The Complete Guide to Setting and Achieving Your Most Important Social Media Goals

Social media has become an invaluable channel for brands and businesses to connect with current customers, reach new audiences and ultimately drive meaningful business results.

But many organizations fail to realize the full potential of their social media efforts due a crucial mistake — not defining clear objectives and goals to guide their strategy.

Without properly setting social media goals that align to overarching business priorities, it’s impossible to execute effective campaigns or accurately track performance over time.

The Growing Importance of Social Goals

The average small business in the U.S. now has 7 social media profiles and spends over 6 hours managing each one every week according to Sprout Social‘s 2023 Index.

With investments like these growing annually, setting unambiguous goals tied directly to revenue has become mission-critical.

In fact, a HubSpot report found brands with clearly defined social media goals enjoy a 326% higher ROI on average.

Beyond direct returns, several other studies demonstrate the growing importance of sharper social goal focus:

  • 89% of marketers in Buffer‘s 2023 State of Social Media Report say social objectives are now a management priority on par with sales goals.
  • 64% of brands surveyed by Socialinsider saw goal-related improvements in critical branding metrics like reach and engagement rates within 6 months.
  • Agencies focusing on 1-3 high-level goals rather than scattered vanity metrics saw average client growth improve by ~200% over a two year period per Rival IQ.

With numbers that compelling, taking the time to define S.M.A.R.T. goals aligned to overarching business objectives is a no-brainer.

That‘s why in this complete guide, you‘ll learn:

  • What social media goals are and why properly defining them is so critical
  • An actionable goal setting framework to apply to your unique business context
  • 13 high-impact social media goals with detailed strategies for achieving them
  • Must-track metrics and KPIs to quantify success on each goal

Let‘s dive in.

A Data-Driven Approach to Goal Setting

Far too many brands take a shotgun spray approach to social media objectives — focusing on vanity metrics like retweets and follower counts rather than business impact.

But with 88% of marketers now leveraging social data to inform broader decisions, continuing that reactive approach is unacceptable.

The data shows brands using business context to shape social goal setting are simply more successful.

For example, in a survey by Social Media Today, brands who defined audience growth goals based on broader revenue objectives hit targets 73% more often on average.

So where should you start when defining your own data-driven social media goals?

First, analyze historical performance on both social platforms and your website/funnel using either native or third-party analytics tools.

Identify gaps in performance as well as traction across goals like:

  • Driving site traffic
  • Generating opt-ins
  • Boosting brand awareness
  • Creating high-quality leads

Areas showing positive momentum deserve further optimization. But call out gaps limiting growth to define improvement opportunities.

Next, layer on your current business objectives and targets across sales, customer acquisition costs (CAC), brand sentiment and other KPIs.

Determine which social goals show the highest correlation or influence over moving those top-level numbers.

Finally, define S.M.A.R.T. social media goals reflecting the intersection of:

  1. Areas of historically strong performance demonstrating platform competency fit
  2. Gaps indicating the biggest opportunities for quick wins
  3. Leading indicators tied directly to business objectives

This data-driven approach results in social goals directly fueling revenue — not vanity metrics.

Now let‘s explore 13 of the most essential data-backed social media goals worth chasing.

13 High-Impact Social Media Goals to Power Your Strategy

While every brand‘s social objectives should stem from their unique situation, common themes do emerge.

In its annual benchmark report, Rival IQ analyzed millions of data points from top-performing brands‘ strategies to define 13 goals consistently tied to business success.

For each goal, we’ll cover proven frameworks for:

  • Crafting S.M.A.R.T. objectives
  • Executing multi-channel campaigns to hit targets
  • Tracking progress using both social and business data

Let‘s dive in.

1. Boost Brand Awareness and Reach

Expanding brand awareness means getting your products, services and unique differentiators in front of as many new audiences as possible. It‘s the logical first step for customer acquisition.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Framework

Increase awareness metric X by Y% within Z months across identified new target demographic(s).

Key Campaign Strategies

  • Produce catchy and engaging social content consistently that grabs attention
  • Leverage bold visuals and video that make your brand memorable
  • Get creative with viral prompts and challenges that incentivize organic shares
  • Run targeted social media ads to expose new demographics to your brand

Progress Metrics

  • Brand mentions and tags
  • Social reach and post impressions
  • Growth in followers and community size
  • Share of Voice relative to competitors

2. Cultivate Brand Loyalty and Trust

While awareness gains attention, you must delight audiences consistently to earn loyalty.

Use social listening for real-time pulse checks on brand sentiment and perceptions. Then doubling down on what earns love while course correcting pain points.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Framework

Increase brand sentiment score from X to Y and Net Promoter Score from M to N by [date].

