Setting Goals for Your Social Media Marketing

Growth goals

At one point in the past year, you may have compared yourself to others. This happens with business owners who look at similar businesses and see ways their own business doesn’t match up. Maybe the other organization has more Facebook Page followers, or gets more comments on their Instagram posts. Indiscriminately comparing metrics is unhealthy, and doesn’t make sense. Here’s why.

Marketing is about influencing behavior. Marketing is not just about growing any metric and getting as much content out there like that old adage, “throwing spaghetti to the wall to see what sticks.” Your actions should be targeted to get the results you need for your business to succeed. So, ask yourself this question: what actions do you need your target audiences to take? And how can you help your targets to act?

You’ll find that what you need from your targets manifests a metric or two that are important because those metrics are connected to your goals. So, if you’re trying to make sales, click-throughs might be important. Through hashtag marketing, you might not even care as much about your follower count as you do about impressions. So, if you’re comparing yourself to another business that has more followers, and you don’t know if they are getting as many click-throughs as you, you’re bumming yourself out for no reason at all. Focus on YOUR goals and YOUR metrics.

There are two types of goals you need to be aware of when putting together your social media marketing strategy:

End Goals come first

This is a goal you cannot fully control because you need your targets to achieve this for you. Your prospective and current customers must take the action. E.g., "I want to make 100 sales by 2019." This requires other people to purchase your products.

Action Goals are in a support role

You can control. E.g., "I want to read 25 books by the end of 2019," or "I want to send 2 newsletters per month to my contacts." Your targets do not need to do anything for you to reach that goal. That’s a goal you are setting for yourself. It’s a secondary goal, which should only exist if it supports your End Goal.

End Goals are used in setting Digital Marketing Strategy goals at the beginning, and Action Goals are used to articulate actions you will take to help reach your End Goals.

What’s not a goal

Consider these two statements:

  1. “I want 10,000 Twitter followers by May.”

  2. “I want 2,500 people on my email list in two weeks.”

Your End Goal, when met, defines success for your business. If you had 10k Twitter followers, would you be ready for acquisition or could you pay your bills? Not directly. Your End Goals should always impact your business directly.

Action Goals are approaches—actions YOU can take that you believe will positively impact your achievement of End Goals.

Going back to the two statements above, “I want 10,000 Twitter followers by May” is phrased as an End Goal (not totally in your control—people must take action to follow you), but also looks like an Action Goal (unless you are in the business of Twitter followers, those followers do not directly impact your business). Goals like this use what are called “vanity metrics”—they are vain, or useless, and not markers for success. Their vanity is that they are usually publicly displayed, on your social media profile, for example. This public display tricks you into putting undue attention on that metric.

These metrics also make it very hard for you to reach those goals because you have given up control where you shouldn’t. You have given up control of an approach goal, or Action Goal, which should be completely in your control. For example, your Action Goal could be “publish a daily post that encourages users to eat healthy and consider our solutions for doing so.” You can publish that daily post.

Goals are necessary

You might wonder why you can’t just work hard every day and get done what you can. Having goals is important for a few reasons. Some of those reasons include:

  1. Without a goal, you are likely less motivated to work, because you feel like you’re going faster than you really are.

  2. Or—you might overwork on things that aren’t really tied to your success.

  3. We can see what is achievable by setting short-term goals, or checkpoints for long-term goals. After getting past one checkpoint, if you exceeded what you thought you could achieve, you learn early that your goal was too easy. If you fall short, you know you need to stretch a little more. Knowing your limits helps you not overpromise your time or undervalue your services.

Set one End Goal today, and pick an Action goal that supports it. Then, get to work!

Photo by @charlesdeluvio