2014-26-June-Goal.jpgI have a lot of conversations with B2B marketers. And you know what? They’re all struggling to figure out what the right goals are for social media.

I’m not saying they don’t know what they hope to achieve (hint: leads). It’s just that these smart marketers seem unsure of themselves when it comes to setting measurable goals for social media. No wonder there’s still confusion about Social ROI!

So what’s going on?

Questions to Answer Early On

When it comes to goal setting, too many B2B marketers stumble out the gate by not giving enough thought to these key questions:

What are your objectives for social media?

There are a number of objectives you can strive for. Maybe it’s building brand awareness, generating leads, deepening relationships with your customers or driving brand advocacy. The list goes on and on. The important thing is to have everyone on the same page regarding which objectives you’re shooting for … and the knowledge that you can’t do all of them at once!

How committed is your team to social media?

Hopefully I’m not the first to tell you that making social media work takes a ton of effort. So the goals you set should reflect the time and resources your organization has dedicated to moving the dial as it does with every other marketing initiative. For example, how many blog posts, status updates and tweets can you (and your team) really do on a monthly, weekly and daily basis?

On which social media platforms will you focus?

Everyone gets that blogging is important and so is being active on LinkedIn and Twitter. But does Facebook really work for B2B? Are YouTube and Google Plus worth the trouble (not to mention all the other social media networks out there -- Instagram, anyone?)? The ones you invest in should depend on where your target audience is active, what your main objectives are, the amount of resources you commit and what your competitors are doing.

How will you track and measure progress?

Do you know how to track and measure social media efforts independently from your other marketing programs? This is where Hootsuite, Google Analytics, Bit.ly and dedicated landing pages come in. What will your weekly, monthly and quarterly reporting look like for social media? Figuring out the right goals will help ensure you’re reporting on the relevant metrics.

4 Stages of Social Media

Most B2B marketers don’t understand that when it comes to setting goals, there are four stages to social media. And the specific goals you set should be a function of which stage your company is in and what your social media objectives are. Nothing undermines social media progress more than getting this wrong.

Stage 1: Activity-Based Goals

Do you remember the last time you joined a gym? Your first goal was just to show up every week, right? Then you focused on losing weight, etc. The initial stage of social media is like that. The important goal at this stage is your activity: the number of blog posts per month, tweets per day and status updates per week that you and your team can do.