Key Campaign Strategies

  • Humanize your brand by showcasing internal culture, values and community outreach
  • Spot negative trends early via listening tools to address concerns
  • Highlight customer success stories and recognize brand advocates
  • Incentivize reviews through giveaways or lead magnets

Progress Metrics

  • Brand trust and sentiment tracker in analytics tools
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys
  • Customer satisfaction metrics
  • Review volume and average ratings

3. Become a Thought Leader Through Insights

Earn exclusive mindshare in your niche by consistently creating, aggregating and distributing highly sharable insights and expertise.

Content that changes perceptions or just simply entertains travels. So double down on unexpected or counterintuitive data points and analysis that get audiences thinking.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Framework

Achieve X social engagements and Y backlinks through owned insight-oriented content as well as partnerships by [date].

Key Campaign Strategies

  • Analyze trends to spot rising questions and knowledge gaps
  • Address market problems head on with informed contrarian takes
  • Conduct primary research that contributes unique datasets
  • Promote content through influencer and media collaborations

Progress Metrics

  • Organic social reach and engagement rates
  • Backlinks and external references earned
  • Increase in relevant keyword rankings and search traffic

4. Drive Qualified Website Traffic to Fuel Conversions

Expanding domain authority through backlinks is nice, but mean little without corresponding website visitor growth.

Create snappy social posts and mid-funnel content tailored to motivate your personas to click through.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Framework

Increase website click-through-rate from social posts from X% to Y% and overall referral traffic from channels by Z% year-over-year.

Key Campaign Strategies

  • Promote high-performing pages and gated content locks consistently
  • Spotlight customer success stories and exclusives
  • Create click-worthy promotional capsules and special offers
  • A/B test CTA language and visual assets

Progress Metrics

  • Clicks, sessions and conversion value from social
  • Click-through and bounce rates specifically
  • Attribution tracking back to campaigns

5. Grow Subscribers Through Lead Gen Promotions

While driving site traffic puts new visitors into your funnel, getting them to opt-in for more touchpoints accelerates conversion.

Give audiences valuable resources in exchange for contact details they actually want to receive.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Framework

Generate [XXX] new permission-based leads through gated social offers — increasing conversion rate from X% to Y% by [date].

Key Campaign Strategies

  • Give away highly in-demand niche reports, playbooks or tools
  • Promote offers both organically and through paid reach expansion
  • Stack value rather than endings deals — "lead magnet + discount code + 1:1 call"
  • Personalize messaging post opt-in to anticipated needs

Progress Metrics

  • Sales qualified lead volume and CPL
  • Opt-in and overall funnel conversion rates
  • Email engagement metrics like open and CTRs
  • Survey feedback on info quality

6. Amplify Advocacy and Loyalty Through Experiences

Customers‘ emotional journey and end-to-end experience with your company shapes loyalty as much as functional value gained from products.

Identify key phases in their buyer‘s journey to inject delight — from onboarding and ahas! to renewal and recommendations.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Framework

Improve Net Promoter Score from [X] to [Y] by creating and amplifying share-worthy social moments aligned to the customer journey throughout 2023.

Key Campaign Strategies

  • Spot frustration triggers in the purchase process and overcorrect
  • Train staff to recognize and react to social cheerleading
  • Craft segment-specific customer appreciation campaigns
  • Inspire customers to become brand ambassadors

Progress Metrics

  • Customer satisfaction and NPS Scores
  • UGC Creation and Engagement
  • Percent of Reviews from NPS Promoters
  • Brand Sentiment

7. Showcase Culture and Values Through Employees

Your employees and internal brand ambassadors can be hugely influential on perception…if activated properly.

Enable staff across the org chart to share their passions, team wins, events and day-to-day. The collective reach often dwarfs corporate channels alone.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Framework

Launch employee advocacy program by [date] to double our humanizing social content output and earned media impressions by 2023 year end.

Key Campaign Strategies

  • Identify most connected employees to pilot programs
  • Equip all staff with easy desktop sharing tools
  • Educate on branding guidelines with examples and guardrails
  • Incentivize participation through rewards or gamification

Progress Metrics

  • Content contribution across activated employee base
  • Earned impressions and engagement from staff posts
  • Program satisfaction surveys and NPS
  • HR brand perception audits

8. Recruit Talent That Embodies Your Values

Bringing on exceptional staff members accelerates output velocity across all goals by compounding already productive teams.

But recruitment is no longer just posting openings and waiting. Brands must take a candidate-centric approach to sourcing by creating communities offering continual value.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Framework

Reduce days to fill critical openings from [X] to [Y] and cost per hire from $Z to $X by 2023 year end through expanded social talent pooling.

