“It’s impossible to determine the ROI of social media”, said the business owner during a conversation with me.
Is it impossible? The short answer is: no.
Is it a challenge? Of course.
The return on social media still exists as an elusive piece of the marketing puzzle for many businesses wanting to capitalize on the billions of eyes spending time on those platforms.
(BTW: there are almost 2 billion monthly users on Facebook alone!)
An eConsultancy survey found 41% of respondents from 1,000 companies and agencies had absolutely no idea of social media’s financial impact.
(via Convince & Convert)
I’m not the first one to say it…but the initial step in the process of being able to measure social media ROI, is to set appropriate social media goals for all your efforts.
Every business with strategic, measurable goals and a commitment to quality content can travel down the social media marketing road to reach their desired destination.
It’s important to remember that leveraging social media for business growth requires an equal mix of:
- attention to detail,
- and data crunching.
Successful execution in all three areas comes down to developing the right social media goals and objectives for your particular business.The first step in the process of being able to measure social media ROI, is to set appropriate goals for all your efforts.Click To Tweet
Getting a Handle on Social Media Goals and Objectives
Before I get into the specifics, let’s review what a goal is (in case you need a quick refresher).
Businessdictionary.com describes it perfectly:
A goal is “an observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed timeframe.”
Setting goals for social media marketing is a critically important task when it comes time to determine progress for your efforts.
Are you wondering how to set social media goals?
Here’s how you can do it.
You’re always thinking too broadly if your goal is simply, “sell more”, or “get more followers”. Commit to setting achievable goals with attributes that include:
- The ability to be measured.
- A clearly defined objective.
- A timeframe by which they should be achieved.
Consider the examples below.
Sell 10 products to Facebook fans.
Convert 10 sales within 30 days by posting once a day on Facebook with clear CTA (call to action) and a $50 clicks-to-site advertisement.
Talk about detailed, right?
But you can clearly notice how the “weak” goal is vague. What’s more, it’s pretty unmotivating.
The “strong” goal is highly measurable, very specific and associated with an end date. This type of goal helps guide every decision you make in an effort to achieve positive results.
You could also break this down into the What and the How.
Goal —the What
Convert 10 sales within 30 days on Facebook.
Actions —the How
- Posting content once a day
- Using clear CTA
- Implementing a $50 “clicks-to-site” ad
In this article, we’ll provide examples of social media goals using the above structure.
Now you’re prepared to develop measurable and meaningful goals. So, let’s talk about two main types of social media goals: branding and conversions.
Social media strategy goals will include both branding and conversion based ones. Below are the most realistic and achievable social media goals and objectives for growth.
Your business can benefit from any or all of them!
Branding-Based Social Media Marketing Goals
In its simplest form, social media marketing is an INCREDIBLE branding tool.
Making the most of social media branding capabilities requires cohesive messaging and consistency.
What goes on your social media platforms should mirror the content on your website, your blog, your email blasts and any other traditional marketing you do.
This effort involves maintaining consistent:
- Visual identity
- Tone and voice
Social media marketing offers an inexpensive way to extend your brand reach beyond your brick and mortar business and/or your digital home base (a.k.a. your website).
Take a look at some of the most effective social media goals for branding.
1. Growing Your Community
Depending on the platform, the goal for growing your community on social media is measured in a couple of ways.
On Facebook, you’re seeking a number of Page Likes, on most of the other social platforms you’re seeking a number of Followers.
This number is often referred to as a “vanity metric” in the digital marketing field because there’s no tangible way to relate it to influence or conversions. But, there are two great reasons for including this one in your social media goals.
One reason is that the Page Likes or Followers number is still a quick factor of credibility for most users.
Marketing experts spend additional time looking past follower count to things like “engagement” and “reach” (more on this in a minute).
But most users do not dig so deep. They view the number of followers as one of the—if not THE—most important credibility factor.
The second reason to steadily grow your community, is the relevance factor within each platform.
Highly active brands with a large community are more likely to be shown in search/discover areas on social media.
The social media platform takes community size into consideration.
Community growth can be achieved in a myriad of ways, and that’s a whole separate article on its own. But, working toward that growth can be done by setting a measurable social media goal.Growing your community is still a relevant goal, because it is a quick factor of credibility for most users.Click To Tweet
An example social media goal for community growth:
Acquire 100 new Instagram followers in 10 days.
