3.5 Steps to Setting Intelligent Social Media Goals

Why, exactly, are you on Twitter? What is it, exactly, that you’re trying to accomplish on YouTube? Or Pinterest. Or Instagram? Or on any new platform that pops up in the next year? – Can you answer these questions clearly and specifically, without resorting to empty platitudes such as “engage the audience” or “join the conversation“? (BTW, nobody wants to join a conversation about paper towels, or banking, or deli meats…)

Rather then muddling our way through, let’s figure out exactly how these social or digital platforms will help you get where you want to go. Oh yeah, it’s also in 3.5 pretty easy steps with examples! There is even a video at the end.

Core Business Objectives

Everything starts with the sole purpose of your business. At the end of the day, what is it that your business needs to achieve? 9 times out of 10, it boils down to one thing: Generating Revenue. Even if you are working for a non-profit organization, you have to fulfill a mandate in order to receive funding for next year – in order to continue helping people. Whichever way you slice it, what we need to do here is to get brutally honest and specific. What is the core business objective of your organization?

Here are a few suggestions to get  you thinking:

  • Generate Revenue
  • Raise Funds
  • Influence Policy or Regulation

Litmus test: Would your board of directors / leadership team all agree that THIS is the one thing your business is trying to achieve?

Strategic Marketing Objectives

Here, we’ll make a move into the marketing territory and develop our strategic marketing objectives. We can do that by asking: “What goals, if achieved, will undoubtedly lead to [core business objective]”. So for example, all things remaining the same (conversion rate, retention, etc), if we increase our REACH (the amount of people aware of our product, services or brand) – that will undoubtedly result in an increase in revenue.

Here are some examples of marketing objectives to get you started:

  • Increase Reach
  • Increase Conversions
  • Increase Retention
  • Increase Credibility
  • Maintain Visibility
  • Develop Stronger Relationships With Stakeholders

Litmus test: Do each of these objectives, if achieved, lead to our core business objective (eg. Revenue Generation).

Digital / Social Marketing Objectives

Diving further into the rabbit hole, NOW we can make some intelligent choices about what exactly we should try to accomplish by participating on social or digital platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Yammer or what have you. Again, the question that will help us figure this part out is: “What digital marketing goals, if achieved, will undoubtedly lead to [strategic marketing objective]”?

Here are some examples of digital & social media objectives:

  • Build an online community
  • Increase conversions from visitors to buyers (or donors, or volunteers, etc)
  • Demonstrate thought leadership
  • Become a media resource
  • Increase online visibility

These will give us a great guideline when it comes to picking platforms as well as provide a set of measurement points. If you’ve managed to hang in so far, let’s take just one step further and sharpen these goals by making them even more specific and measurable. Using the examples from above, we could derive:

  • Reach 1000 e-mail subscribers
  • Increase percentage of website visitors to buyers
  • Generate one well-researched, comprehensive and valuable article per week
  • Find and develop relationships with 5 relevant editors
  • Obtain first page rank for “Luxury Cat Furniture Dallas”

Litmus test: Is it blatantly clear to you and the leadership team that these specific goals, if achieved will lead to one or more strategic marketing objectives?

Putting It Together

What we absolutely need to be able to do is have a clear, logical path from what we’re trying to do as a business all the way to what specifically are we trying to do on digital or social platforms. When completed, our objective framework usually looks like the video below.

Litmus test: Can you work backwards from your digital marketing objectives, one step at a time, by asking WHY all the way to the core business objective?

For example:

We want to increase the number of website visitors who become buyers – WHY?

Because that will help us increase overall conversions – WHY?

Reach and retention remaining the same, if we increase the number of people converting, we will generate more revenue – WHY?

Because that is what we are in the business of doing. BAM!

The main goal of this exercise is to clearly understand exactly what we are trying to accomplish on digital platforms, so we can make intelligent decisions about which channels we should use and what we should be measuring. In the next post of the Minimalist Marketing Strategy series, we’ll talk about channel selection. In the meantime, click here to read Part 1: Advanced Target Marketing.

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3 thoughts on “3.5 Steps to Setting Intelligent Social Media Goals”

  1. Excellent post. There’s a lot to think about here. So many times we get bogged down in social for social’s sake, but there’s a much bigger picture here. Your social media, website content, and marketing materials in general need to work together to help you achieve your bigger picture goals.

    • Hi Ramki,

      Depends on the organizational and strategic marketing objectives. A very simple example would be by understanding the connection between visibility and blogging, let’s say. Producing compelling content that is consumed and shared, leads to higher SEO rankings, which leads to more search traffic, which leads to higher reach – and keeping your conversion rate the same as it is now – leads to higher revenue.

      As long as there is a clear and logical connection between organizational objectives and what you’re doing online or on social platforms, you can derive a clear ROI.

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