Creating a social media marketing campaign is quite an undertaking as it is. But going head-first into a social media campaign without set goals is exponentially more difficult, even for the most experienced content creators and social media marketing analysts.
This is why social media marketing (SMM) specialists work with SMART goals, which cover the most crucial aspects of planning effective social media campaigns. But what are SMART social media goals, how do they work, and what are the benefits of using them?
What Are SMART Social Media Goals?
One of the biggest reasons why social media marketing campaigns don’t work is the lack of proper goals. The SMART goal framework can help social media marketers determine what goal they are trying to reach with their SMM campaigns.
Companies will put tons of effort into their social media marketing and improving brand awareness and get absolutely nowhere. They’ll leverage the newest technology, such as AI image rendering and a business name generator, create amazing brand visuals, and put together a ton of great copy.
And all that effort could be wasted as social media metrics tank, and the brand does not get the awareness it hoped for simply because its goals were not properly defined. This is why the SMART SMM goal framework exists.
While social media marketing specialists are not obligated to work with the SMART goal system, it is still a very solid foundation to start with when setting goals for SMM.
SMART is an abbreviation that stands for:
Specific objectives that are easily defined;
Measurable results that can be visualized through one or more metrics;
Attainable and realistic steps and results;
Relevant content to your business or operation;
Time-specific deadlines during which these goals must be achieved.
These are the fundamental rules for creating goals for social media marketing campaigns. While these rules are not set in stone or even in an executive summary for a report, they are still extremely helpful for setting comprehensive goals for social media.
Creating a social media campaign without specific goals is like driving somewhere without knowing the destination. Even though you will most likely get somewhere after driving for some time, it may not be somewhere you’d need to be. In fact, you may end up being lost and in a worse place than when you first started driving.
On the other hand, by setting a destination you need to reach, you can calculate the most optimal route, account for traffic, and fill up on fuel accordingly. The same rule applies to social media goals. By setting a specific goal, the SMM team knows how to optimize the social media content that will achieve the exact results they are expecting.
The secret to specific social media goals starts with simple phrasing. Goals such as “growing brand presence on social media” or “improving public perception of the brand” are too vague and cover too many bases. Additionally, vague phrasing can also result in the goals being misinterpreted, since words like “improve” and “growth” are somewhat subjective.
Specific phrasing, on the other hand, does not have these problems. Goals such as “increase subscriber count from 100 to 1,000 in 1 month” are almost impossible to misconstrue. Set goals that are well-defined and specific, such as increasing the number of views content receives or improving user engagement on a set of social media platforms. Be as precise with the wording as you can.
Setting specific goals is especially important for social media marketing for small businesses or newer companies that have yet to find their footing in a competitive market. The last thing a small, growing company needs are larger-than-life SMM goals that don’t focus on obtaining a set of specific results.
Set specific milestones in SMM marketing that are also specifically worded to clearly understand what results need to be reached.
Numbers play a significant role in the success of social media marketing. Knowing what different metrics mean and how to improve them to benefit the online presence of your social media profiles is the backbone of any successful SMM campaign.
There are a metric ton of analytics tools and social media CRM systems that help marketers understand the performance of registered profiles and published content. A big part of setting SMART goals is making them measurable. Examples of measurable goals are increasing click-through rates of published content, improving user engagement on social media, or reaching a specific number of followers.
Consider which metrics must be improved and set goals in accordance with a specific, measurable result. For example, if the goal is to expand the audience and get more views, set a specific number of views that can be considered a success. If the goal is to increase engagement, understand the current metrics of audience engagement and set a percentage the content must reach.
The benefit of measurable goals is that their progress can be actively followed and gauged to be optimized for future marketing campaigns. For example, if the SMM team notices that previous attempts to reach 10,000 new followers in a month fell short, they may consider changing the goal to a lower range.
Social media marketing campaigns are only as effective as their goals are attainable. Your advertising on social media must be realistic for your business’ SMM team. Basically: give the SMM team a challenge, but one that they can most certainly overcome.
This is why attainability is such an important element of setting SMART goals for social media. It all comes down to being realistic. Sure, it's natural for passionate employees to try setting high standards for themselves, but this initial enthusiasm usually wears off once the SMM team realizes that they may have bitten off more than they can chew.