- Posting daily on Instagram
- Researching and using hashtags
- Seeking out competitor follower lists
- Engaging with targeted potential followers
2. Consistent, Visible Branding
The potential for your company to be seen on social media is boundless! Whether it’s referred to as “reach”, “impressions” or “views”, the number of users seeing your content is a goal-worthy branding metric to watch.
For example, Facebook refers to this as “reach”.
Reach encompasses all the users who saw and potentially engaged with your content.
Every post you make and every ad you place reaches some of Facebook’s massive audience. The more consistently you post, the more users you reach.
The same goes for ads. The more relevant ads are, the higher the reach.
Reach is a common metric on the traditional side of marketing, equivalent to “distribution” in print for example.
It can be difficult to track sales generated from a magazine ad. However, it’s quite simple to trace the path of a sale that starts on social media. Because of that, you want to keep track of this larger number, in order to determine a true conversion rate.
An example social media goal for branding:
Reach 100,000 Facebook users in 30 days.
- Posting engaging, shareable content once per day
- Promoting those posts for $5 to a highly targeted audience
3. Engaging With Your Community
Engagement is arguably the most relevant of all the branding-based social media goals metrics.
This engagement umbrella can include:
Engagement is such an important measurement because it is the best way to collect data about your community’s perception of your brand.
Community engagement allows you to determine what kind of content your followers react to most favorably, what products and services get them talking, topics to feature and topics to avoid…the list can go on.
Because there are so many different types of engagement across platforms, let’s review them:
Likes, Comments, Shares, Direct Messages
Mentions, Retweets, Quote Tweets, Direct Messages
Likes, Comments, Replying to Stories with a chat, Direct Messages
Screenshots, Replying to Stories with a chat, Direct Messages
When setting social media engagement goals, be sure to create specific goals for each platform. Though it may seem slightly redundant when you create them, you’ll see that the metrics vary widely by platform.
An example social media goal for engagement:
Obtain an average of 50 engagements per Instagram post over 30 days.
- Dedicate time to reply to all comments and chats/DMs
- Engage on relevant hashtags
Conversion-Based Social Media Goals for Business
In addition to the branding perks, social media also offers an opportunity for establishing sales goals.
Now take note, that the hard sell is less effective on these platforms. However, there are numerous ways to capitalize in the soft sell environment that is social media!
What is a soft sell on social media?
Generally speaking, the subtler approach of “soft selling” focuses on building relationships with the community by appealing to their emotions. Hard selling is the more direct, logic-based approach that doesn’t take advantage of the “social” piece of “social media marketing”.
Now, social media users are smart.
They don’t necessarily want to be sold to while spending time in their established social communities. It can turn them off!
However, take a look at a few tips for how to use social selling:
Engage your community with questions about your products and services.
For example, a local salon might post an image featuring a series of new products with a caption asking their community which one they’re most excited to try. This kind of post drives customer engagement, makes the community aware of new products and subtly suggests they come in to buy something (or get pampered with the new products!).
Provide value as an industry leader.
For example, when I post this blog on my social media channels, I’ll be focused on providing value to my community versus selling them on my services. This kind of post drives traffic to your blog or website without having to directly urge people to visit. It also showcases your knowledge within your field in a tangible way, prompting potential clients to begin building trust in your capabilities.
Share client features and/or success stories.
Depending on your type of business, this example might include sharing UGC (user generated content) or creating your own features. For example, a clothing boutique can increase interest in their products by sharing UGC of customers wearing their clothes.
Now let’s look at useful conversion-based social media goals for business.
4. Increasing Website Traffic
For most companies, the goal of driving traffic to a website is a key piece of the online sales funnel. Because, their website often represents the step right before purchase (conversion).
All social media marketing efforts present traffic opportunities.
Though some platforms make it easier than others to direct users to your website, the most effective campaigns always have some kind of call to action (CTA) included throughout the content.
Facebook and Twitter make it incredibly simple to direct people onto your website as they do not restrict outbound links.
Instagram only offers you one link (in the bio section).
Snapchat requires you to create a custom snapcode advertisement to get users out of their app and onto your website.
With the above information in mind, you know that your clicks-to-site traffic goals should reflect the realistic possibilities of the platforms you use.
