The “Big 6” Social Media Marketing Goals Explained


Most people are terrible at setting goals, especially when it comes to social media.

Are you one of them?

Social media has changed the way humans interact with the world.

There’s no avoiding it.

Most people spend an average of 50 minutes per day hanging out on social media platforms, and many people admit that social media is the first thing they check in the morning and the last thing they see at night.

The number of people using social media worldwide is a whopping 2.8 billion, so it’s pretty much safe to say that social media is the number one way we stay connected to the things we care about.

And for at least 58% of the social media population, brands are included on the list of things we love to interact with on social.

If you’ve ever wondered whether social media is an important channel to consider as part of your marketing strategy, stop wondering.

The answer is:

Yes, social media is important.

Yes, social media can benefit your business.

Yes, you need a strategy.


Yes, #SocialMedia is important. Yes, social media can benefit your #business. Yes, you need a strategy. YES, YES, YES! Click To Tweet

However, as many business owners and CMOs know, social media can be a beast to tackle, especially if you can’t find the right agency, have the wrong expectations or set the wrong goals.


How to Think About Social Media Goals

Social Media Goal Setting Best Practices

Unfortunately, social media is not a clear-cut, 100% return input-output machine. If you put in X amount of dollars (or time), you aren’t always going to get more than X amount of dollars back.

It’s much more complicated than that.

Bear with me as I try to explain…

With social media marketing, the X you put in (time or money) usually generates some sort of Y (impressions, for example).

If you align your goals, expectations, and strategy (and execution on that strategy) you have a chance that the Y converts into more X.

The other variables that affect your success can be pretty tough to define. They are things like:

That being said, earn yourself enough Y and – assuming you’ve aligned the variables appropriately – eventually you will be able to see a lift in X.

By setting goals before you begin, it’s easier to measure success or failure (even if you can’t measure everything).

By setting goals for your #SocialMedia marketing efforts, it’s easier to measure success or failure. Click To Tweet

It’s also worth noting that realistic social media goals aren’t always built around immediate ROI, and frankly, they shouldn’t be.

Most social media marketing is about a mix of revenue now and engagement or providing value to your audience (Y things), rather than direct response – which is more about the immediate tracked sales of your products and services (X things).

So, prepare accordingly.


How should you set your social media goals, metrics, and KPIs?

Metrics and KPIs for Social Media Marketing

When it comes to social media marketing, I recommend you break your goals into main goals and channel-specific goals.


Determining Your Goals

In order to determine what your goals should be, you need to take a look at your business.

Not all companies will have the same set of goals and objectives.

The idea is to figure out which areas of your marketing strategy can be improved by implementing a social media strategy.

And I’ll admit, this can be easier said than done.

We frequently have potential clients coming to us with a set of goals that are either unrealistic or completely wrong for their current business needs.

As an agency, one of the things we do with our clients is help them determine how to set the best goals based on their budget and stage of business.


Death By Impressions

I’m going to go off on a little tangent here, but we recently had a client tell us this long story about how the last agency he worked with completely missed the mark because they didn’t drive any sales for his company.


But, upon deeper investigation of the situation, it turned out that the client had requested that the agency focus solely on growing impressions and not on generating sales.

While in my opinion, it was a mistake of the agency to not question the directions of their client and provide a picture of what it might look like to only focus on impressions, the client himself was the one who set the goals…

And unfortunately, not all agencies would be so bold as to question the requests of their clients.

In the end, the agency lost the client because they didn’t take the initiative to truly understand the needs of the client’s business. They didn’t stop to question the client’s goals and expectations. And they didn’t prepare and educate the client for the client’s long-term success.

This is why it is important to set the right goals based on what is actually in alignment with what success means for you.


The 6 Main Goals For Social Media

  1. Driving Traffic
  2. Brand Awareness
  3. Authority
  4. Account Growth
  5. Engagement
  6. Leads / Sales


Strategies for Setting Metrics and KPIs to Track Success

Once you have your goals figured out, you can decide on which metrics and KPIs are the most valuable to track.

Metrics are the valuable, trackable data points that you can use to track the performance or progress of an initiative (a marketing initiative). Example: inches, dollars, page likes.

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are quantifiable values that we set and use to judge the success or failure of our initiative. Example: 36 inches, $100 dollars, 250 page likes.

