Understanding the Three Primary Goals of Social Media


(Five years later, this article is still one of Jen’s most popular observations, driving tons of search traffic each week. We thought we’d revisit it with an update, a new intro and a bit of relevant perspective. Enjoy!)

It seems a little funny to think that five years ago I was writing about the need for businesses to recognize that their social media investment needs to be about more than the teenage “everyone else is doing it” mentality. Why is it funny? Mostly because all these years later we still have that conversation with prospective clients on a regular basis.

Despite the ongoing need for that conversation, the truth is we’ve come a long way in five years. We’re starting to understand more about how to value social media efforts as well as how to properly measure them. We’ve seen the introduction of new metrics like Amplification, Applause and Conversation that now exist alongside more easily understood metrics like Economic Value.

How does your brand hold up with these new metrics? Give us a call today to help conduct a social media audit.

With metrics to hold us accountable, it’s becoming easier to not just build, but to measure, adjust and recognize the success (or failure) of a particular campaign.

Still, in order to build a measurable plan, you have to have an idea of the types of things you can accomplish in the realm of Social Media. So whether you’re coming at things from the marketing side or the PR/communications side, whether you’re part of customer service or product development, or whether you’re just a tiny little business looking for exposure, you can’t get anywhere without an idea of what’s possible.

That’s why it’s essential to understand the three key areas of business that can be impacted most effectively by social media and to use those as your starting point.

Three Primary Social Media Goals

When we look at online marketing, there are three broad categories into which nearly all social media related goals can fall. They are usually aimed at:

1. Building/Strengthening the Brand

2. Driving Conversions

3. Increasing/Monitoring the Presence

Starting at this broad level and thinking about the goals you have for your business can help you begin to write up a list of realistic ways in which social media might help you reach those goals.

Let’s take a closer look at these three areas and how they might apply to your social media efforts.

Goal #1: Building the Brand

When it comes to building and reinforcing your brand, social media is one of the most powerful tools available. It gives you the strongest and broadest opportunity to both find your target audience and to engage in conversation with them. It opens the door that can allow you to shape the way your brand is viewed and to leverage consumer opinions to aid that mission.

These days, you have no choice but to differentiate yourself from your competitors unless you have an exclusive product. Otherwise, you’re forced into the unwinnable battle of competing for the lowest prices and the fastest shipping. Think about the things that make your company different from your competitors – your Unique Value Proposition. This is the thing you want to use social media to shape conversation around and build awareness of.

If you’re a service professional, target a specific niche and build a content marketing strategy around it. Demonstrate your expertise in working with a certain type of client and then seek out those types of clients to have conversation with. Look for new ways to connect with them and encourage your current clients to socially share your articles with their networks.

If you sell a product, ask yourself if your want your company to be known for its products or for the lifestyle your products are associated with. Then formulate a content marketing and influencer outreach program based on boosting the conversations about those topics.

Goal #2: Drive Conversions

One of smartest reasons to use social media is for the potential boost it can have to your conversion efforts. Whether you’re looking to drive sales, increase leads or simply drive people to action, conversions are an easily trackable goal in the realm of social media.

Sit down and write out a list of all the potential actions someone might take while engaging with your company’s website or while interacting online.

Obvious options like buying products or generating a lead spring to mind, but don’t forget about other valuable actions like subscribing to your newsletter, sharing a piece of content or downloading a white paper. The latter actions play into content marketing, and although more subtle, can often have the most impact on the bottom line.

Read over your list and think about the different ways you might be able to use social media to increase conversions for each item. Often times, this is the best way to start planning your social media efforts.

Goal #3: Increase Presence

Finally, we come to the goal most often associated with social media outreach efforts – increasing the conversation about your brand. After all, social media is all about the conversation. It’s about the only space in the world where consumers talk to each other and to companies in an environment that can be tracked, sorted and followed-up with. This makes social media a prime outlet for PR-driven companies who want to know what customers are saying about them.

Setting up even a baseline of social media monitoring can go a long way toward helping you follow these conversations. Whether you’re launching a new product and aiming to get people buzzing about it or trying to reach out to a new target audience to share information about one of your best selling services, it’s all trackable.

When it comes to the conversation people might be having about you online, ask yourself a few questions.

· Who do you want to hear talking?

· What do you want them to be saying?

· Who do you want them to say it to?

These are your starting points for setting up key goals within the realm of increasing your presence.

You’ve Set the Stage, Now Start Building a Plan

Looking at your business with each of the above goals in mind will help you set the stage for your social media efforts. If you’re small business looking to take your social media efforts up a notch (or maybe even just get started,) take the time to define at least two goals from the categories above. Once you’ve identified your desired outcome, you’ll be a lot more ready to start mapping out the path to get there.

If you are a larger company or an agency working with a variety of brands, sit down and rethink your existing strategy with these three areas in mind. Have you established measurable goals related to these three areas? If not, consider the ways you might be able to tighten up or fine tune your efforts through the establishment of new goals. If you know you need a change but aren’t sure where to start, let SugarSpun help you get back on the right track. It’s never too late to consider a change in direction or to fine tune your approach.


Jennifer Cario

Jennifer Cario has dedicated her career to creatively helping businesses and consumers connect in a way that positively impacts the bottom line. With over 20 years of industry experience, she has also written several books and developed social media training curriculum in use by hundreds of colleges, universities and enterprise companies around the world. Jen consistently develops fresh ideas and methods for communicating within the world of marketing.

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  1. […] of a social media plan if you don’t know what you’re hoping to gain from it. Potential social media strategy goals could be to drive traffic to your company website, increase brand awareness, or build relationships […]

  2. […] Social Media is a way to connect, engage, and communicate with people, businesses, and organizations. Whether it is a picture that is being shared on a personal Facebook page, or a new video that has been posted on a company’s twitter feed the purpose remains the same. The purpose is to gain attention of followers and to increase followers in order to get a certain message across or gain popularity. Qualman makes a good point in his book Socialnomics by asking “Who cares what you’re doing anyway?”. This can be applied to the people who must post every second of their day on a social media network. Most people are not interested in knowing a person’s every move, and social media has provided a solution to this problem by giving members options through settings on their mediums which allow a person to determine what they see, how often they see it, and when they will receive notifications. In reaction to his point about social media maybe being “just a fad”, I would argue that the actual mediums such as Facebook and Instagram might be fads, however social media itself is not something that I see dying out. Its another way for people to express themselves and their individuality. Such as fashion. Fashion itself is not a fad. However certain styles like bell bottom jeans, or crop tops are fads. People will always feel a need to express themselves and technology and social media has made it easy for people to do so. Brands and companies use social media similarly, but on a more professional scale compared to the average person. In the end it’s all about the brand image a company uses to portray itself. This is important in order for a company to reach its target audience.A companies social media presence can be very helpful or harmful.  Sugar Spun Marketing’s blog post called “Understanding the Three Primary Goals of Social Media” brought up some interesting points that can be applied to the market and business world. (http://www.sugarspunmarketing.com/blog/social-media/understanding-the-three-primary-goals-of-social-&#8230😉 […]

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