If you plan to advertise on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the website traffic advertising options can help you maximize your site traffic from these social media platforms.
Effective Call to Action on Social Media
How can you create a call to action for a soft sell, without coming across like a hard sell?
Make it about your customer or client, and provide them great value.
Here’s an example:
Restaurant XYZ runs a “Locals Only Monday” special where they offer $3 wine to in-state residents during dinner. The goal is to drive more online reservations through Open Table. Their post may read:
As a whole, the post conveys a community-building message without directly saying, “book a table”.
Now that we know social media can generate traffic, what happens once the user arrives on your website?
These patterns are also something to track!
Your organic and paid efforts should be measured carefully via Google Analytics. You can look for things like platform acquisition, behavior patterns, exit pages and so much more.
Challenge yourself to set highly specific traffic-related social media marketing goals.
Even though there is more to this than just the social media piece, your marketing efforts as they relate to traffic are more complex and the goals should reflect that.All social media marketing efforts are traffic opportunities, so goal for an increase in clicks to site.Click To Tweet
An example social media goal for website traffic:
Generate 250 clicks to the Halloween Sale product page from Facebook between October 1-15th.
- Posting twice daily
- Placement of two offers on Oct 1st and 10th.
- Using remarketing to convert a minimum of 5% of non-purchasing visitors
5. Successful Lead Generation
Research from Crowdtap found that nearly half (46%) of social media users are already using social platforms while thinking about making a purchase.
Social media is a powerful lead generation tool—thanks to it’s foundation in relationship-building.
For goal-setting purposes, let’s define a lead as someone who provides some form of contact information when seeking out specific details on a product or service.
Let’s be honest, it’s difficult to get a potential customer or client to share their email and phone number. However, there are a number of creative ways to accomplish this via social media.
As an example: in 2017, Facebook rolled out a Lead Generation ad option.
This ad has significantly streamlined the Lead Gen process. Organic campaigns often require clicking out of Facebook. Therefore, the paid option is highly attractive as it seamlessly auto-populates user info right into the form.
As seen above, the user clicks submit and they can go right back to scrolling the Facebook News Feed.
This lead generation ad type is also highly affordable when placed correctly. With this new option, it’s easier to set realistic social media goals for business lead gen. As a result, you can track the efficacy of the ad. And, in many cases you can automate the lead directly into your CRM tool.
Whether you choose to advertise or generate leads organically, measuring the number of leads you generate is important. Lead scoring also incredibly important, but that’s a separate KPI (key performance indicator) on the sales side.Social media is a powerful lead generation tool— thanks to it's foundation in relationship-building.Click To Tweet
An example of social media goals for lead generation:
Generate 15 real estate leads per week via Facebook posts.
- Feature photos of community amenities
- Invite users to enjoy a complimentary discovery tour with lunch at the clubhouse
- Implement $50 weekly Lead Gen advertisement
6. More Conversions
Of all the social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram are the most robust as far as actual conversion tracking is concerned.
Thanks to their tracking Pixel, brands can place a code on their website that tracks user activity generated from ads.
What better way to acquire data for your social media goals! (And who said social ROI cannot be tracked?!)
Custom pixels can be placed on the checkout page to track when someone makes a purchase.
In fact, you can place them literally anywhere, to track a variety of other “standard events” such as:
- View Content
- Complete Registration
- ..and more
Depending on your business, conversions may mean a number of different things.
Therefore, consider what it means to your business specifically. Then work backwards to determine where the pixel should live if it triggers ONLY when someone “converts”.
Google Analytics plays a big role in measuring conversions, especially if you aren’t running paid advertising. There are four default types of Google Analytics Goals and you can further customize them as needed, based on the kinds of conversions you wish to measure.
- Pages/Screens per Session
If you choose to place ads on Facebook and Instagram, the conversion ad type offers an amplified method for sending people towards that conversion pixel.
Remember though, the ad will only get them on your website.
Your website UX (user experience) has to be well-designed and your product/service needs to be strong in order for a user to convert a customer.Of all the social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram are the most robust for conversion tracking.Click To Tweet
An example social media goal for conversions:
Convert 100 sales during November 24-27th via social media.