Let’s take the goal of improving audience engagement and understand what it means for social media goals to be “attainable.” If social media content has a low level of user engagement, such as 1%, then setting a goal of 50% is most likely unrealistic for a short time span. Not impossible, but improbable.
By setting an unrealistically difficult goal, there is a higher risk of failure, which could mean a great deal of wasted effort. This in turn could demotivate the social media management team from trying again, and now the goal of improving audience engagement becomes exponentially more difficult.
Another downside to unrealistic goals is that planning for them is much harder than with more attainable ones. For example, that same account with 1% user engagement that is looking to reach 50% can segment the larger all-encompassing goal into smaller short-term objectives.
The social media team could start by improving user engagement from 1% to 5%, which is a far more realistic goal within a month or two. After that, they can work to improve this metric from 5% to 10%, then from 10% to 15%, and so on until 50% is reached.
By segmenting goals in such a manner, the SMM team will get motivated by each milestone that has been reached, and getting user engagement to 50% now seems a lot more doable.
Making attainable goals is especially important in social media management for small businesses with relatively small SMM teams. By segmenting goals into shorter attainable milestones, small SMM teams can adapt their marketing campaign more effectively.
For example, a smaller SMM team can achieve a 10-15% increase in user engagement. Along the way, they can adjust the content and strategy of the SMM campaign depending on what techniques get them better results.
This makes the long-term goal more attainable since the small SMM team has time to pivot and adapt its strategy without going all in for the 50% improvement.
When setting your social media goals, understand what benefits will come from reaching them. Relevant goals are ones that are directly pertinent to the business or operation that owns the social media platform, while irrelevant ones have little to no impact on the overall operation of the company.
Creating relevant goals is the difference between a campaign that serves no purpose and one that provides numerous improvements and areas of growth for a company. By nailing down goals that are relevant to the entire company’s business model and mission, SMM teams can positively impact the company in a number of ways.
For example, a company that works in business-to-business (B2B) sales doesn’t need to focus on a wider audience and instead should target market niches to improve conversions. In this case, targeting social media marketing to drive traffic to a specific omnichannel contact center would be more appropriate. On the other hand, companies working in business-to-customer (B2C) sales must widen the reach of their social media content to reach ordinary customers.
Another crucial reason why goals must be relevant is for the content itself. SMM content creators must regularly consult with their team’s marketing specialists in order to understand how to create content that will help reach the desired results. Social media content depends on the SMM goals and their relevance to the entire company.
For example, a company is looking to improve its brand awareness. A relevant goal, in this case, would be to expand the reach of the company’s SMM content. Once the content creators know the relevancy of the goal to the overarching SMM campaign, they can brainstorm social media post ideas to reach the desired results.
Set goals by pinpointing which results on social media channels would be most beneficial to the success of the company. This way, all the effort put into the social media marketing campaign pays off by having a positive impact on the company’s operation as a whole.
Any successful social marketing campaign needs to be time-specific or, in other words, have deadlines. There are several methods of assigning manageable deadlines.
Deadlines must be proportionate to the sought-after results. For example, going from a few hundred video content views to a consistent ten thousand within a single month is not a realistic deadline. However, dedicating an entire fiscal quarter to this goal is far more reasonable.
On the other hand, setting deadlines that are too generous may mean losing out on recent trends that can boost the popularity of published content. Going back to the example of growing a Youtube channel: If the deadlines for videos are several months in advance, this means the content won’t be relevant when it is uploaded, and thus may underperform.
In this case, the social media marketing team will either need to do plenty of research to predict upcoming trends or utilize the power of evergreen content on Youtube. It’s important to set a realistic deadline that gives enough time for the social media marketing team to achieve the necessary results.
To make deadlines more digestible and achievable, it’s a good idea to divide the social marketing campaign into several milestones. For example, the first month could be dedicated to reaching a thousand views, the next month several thousand, and reaching ten thousand views by the end of the quarter.
By dividing the deadline into several more achievable milestones, it is easier for social media specialists to optimize content that will achieve these goals. This way, they are easier to maintain and more achievable.
To Conclude with SMART Goals
SMART goals make it much easier to set realistic, easy-to-understand, and pertinent objectives for social media marketing campaigns. While it’s not a foolproof strategy for improving SMM metrics and performance, it creates a firm foundation for setting effective, doable, and realistic goals for social media growth.
During the next brainstorming session for an upcoming SMM campaign, consider these fundamentals and see how the goals you’ve set fit within this framework.