What’s the difference between KPIs and metrics and how do they relate to each other?

Basically, metrics are the measurement of tactical efforts and KPIs measure strategic efforts.

Richard Hatheway sums this up quite nicely when he says “Metrics support KPIs. KPIs in turn support the overall business strategic goals and objectives.”

In essence, KPIs are centered around important business metrics and have finite and measurable values.

While KPIs themselves may support a goal, they shouldn’t individually be the goal, but more like supportive “indicators” that you are getting closer to achieving your goal.

Get it?

Me neither…

The best way to define your metrics and KPIs is to look at your main goal and work your way backward and list the items that you know will lead to the goal being met.

Now that you know how to choose your goals and define your metrics and KPIs, let’s jump into the main social media marketing goals, when / how you might incorporate them into your marketing plan, and how to track them.


Main Social Media Marketing Goals for Business:

Reaching Your Goals

Most companies will usually have a combination of these goals and from these goals is how you might choose your tactics that make up the strategy.


1. Driving Traffic

Website Traffic


It shouldn’t surprise you that getting more people to a website or blog is usually high on the list of important social media goals for businesses.

Typically, a B2B company will be creating and distributing blog content, whereas a B2C company is more focused on driving traffic to their product pages. They may still have a blog for SEO value, but most consumer-facing companies we’ve worked with are more interested in driving awareness for their products rather than content.

For that reason, a lot of the strategies we use at Vulpine will often swap out the word “content” for “product” depending on the type of brand we are working with.

Either way, whenever you have content or products on a website, you’re going to want to get people back to these pages.


Why Website Traffic is an Important Social Media Goal

Driving traffic to a website can be really important for a business for a number of reasons.

The people who have visited your website are considered part of your warm audience, and warm audiences convert better than cold audiences in most cases.

  • Website visitors can convert into email subscribers
  • Website visitors can be served retargeting ads (which tend to convert at a higher rate than cold traffic ads)
  • Website visitors are more familiar with your brand and therefore more likely to follow you or engage with you on social media
  • Website visitors can buy products or consume content which leads them further down the funnel towards purchase

On the whole, using social media to drive traffic to your website is a great idea when you have a website that is proven to convert because you can assume that more traffic will lead to more conversions.


Metrics and KPIs

When you set a goal for driving traffic to a website, the goal is mostly focused on a single metric: website sessions.

You can also breakdown sessions by channel, look at bounce rates, page views per user, or perhaps decide that you care more about the number of users instead of the number of sessions (my preferred).

You should also keep in mind the number of repeat users, as this is an indicator that you’ve hooked the user and are providing valuable content.

For that reason, it’s pretty easy to track and measure success.

But, just sending people to a website doesn’t usually seal the deal.

While people may occasionally convert to an email subscriber or a sale, careful consideration must be taken to the website structure, user experience, copy, content and design in order to increase the number of visitors who turn into users / clients / customers.

This is one of the reasons why we always say that social media is the last optimization.

If your site isn’t set up to convert traffic, it’s not cost-effective to focus on driving traffic.

If your site isn’t set up to convert traffic, it’s going to be very costly to drive traffic. Click To Tweet

Furthermore, each piece of content, or traffic source, will convert differently than others. Social media typically converts significantly lower than organic traffic. And you will find that some blog content gets tons of traffic and never converts, while others get mild traffic with strong conversions.

No matter what, when choosing traffic as the goal, it is never the “whole picture.” You must pay attention to conversions as well.

If you aren’t getting any conversions from your traffic, then you need to focus on another goal.


2. Brand Awareness

Post Reach


Building “brand awareness” is another hot ticket item on the social media marketing goals list.

Everyone wants more brand awareness.

And using social media regularly will get you more, however, just being present is not enough for you to directly benefit from any “increased brand awareness.”

Also, the ROI on brand awareness increasing activities is very hard to track since this goal doesn’t directly tie back to revenue.

It can take months for social media to improve brand awareness, and by then, while you may see brand lift, you might not be able to attribute that lift back to social media in a meaningful way.

However, even though brand awareness may seem like an elusive, difficult to measure goal, it is still a crucial element for the success of any business (people need to know who you are in order to buy from you).


Metrics and KPIs

One way that we use to measure and track social media’s effect on brand awareness is by studying reach and impressions.

Reach is the number of people who’ve seen a post, and impressions are the number of times a post has been displayed.