Key Campaign Strategies

  • Shape your EVP and external talent brand positioning
  • Train hiring managers on modern recruiting KPIs
  • Identify best-fit roles for proactive versus reactive hiring pools
  • Promote introspective leadership podcasting

Progress Metrics

  • Followers and engagement on talent brand profiles
  • Career site traffic from social referrals
  • Applicants sourced and hired per channel
  • Cost per hire and recruiting team productivity

9. Arm Sales Teams With Social Selling Skillsets

Buyers are up to 5X more likely to engage with consistent helpful education versus product pitches according to LinkedIn data.

Equipping client-facing teams to lead with value accelerates pipeline velocity.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Framework

Improve sales team social engagement by 150% and quota attainment by 25% in 2024 through new social selling skills training and coaching.

Key Campaign Strategies

  • Audit baseline social presence and proficiency
  • Set expectations for daily/weekly sharing quotas
  • Conduct training on content best practices
  • Have management model and motivate excellence

Progress Metrics

  • Content sharing activity across cohorts
  • Earned social impressions and engagement
  • Referral and influenced pipeline creation
  • Multi-touch attribution data tying activity to close rate

10. Cultivate Target Account Relationships

Savvy sales team don‘t just work inbound leads. They proactively identify ideal customer profiles and engage decision makers directly.

This account-based approach leads to larger deal sizes with higher expansion potential thanks to executive buy-in.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Framework

Secure [X] new logos from target account list of strategic fits as defined by C-suite through social selling efforts by [date].

Key Campaign Strategies

  • Map target accounts to priority personas
  • Equip C-Suite with thought leadership ghostposting
  • Have SDRs directly engage multiple contacts socially per account
  • Send physical mailed social media marketing books

Progress Metrics

  • New customer wins from identified list
  • Revenue and deal size growth in accounts
  • Individual engaged contacts per account

11. Resolve Customer Issues Scalably

Response time and resolution quality for customer issues largely shapes brand sentiment and churn risk.

Identify recurring themes proactively through analytics while empowering frontline teams to manage at scale.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Framework

Improve audience response rate from X% to Y% and resolution time from Z hours to under 30 minutes through expanded social team staffing and proactive issue identification by [date].

Key Campaign Strategies

  • Build libraries of best practice response templates
  • Define processes for routing complex inquiries
  • Monitor peak volume windows to align staff coverage
  • Have CX leaders conduct quality reviews

Progress Metrics

  • Average response time per channel
  • Resolution time from initial outreach
  • CSAT metrics across service teams
  • Repeat issue rates

12. Crowdsource Authentic Marketing Assets

User generated content receives higher engagement on average as audiences favor real experiences over branding fluff from brands.

But acquiring and managing UGC at scale is manual and chaotic without a defined approach.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Framework

Source [XXX] social content assets from customers to improve marketing campaign performance metrics by [Y%] over previous all branded efforts.

Key Campaign Strategies

  • Identify ideal content types and use cases by campaign
  • Structure branded hashtags and simple calls-to-action
  • Promote hashtags through influencer co-marketing
  • Compensate top contributors with discounts & recognition

Progress Metrics

  • UGC content contributed across efforts
  • Earned campaign impressions and engagement lift
  • Lead and sales conversion rates
  • Cost per asset and usage tracking

13. Continue Team Learning to Expand Impact

The marketing landscape evolves incredibly fast. So continual learning and skills development is essential for sustainable execution.

Dedicate set monthly hours for staying on top of platform algorithm updates, privacy policy shifts and emerging channel opportunities through data.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Framework

Improve team competency in latest social best practices by requiring at least 5 hours of monthly accredited training for each member based on quarterly audits.

Key Campaign Strategies

  • Incentivize group learnings with team lunches
  • Quiz during meetings on recent platform updates
  • Maintain database of reputable industry resources
  • Sponsor conference and online course participation

Progress Metrics

  • Completion rates for assigned trainings
  • Test comprehension via small quiz assessments
  • Individual skills audits tie back to goal setting for career growth
  • Benchmark performance metrics to demonstrate impact

Key Takeaways and Getting Started

With more clarity on the most valuable social media goals, building your 2023 strategy should feel far less daunting.

Remember, rather than choosing just one goal area, select three to five that most closely map to current business objectives then craft S.M.A.R.T. variants.

The specific metrics and frameworks provided for each goal will prove invaluable as you set targets and track performance over time.

Document your objectives, identify key multi-channel campaigns to hit them then configure analytics tracking. By taking this focused approach, expect standout business returns.

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