- Send users to the Black Friday Deals page
- Use a bit.ly link in all organic content
- Implement a $50 conversion advertisement
Advertising-Specific KPIs for Social Media
We touched on a variety of marketing efforts that can be increased with ad dollars. Let’s break down some additional specific KPIs for social media, to watch if you’re using paid advertising.
7. Better Click Through Rate (CTR)
This metric is highly relevant in social media marketing because it reveals the efficacy of your ad as it relates to generating traffic.
CTR is the number of link clicks your ad receives, divided by the number of impressions it receives.
In 2016, the average CTR across all industries on Facebook ads was 0.90%.
When setting ad-based KPIs like CTR, it’s important to do some preliminary research on benchmarks in your field. You should also consider the trends of any past advertising so you can set realistic goals.
8. Lower Cost Per Click (CPC)
Facebook and Instagram make it easy to measure the success of your click advertising with their “results” and “cost per results” columns within the Ads Manager.
The CPC metric is calculated as the total amount spent divided by link clicks.
The 2016 average CPC is $1.72.
Be advised that this metric varies widely by industry and like CTR, we recommend further researching what a realistic cost is for your niche.
For example, service industry ads are closer to $3.50 per click whereas apparel and hospitality are closer to $0.50.
CPC, CTR and Relevance Score go hand in hand, so measuring the success of your click advertising will include all of these KPIs. We’ll share a sample goal after we review Relevance Score below.
9. Higher Relevancy Score
Facebook and Instagram provide a “relevance score” for every advertisement you run, scored from 1 to 10.
The quality of your ad is measured in a variety of ways, and perception is a major factor.
Relevance is essentially another word for popularity, and this score directly measures how relevant your ad is to your specific audience.
This doesn’t translate directly to clicks; relevance is measured via positive and negative interaction. An ad can get a like, comment or share without a user clicking out to your website.
Furthermore, an ad can also be hidden—that’s a major ding to your relevance score.
When your ad is producing a high relevance score, that equals lower cost.
Example social media goals for CPC, CTR and relevance score:
Reach an average .90% CTR, an average $0.75 CPC and maintain a 8+ relevance score between the four link-click ads placed in March.
- Create compelling visuals
- Offer enticing copy and CTA
- Conduct weekly split-testing
- Enhance the audience with new incoming data
10. Positive Sentiment
Every business, large or small, can benefit from the nine social media goals and objectives outlined above.
For businesses generating a significant amount of social media chatter, measuring “sentiment” is also a great way to set more measurable social media goals.
Social media sentiment is defined as the positive or negative temperament portrayed by users in their social media post, or engagement on your company post.
Sentiment is the perception of your brand, as stated by those who are directly talking about you via social media.
Tracking sentiment is an exercise in understanding the emotional responses of your fans and critics. Sentiment guides your brand’s response. It’s a huge factor in leveraging social media for customer service.
Effectively measuring sentiment is valuable for brands who are receiving a large amount of comments and who are also likely to be mentioned without a tag (requiring a listening software).
There are a variety of tools available for monitoring sentiment across all social media platforms. Consider the following SAAS products, if this effort aligns with your company needs:
Sentiment score (positive, neutral, negative) can also greatly assist in the strategy and execution behind future products, services and the marketing messages you create for them.Sentiment is the perception of your brand, as stated by those who are directly talking about you via social media.Click To Tweet
An example social media goal for sentiment:
Achieve a 90% (or higher) positive sentiment score by the end of 2017
- Careful execution of a strategic six month marketing plan
- 24/7 live social media customer service
Conclusion: Measure Social Media ROI Successfully
Are you skeptical when it comes to measuring the return on social media marketing?
It may be a challenge, but it’s not impossible.
The first step in determining how to measure social media ROI is to develop measurable, achievable and timely social media goals for your efforts!
In addition, understand that your strategic social media marketing plan will include goals that are both branding and conversion based.
Start setting social media goals that consider the areas of:
- Growing your community
- Consistent, visible branding
- Engaging with your community
Conversions & Advertising
- Increasing clicks to site
- Successful Lead Generation
- More Conversions
- Better click through rate
- Lower cost per click
- Higher relevancy score
- Positive sentiment
Setting realistic social media goals requires focusing in on what means the most to your business for growth.
Can you add any other important social media goals to this list?
Share your comments or questions with us below!