A solid strategy begins with goals and objectives. While social media can be used for ad-hoc campaigns with simple objectives, let’s focus on higher-level business goals.
Many companies are aiming to increase sales by acquiring and retaining customers, or improve brand awareness as measured by marketing surveys. Others look at reducing costs by making their marketing more efficient, streamlining customer service, or improving their customer satisfaction scores. These are the types of business goals that you should ladder up to when developing your social media goals.
With some of these higher-level business goals in mind, what do social media goals look like? You can increase the number of leads, and ultimately sales, that come through social media. This can be a big long-term goal, but it is the holy grail of many companies. Since you are frequently starting at zero, it is easy to show progress, but be sure to set realistic expectations (both in timeframe and results) so your management is not disappointed.
Tactical activities like increasing your Twitter followers or getting more people to like your Facebook page are not in themselves useful social media goals. Yes, these audience- and reach-building efforts are important and should be tracked, but should not be the focus of your social media activities.
Your higher-level goals can be supported by SMART objectives so that you can properly track your progress in meeting your goals:
And make sure everyone agrees on what success looks like in meeting these goals. If, for example, you're focused on brand awareness, make sure you understand how your social media measurements relate to your traditional measurements and how they both move. Depending on how you are measuring the social component, you may have more impact on moving that number than the traditional metric.