The key to successful business practices and making sure that you’re actually succeeding is to have goals. And in order to achieve your goals, it’s important to make sure that you’re setting the right ones. But how do you know which goals to set for social media accounts and marketing? Setting goals and benchmarks for social media can seem a little intimidating, especially if you’re new to social media marketing. But with some work and analyzing data, you can easily come up with benchmarks that are appropriate for your particular goals.
Determining your goals
The first thing to do is actually determine what your goals for your social media presence are. Your social media goals should reflect your overall business goals - with a bit more of a specific media focus. It’s important to write down and clearly define your goals. When articulating your goals, it’s important to look at their specific translation into social media benchmarks that will accurately allow you to track your progress with meaningful data.
When you’re setting goals, it’s a good idea to use the SMART method. Using the smart method means that you’ll make sure all of your goals are:
- Specific - Avoid goals that are too vague, such as “earn more followers.” A better goal would be “Increase followers by 20%.”
- Measurable - Make sure you can measure aspects of the goal. Instead of “Make customers like us more,” try using “Increase positive customer engagement by the end of the quarter.”
- Attainable - If you’re a small business, setting the goal to gain 1 million followers by June isn’t exactly attainable. It’s best if your goals push you just beyond your limit. They should make you stretch a bit, but not be outside of the realm of possibility to achieve.
- Relevant - Your goals should align with your overall business plan. Stay focused to avoid getting too distracted with a lot of goals that may not be relevant and spreading yourself too thin.
- Time-specific - Give yourself deadlines to complete your goals by a specific date. Your brand is dynamic and the goal of gaining twenty more comments is more impactful if it’s by the end of the week, as opposed to next year.
Once you’ve established what you’re going to be measuring, you can move on to determining how you’re going to measure them.
Deciding which benchmarks are best for you
How will you decide which stats will be your benchmarks? You have several options when choosing which metrics to focus your goals and benchmarks in, and your options depend on your goals and your particular platform.
Trend Benchmarks - This method is to set your benchmarks based on your own past data. You use your past activity on social media to set your new progress.
Competitive Benchmarks - When you use your direct competitors’ data to set your benchmarks, you’re using the competitive method. To use this method, you find your direct competitors and use their metrics such as likes, engagement rates, etc. to set a baseline for your own brand’s success.
Aspirational Benchmarks - You can also look at industry leaders to set your benchmarks for social media. To use this method, look at who your industry leaders are and attempt to reach or beat their level of success.
Earned Benchmarks - Earned benchmarks are when you compare your metrics and data from regular content to data from specific campaigns and promotions. Once you decide on which method or methods to use, you can begin compiling data to compare your own data to. Which specific metrics you use as benchmarks is going to greatly depend on what your overall goal is. For example, if your goal is to build a relationship with your target audience, you’d probably want to focus on number of likes and comments, and overall number of engagements. Here are some typical benchmark metrics used for social media:
- Reach or impressions (how many people have seen your posts)
- Engagement (how many likes or comments or shares has your post gotten)
- Clicks / Conversions (how many people clicked your links or ended up on your website)
- Increased sales (how many people have used promo codes or links to make purchases)
And once you decide what to measure, you can decide how often to measure your benchmarks. You can gather data by day, by post, or by follower. Gathering data by day would be taking whatever metric you’re measuring (clicks, comments, links, sales, etc) and comparing the totals day by day. You would compare Tuesday’s data to Wednesday’s data, for example, and measure your progress that way. To measure your benchmarks by post, you look at the data based on each post you make. This is better for benchmark metrics and goals that measure the impact and overall reach of your content.
Measuring benchmark data by follower is a great way to see just how far your reach is. To find this data, divide your stat (links, clicks, comments, etc) by the number of followers you have. This will give you a good indication of how many people are seeing and engaging in your posts, and what your overall engagement rate is.
There are many different ways you can measure your benchmarks, depending on your social media platform and specific goals. There are plenty of options to gather data that can be used to see if you’re hitting your benchmarks.
Using context to make achievable goals
You’ll need to know where your brand is in order to set realistic goals for your existing social media presence. Having a goal of 200 new engagements a day could be either over- or undershooting what your brand is capable of achieving. In order to do this, you’ll need to find out where your brand sits in relation to other, similar brands. The best way to do this is to find your direct competitors and others in your field. Compare things like overall number of followers, reach, and engagement rates and find out which companies are most similar to yours.
Comparing your data to brands that are similar to yours will give you a good indication of how you’re progressing in your niche. Even if you’re using aspirational benchmarks to push yourself to the next level, it’s still a good idea to assess where you currently are and see what your competitors and peers are doing.
When you set out to utilize benchmarks, you have plenty of options to create benchmarks that are tailored to your brand’s goals. Deciding which benchmarks are right for you will require analysis and planning, but will be worth it in the long run to make sure that you’re meeting and exceeding your overall brand goals.