrealistic and you can’t follow through. Make sure your objectives are achievable, and celebrate small wins along the way.
- Relevant: Every company is at a different stage of the social media journey. Create goals that make sense for your brand, not just because everyone else appears to be doing it.
- Timely: If you’re not a procrastinator, congratulations! However, if you’re like the majority of human beings on the planet, you may be inclined to put something off until it has to be done. This is the number one reason why deadlines are a powerful motivator. All goals must have them, or they will remain dreams.
Note: the smartest people question everything, so feel free to challenge the notion of S.M.A.R.T. goal setting. If you find an aspect of the formula doesn’t work for your organization, customize until you find a method that does.
Select the Right Goals
With so many opportunities to connect with customers online, many marketers feel pressure to participate on every platform and engage in all of the discussions. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Once you’ve prioritized your wish list, create goals that make the most sense for your brand. If you’re looking for inspiration to get started, here are some common social media objectives:
Increase Brand Awareness: Is your brand easily recognizable by potential customers? Almost all marketers aim to be top of mind among consumers. For example, if you own a donut shop in town, it’s ideal if locals immediately think of your bakery when the craving for sugary carbs hits hard. This goal requires a lot of moving parts, as summarized in the following steps:
- Define your target demographic.
- Figure out where these customers are most active online.
- Create content to reach and resonate with these individuals.
- Measure KPIs.
Sell, Sell, Sell: Move that product off the shelves! Whether clearing out your inventory or selling more of one product than ever before, sales-related goals are plentiful and easy to track. One goal can be to increase Instagram lead generation by 25% in the next three months, or to double your sales in the month of December with a targeted holiday social media campaign.
Boost Engagement: Have you ever told a joke and…no one laughed? What about when you’ve shared some news, and suddenly everywhere you go people mention hearing about it and ask for more details? This is essentially how social media engagement works.
The joke analogy represents the worst-case scenario, when the content you share receives zero engagement. It’s not shared, liked, commented on or even seen at all. On the other hand, the news analogy is the best-case scenario, receiving tons of engagement and organically spreading online and in real life.
To increase engagement, experiment with the type of content you share. Evaluate what seems to be the most popular and what might be falling on deaf ears. Armed with insights, make adjustments along the way to create the right approach to connect with your target audiences.
Napoleon Hill said it best: “Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right.’ Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” It’s never too late to update or set new social media goals. Our best advice is to remain nimble with your strategy, hold your team accountable to demonstrate results, and constantly strive to improve.