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How to Create S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Social

SMART_blogYou’re smart. But, are your goals as S.M.A.R.T. as you?

Way back in the early ‘80s, business guru Peter Drucker came up with a way to think about goal setting called S.M.A.R.T. (Clearly, this man was a marketer at heart since he created such an alluring acronym).

We believe it can transform your social strategy because it inserts structure, metrics, timelines, and a sense of purpose into every choice you make, before you even post that first campaign Tweet.

2017 Social Media Planning

As you likely already know, all of us here at Simply Measured are big fans of taking time to research your current audience, your competitors’ tactics, and the conversations around your brand before you get into planning a campaign. While we love all the analyses you can run after a campaign, we like to make sure a campaign starts off with a clear picture of what success will look like.

The S.M.A.R.T. approach to goal-setting is all about that initial structure. It defines an effective goal as one that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. If you’re really looking to amp up your social strategy and get the most out of your efforts, some solid upfront analytics and using the S.M.A.R.T. framework makes for a powerful combination.

How to Apply S.M.A.R.T. (Before You Start)

Let’s break down each part of a S.M.A.R.T. approach to goal-setting and look at examples of how you could apply it to planning a social campaign.


Key Questions: Is the goal well-defined? Does it align with overall business objectives in a way that is clear to leadership?

How specific you can get with a goal often increases your chance of achieving it because you focus better and your creativity kicks in.

For example, say you want to increase engagement on Facebook this month.

What about increasing it by 8%?

What about increasing your engagement with videos?

What about increasing video shares by 8%?

See where we’re headed there? The more specific the goal, the more likely you’ll focus your energy on achieving it.

The Facebook Content Analysis report breaks down total engagements by post type over time
The Facebook Content Analysis report breaks down total engagements by post type over time, a handy way to set a baseline for your success with each content type.


Key Questions: How is success or failure of this goal defined? What are the tactics associated with this goal, and what is the point where a pivot or optimization is needed?

Here at Simply Measured, we’re really into, well…measurement. Determining in advance the analyses you’ll do to measure every goal you set is the smartest, most pro way to lay out your plan. You could compare improvements month over month, compare performance of a particular video on different channels, or set goals for web conversion from promoted Tweets.

Let’s pick a example. Perhaps you want to track web conversions from Twitter comparing Tweets with photos of Justin Bieber versus photos with kittens. This would be a riveting race to watch.

What are your goals for each? You’ll need to set a baseline based upon your previous photo posts and then stretch those goals a bit, planning on optimizing for really great photos or more frequent posting of each kind. (If you run this test, please share your results in the comments below. I’d love to see the numbers.)

Chart of Tweets that compares content type from the Simply Measured Twitter Account Report
Your followers may love photos more than videos on Twitter. This chart of Tweets compared by content type from the Simply Measured Twitter Account Report shows comparison data over time.


Key Questions: Is this goal even possible? Is the goal aligned with an understanding of the audience and interest around the product or initiative?

Sometimes our dreams are out in the stars and we’d really be better aiming for the cloud-layer of the earth’s atmosphere. Making sure your goal is attainable requires that you already have a good sense of how you’re doing. Baselines, people. The more of them you have, the better you can set yourself up for reasonable stretch goals.

Let’s say you’re a new clothing brand looking to grow your audience on Instagram. You’re going to hashtag, cross-promote, and influencer-mention your way to success. How has your audience been growing, month-over-month, for the last three months? Would 5% growth in one month be a realistic goal? Maybe it should be more like 3%. You’ll know by checking your past performance.

Chart of follower growth over time from the Simply Measured Instagram Account Report
This chart of follower growth over time from the Simply Measured Instagram Account Report makes the pace of growth over the last month easy to see.


Key Question: Does this goal fit with overall business objectives in a scalable and manageable way?

As you set a goal for a campaign, you must have the overall goals of the business in mind. (Hopefully, they’re S.M.A.R.T., as well. You might want to mention that to your CEO.)

Is your brand new to the game and looking to boost awareness with greater reach on Facebook and Twitter? Then it’s likely best to choose goals around audience growth, rather than web conversions.

Or, are you an established brand looking to drive more sales on your website? Then, get tapped into some Google analytics and pay attention to how your posts are influencing your existing audience’s actions.

Sample Chart of Facebook Insights with Ads Report
Paid ads on Twitter can help boost audience growth and web conversions. Depending on your business plan, you can set a goal for the metric that matters to you then assess the ROI on your ad dollars.


Key Questions: What is the time frame for this goal? When have other brands in the same space reached similar objectives?

Urgency is a great motivator. When you add a deadline to your goal, you massively boost the chance that you’ll hit it and come up with ideas on how to do so. In fact, a useful approach is to set a long-term goal, then work your way backwards, setting smaller goals along the way that will get you there.

Let’s say you are looking to improve your audience engagement on every network where you have a social presence. This seems like an important, but large, goal to go after. You need to figure out by how much and by when for each network. That way, you can get down to the different Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other network tactics that will get you there, and plan your roll out over a six-month period, perhaps.

In the Simply Measured Cross-Channel Analysis Report, this chart of audience growth shares a snapshot of audience growth ups-and-downs over one month.
In the Simply Measured Cross-Channel Analysis Report, this chart of audience growth shares a snapshot of audience growth ups-and-downs over one month.

Get Ready to Get S.M.A.R.T.

Truly, if there is one way to secure your spot as a sharp-shooting, thoughtful, informed, and reliable social media professional, it’s being strategic right from the beginning with all of your campaigns. Anytime anyone asks why you’re spending your time on an activity, you can tell them not only your goal, but how your efforts relate to the overall goals of the business. That’s baller, people.

Please give us your feedback on the S.M.A.R.T. approach to goal-setting. Do you already use it? Do you tweak it to fit your own style? Tell all in the comments below.

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2017 Social Marketing Planning Guide


Bridget Quigg

Hello, fellow Marketeers. My job at Simply Measured is to tell Kevin and Lucy how awesome they are at running the blog. Because, they are.

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