Impressions = Reach * Frequency (number of times someone has seen an ad, must always be 1 or higher)

These numbers can help give you an idea of how many people are seeing your brand and content, and how many times that content has been visible on social media.

Increasing overall reach (as opposed to reach per post) and increasing impressions = increasing brand awareness: there are more and more eyeballs seeing your brand, thus having an impact on the end users awareness of your brand.

Another way to track brand awareness on social media is seeing lift in other social metrics (usually we refer to these as vanity metrics because they don’t tie directly back to your business revenue goals).

While seeing more followers, likes, and shares doesn’t necessarily make you more money, an increasing level of engagement and account growth means that your audience is growing and strengthening.

As your audience grows and the relationship you have with them strengthens through engagement, so grows the number of people who are aware of your brand.

But, social metrics aren’t everything.

You can also track increases in brand awareness by using a keyword search tool like google trends to measure any increases in branded searches, or a social monitoring tool like Brand24 to track branded hashtag usage, keyword mentions or how many times people mentioned your brand across social media as a whole.

Achieving high levels of brand awareness in your niche is a compelling way to steal market share from your competitors, which is one of the reasons why it is such a consistent social media goal.


3. Authority



Building domain authority and thought leadership on social media is again, another hard to measure, but very common goal, especially for startup founders or companies in crowded spaces.

While this goal relies entirely on the ability of the brand to produce high-quality, mind-blowing, exciting content (or products), that content will never see the light of day if it is not being distributed properly.

Social media is a proven channel for content distribution, and not only does creating and promoting original content drive website visitors, it also has an effect on domain authority and thought leadership.

The difference in strategy for achieving status as an expert in the industry has more to do with the on-channel content being created and distributed in the feed.

It is not always ideal to drive people away from social media and back to your website if building authority is your number one goal because:

  1. Social platforms like Facebook don’t like it when you send traffic away from the platform,
  2. People will be more willing to communicate openly with you if they aren’t on your turf, and
  3. More people can publicly see your social media activities – commenting on a post in a group or on a thread – and decide that you know what you are talking about.

Using social media as a tool for building thought leadership gives you a unique opportunity to publicly demonstrate your knowledge as a company representative or even as the brand itself on an even playing field in order to drive personal brand awareness and respect for the company.

As an agency, this can be a tougher goal for us to crack because it does rely heavily on our client partners to actively participate in the strategy.

Thought leadership and domain expertise are things you cannot completely outsource.

#ThoughtLeadership and #DomainAuthority are things you cannot outsource. Click To Tweet

As a rule of thumb, whatever is the “secret sauce” that makes your business unique (or your core competency – what you’re known for) shouldn’t be something you try to pass off to a third party.

But, for our clients who are looking to build thought leadership in their industries, we have a wide range of tactics that allow us to aid in the authority building process, so long as our clients are willing to dedicate the time to following through.


Metrics and KPIs

Trying to quantify the level of thought leadership or domain authority of a company or personal brand is no easy feat.

As with brand awareness, it’s the kind of thing that you may not be able to measure outright, but you know it when it’s there.

I like to use Klout score or Kred score as a baseline for measuring social influence as it grows over time.

These scores usually increase as you become more active and influential on social media, so seeing a continued rise in Klout or Kred score can indicate growing authority.

Another authority metric, though only relevant if you are using certain strategies and platforms to build influence, would be something like “# of upvotes received per post.”

If you are using Quora, Inbound, Growthhackers, Reddit, or any of the forum-style platforms where people place votes on your posts, when you see an increase in positive community response to what you say, you can assume that you are working your way towards thought leadership.

Also, if you notice an increase in the number of people or brands that reach out to you or your company for quotes, interviews, podcasts, or any other type of feature or mention, this means that you are becoming more of an expert in your industry and others are taking notice.

#GoYou 💯💯💯


4. Account Growth

Account Growth


I’ve pretty much never worked with a client who didn’t want their social accounts to grow.

When you do good social media marketing, your accounts will grow. End of story.

But, how fast they grow really depends on so many different factors that it’s hard to predict and impossible to force.

That’s why many brands purchase followers, to make themselves appear more influential.

But, this often backfires as low engagement rates trigger algorithms to show your posts to less people, including your real audience.

