How to Set Healthy Social Media Goals

Address social media from business goals down

If you spend time looking through articles offering advice on social media goals, you’ll quickly learn that, well, there are an awful lot of them. You can find advice on everything from Facebook and Instagram metrics to goals for sharing, native ads, and engagement. But maybe they’re all jumping the gun a little.

To understand the problem with most social goals, we can start with something similar: fitness goals. I love fitness trackers (unfortunately a little more than I love fitness itself). Each comes with different technical capabilities, and each allows you to set goals. The problem? The goals are often driven by the technology, not by your needs. If you’re in the Fitbit universe, for example, you can track steps. In the Apple Watch world, standing and sitting matter too. If you want to swim, you can try my favorite of the bunch, Misfit.

Fitness trackers are great at getting you off the couch. But if you allow them to dictate your goals without an eye on the bigger picture (i.e. your health), they can easily warp your workouts. Step trackers, for example, encourage you to run or walk more—and perhaps bike less. If your fitness band tracks overall activity, you may not feel as compelled to work out several times a week. If it’s not waterproof, that keeps you out of the pool. In other words, all of them support a vague goal of health and fitness, but their capabilities have a big impact on how you achieve that.

Social media goals can be similar. If you’re looking at pins on Pinterest, or retweets on Twitter, or even more complicated engagement metrics, that’s fine. All of them will generally support a business. However, that also means you’re losing your strategic focus and allowing the platform’s metrics to influence your activities. They offer an artificial measurement that may contribute to your success, but probably not in the most effective way possible. 

Instead, it’s time to start looking at social media from business goals down. Every business should have strong goals, which can be anything from revenue growth and market share to brand reach and customer service metrics. Those goals should always lead, and social media should always follow. 

When you start with business goals, it’s easier to use social channels in much more targeted and measurable ways. For example, many companies have found that Twitter is useful in reducing customer service costs. If so, your social media goals might not be Twitter-specific metrics, but customer service calls reduced by the platform. If you’re a newspaper, Twitter may help drive traffic to your stories. In that case, you could measure ad revenue derived from Twitter traffic. In both scenarios, your social media activities would translate into wins for your business, not flashy metrics.

Overall, this suggests a simple and coherent way to evolve our approach to social and other digital platforms:

1. Set business goals.

2. Assess the marketing channels that can contribute to those goals, including social.

3. Don’t be “led by channel.” After all, Apple has done very well ignoring social altogether and focusing on its considerable ability to create epic press events.

4. Choose the channels you want to target and how much you want to spend in each.

5. Set social goals specific to your business.

Overall, it’s time we grew our confidence in social and started thinking more strategically about social goals. When we’re chasing easy metrics, we’re simply playing catch up. When we lead by goals and use the channels to support them, we have a real way to measure success.

Article originally published on Jason Burby's LinkedIn page here

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