How to set social media objectives in six easy steps

How to set social media objectives in six easy steps

Every time I train for a marathon, I set mini goals along the way. And while surfing might be fun, there are probably better ways to train for my race! The same goes for social media. By setting clearly defined goals – and tracking your progress – you’re more likely to be successful.

Paid search and social media ads are expected to account for two-thirds of growth in global ad spend by 2020, which means you need to have a strong and measurable strategy. The easiest way to do this is to reverse engineer your objectives, which means getting clear about your goals and working backwards.

  1. Understand your customers

Suppose you’re like one of my clients – Mark Sponberg of IT Local – and you want to attract more customers using social media. The first step is to find out where your customers are hanging out. We started out with a texta and whiteboard, jotting down all of Mark’s different customers, their industries and likely social media habits.

“Because a lot of my customers are in professional services, we identified that LinkedIn was a very good platform to start with,” Mark says.  “We decided to focus on capturing leads and turning them in to sales. One contact on a lead page is worth more than 1000 likes.”

Mark was already thinking about making instructional videos, so we decided we would post these on YouTube and LinkedIn to help position him as a helpful and friendly expert. These videos would also link to a landing page, inviting users to sign-up to download free resources. Mark’s strategy is about building trust and moving prospects down the funnel.

  1. It’s ok to start with an aspirational goal

There’s nothing wrong with starting with a broad goal such as attracting more customers – after all, it’s probably why you’re on social in the first place. If we use Mark as an example, we would start with “secure more customers via social”, then we would have sub-goals such as:

  • Build engagement on LinkedIn
  • Generate leads through YouTube videos
  • Increase website traffic


  1. Use the SMART approach

Now we want to make these objectives as effective as possible. For this, I’m a big advocate of the SMART approach:

Specific: How will you know when you’ve achieved your goal? It’s time to give it some focus. For example, generate X sales from digital activities by March.

Measurable: Social media strategy is definitely a marathon not a sprint. Our goals must be measurable so we can gather enough information over time to optimise our strategy.

Achievable: How much money and time do you have to devote to implementing your strategy? What is your existing fan base?

Relevant: Do your goals align with your business and the habits of your customers? If Mark is trying to improve the click-through rate (CTR) from his video on YouTube to his landing page, then he doesn’t need to worry about Facebook.

Time-based: By setting time-based goals we can compare our results month on month, year on year to see if our strategy is working.

  1. Hone in on your metrics

In Mark’s case, some of the data we would be looking to gather is:

  • Average engagement rate on LinkedIn (likes, comments and shares)
  • Click-through rate (CTR) from YouTube videos to the landing page
  • Conversion rate for the landing page (number of sign-ups)
  • Website traffic (visits)

For more examples of the social media metrics you can track, Hootsuite has this excellent resource.

  1. Attach metrics to each of your SMART objectives

Now, write down the relevant metrics next to each of your objectives:

  • Build engagement on LinkedIn – increase LinkedIn engagement rate to X% by March
  • Generate leads through YouTube videos – X sign-ups to landing page by March (conversion rate), improve CTR from YouTube to landing page by X% month on month
  • Increase website traffic – increase visits by X% by March


  1. Define the starting line

Now you have a clear sense of what you want to achieve, you need to get a snapshot of where you are now so you know what you are measuring against. In Mark’s case it would make sense to understand his LinkedIn data points (number of followers and top posts), as well as how many sales have come through his website form during the past year or so.

Now Mark is ready to make his content!

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