Also, you will have trouble analyzing the demographics and other important information about your true audience because the fake or paid follows will corrupt your data.

As the fake profiles get deleted or the people who were paid to follow you unfollow your profile, your account will experience negative growth, and sometimes this effect is really hard to combat, even if you are gaining new, real followers organically.

Avoid the temptation. You will be better off.


Metrics and KPIs

Measuring account growth is an easy one.

How many followers do you have?

How many did you have at the same time last month?

Subtract last month from this month, divide by last month and move the decimal over 2 spots to see your rate of growth.

Now you can measure your account growth rate and see if you grew faster in one month than the last and try to figure out what you did (if anything) that increased the growth rate.

Did you tweet 800 times? Follow 800 people? Participate in a 100 facebook group conversations?

These are some of the questions you can ask to pinpoint which tactics are improving growth rate on specific channels so you can continue optimizing your strategy to meet your goals.


5. Engagement

Social Media Engagement


“Engagement” is a word that gets thrown around a lot when you deal with setting social media marketing goals.

While engagement metrics are easier to track than many other social media metrics (all of the major social networks have on-platform analytics readily available), they are mostly seen as vanity metrics because a post like doesn’t directly equal monetary gain.

However, having an engaged audience on social media is a coveted asset.


Why increasing engagement is an important goal

Engaged audiences are worth a lot these days because:

  • They are difficult to build,
  • They provide valuable insight into your potential and current customers,
  • They help increase awareness for your brand, and
  • They are easier to monetize.

If people aren’t engaging with your brand on social media, they aren’t pickin’ up what you’re throwin’ down, which means it’s time to go back to the drawing board and figure out where the drop-off is occurring.

Low engagement levels may be due to a number of different things, or a combination of those things, but the most glaring reason why engagement may be low is likely due to content strategy in some way or another.

It’s fairly simple: content is what drives engagement.

If you don’t post anything, no one will respond.

If you post crappy content, people may not respond, in fact, they may even unfollow you.

Did you know? Facebook weights negative feedback on posts much higher than positive feedback, so continuously posting crappy content on Facebook will effectively eliminate your reach.

If you post great content, people may respond and people may follow you.

If you post great content all the time, more people may respond and more people may follow you.

The more you post great content, the more chances you are giving yourself to build an engaged audience.


Metrics and KPIs

The most important engagement metric to measure on any channel is the number of shares you are getting on your content.

This can be retweets, repins, reposts, pretty much anything that a person can do that helps your content get in front of more people.

Other important engagement metrics can be how often people mention you, message you, or comment on your posts.

When people are engaging with you, it’s a good sign that they are enjoying your content and responding to your brand voice.

This information can help you further define your branding, from on-site copy to how you write your blog posts, because you have a clear idea of what people are enjoying on social.

Also, with high engagement comes increased virality.

Engagement is important because high engagement leads to increased virality. #SocialMediaTips Click To Tweet

The more people who interact with your brand and your content on social media in a positive way, the more new people will see your posts, the more your account will grow and the more people you will reach, therefore, engagement is a huge driving factor for reaching many of the other goals on this list.


Customer Service

People often forget that social media is not just about customer acquisition. It is also beneficial for customer retention.

One form of engagement that your brand may experience on social falls under the wing of customer service.

Many consumers today use social platforms as a way to bypass having annoying phone conversations with unintelligent robots or sad people crammed into call centers.

If you are not present to respond to them, you are giving your customer a negative brand interaction.

Social media marketing is all about harnessing the power of numerous positive brand interactions, built over time.

#SocialMedia marketing is all about harnessing the power of numerous positive brand interactions over time. Click To Tweet

Every time a customer has a negative brand experience, you fall down the ranks and open yourself up to the possibility of building brand haters rather than brand advocates.

And when haters start talking trash on your brand, if no one is there to handle the fury, it can get out of control quick.

But, having a dedicated person (or team of people) regularly checking social media platforms and responding to customer inquiries, complaints, and reviews opens the door for deeper, positive brand experiences.

This is why it can be beneficial to track metrics like “how many customer service complaints did we handle” or “number of reviews responded to” and see if your retention and referral rates are affected by these numbers.


Leads and Sales

Leads and Sales

Ah yes, leads and sales.

Now we’re at the good part, right?

While most social media goals are not necessarily tied back to revenue, if you’re not leveraging social media to acquire leads and generate sales in some fashion, you’re doing it wrong.

But, the truth is, most companies only want to focus on the leads and sales portion of social media goal setting.

The problem with this is that if you don’t work on the other non-sales-driven goals in conjunction with sales-focused activities, it is unlikely that your number of sales related to social media will grow.

People don’t go on Facebook to buy stuff.

They go there to see how their family and friends are doing, or to be entertained while they wait in line at the pharmacy, or to look at pictures of cute, extremely tiny farm animals…

You need to be thinking about how your company can steal attention away from a teacup piglet eating an ice cream cone under a tiny umbrella.

Piglet eating an ice cream cone

Photo Credit: Richard Austin, found on



And guess what?

No one is even going to see your posts if you haven’t taken the time to work on building an engaged audience.

No one is going to click on your ad if you haven’t focused on building brand awareness or studying what your audience deems as relevant.

So jumping the gun and saying “to hell with engagement, all I need are leads and sales” is a surefire way to fail at social media marketing.

But, if you’ve already invested the time and energy into the goals that ultimately affect how successful you will be at driving leads and sales, now’s the time to start thinking about how you might achieve your revenue goals with social media.


Metrics and KPIs

Some forms of business (like eCommerce, for example) are easier to track direct sales than others.

With eCommerce companies, there’s usually a way to set up conversion tracking with associated dollar amounts in Google Analytics. While the data might not always be 100% accurate, you can at least see some direct social media results by check the source of the conversion.

You can even get some insight into assisted conversions, where social may have played some part in the sales process, and attribute the worth of an assist accordingly.

With companies whose sales are often closed over the phone or in a 1-to-1 environment, the effect that social media has on direct sales is a little bit murkier.

As an agency, we’ve found that it’s pretty hard to prove to our clients that what we are doing on social is having any effect on sales if the proper tracking and attribution isn’t set up on the website, which is why we take setting up tracking so seriously before we begin our services.


Dealing with Unqualified Leads

Sometimes, with increased traffic coming from social, some companies will experience a higher level of unqualified leads coming in and get frustrated with the social media process.

Unqualified leads are still leads, so if you are looking to social for lead generation, make sure you understand how to put the systems in place for nurturing those leads instead of assuming that social media isn’t making you money.

This can mean studying your buyer’s journey and using some resources to creating content that pulls people from social further down the funnel to the point where they might be considered an MQL (marketing qualified lead) or having a pre-qualifying process in place to segment out people who might not be ready to purchase yet.

If you can capture their information, you can continue to market to them on other channels (like email) until they are ready to become a customer.


Why Just Showing Up is Not Enough

Showing Up Is Not Enough

In the end, whatever your goals for social media are, there needs to be a sound strategy (tactics and plan of action) to drive the desired results.

Expecting to achieve an astronomical number of sales from social media just because you hired a freelancer to show up and post once a day is like expecting to win the lottery without even purchasing a ticket.

Posting blindly is not a viable strategy because it won’t help you hit your goals.

Posting blindly is not a viable strategy because it won’t help you hit your goals. Click To Tweet

Back a few years ago, it might have been okay for brands to post a few updates here and there and call it a day, but those days are long gone.

There’s a reason why so many people are “addicted” to social media, and it has nothing to do with a random status update posted by a local plumber, I assure you.

(Remember the piglet?)

Piglet Eating Ice Cream Facing Forward

Photo Credit: Richard Austin, found on


The fact is, being there just isn’t enough.

With social media, your brand has the opportunity to engage with its customers in real time:

  • Responding to customer service inquiries and solving problems on channel
  • Thanking a customer for a positive review
  • Searching for people talking about your brand (or your competitor’s brand) and jumping in on the conversation

These are just some of the many ways brands can interact with their audience and grow a loyal following, which should probably be the number one goal of most businesses who plan to invest in social media marketing.

The main goal for businesses who plan to invest in #SocialMediaMarketing should be to provide an easy and enlightening way for people to interact with their brand. Click To Tweet


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Shana Haynie
COO and Creative Director at Vulpine Interactive
Shana is dedicated to helping exciting companies create contagious brands and passionate fans on social media. She's a self-proclaimed Social Media Ninja , Creative Mompreneur, Lover of laughter, life and libations, a Wannabe chef and the Creative Director / COO at Vulpine Interactive.