Earlier this week, I wrote a post about the need to build a social media strategy around specific goals instead of simply launching a presence because "everyone else is doing it." Today, I'm going to map out the three primary goals most social media outreach campaigns fall into. If you're still article2_1.jpgtrying to figure out how and why to get involved in social media outreach, consider these three categories and ask yourself how they might apply to your business.

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 either 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: Build the Brand

When it comes to building and reinforcing your brand, social media is one of the most powerful article2_2.jpgmarketing tools available. It gives you the strongest and broadest opportunity to both find your target audience and to engage in conversation with them.

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 Propostion. This is the thing you want to use social media to built awareness of.

If you're a service professional, target a specific niche and build a blogging and Twitter strategy around that. 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.

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. article2_3.jpg

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

Obvious options like buying your products or becoming a lead spring to mind, but don't forget about other valuable actions like subscribing to your newsletter, retweeting a blog post or downloading a white paper.

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 article2_4.jpgonly 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 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 helps you set the stage for your social media efforts. This post isn't aimed at telling you what to do, I'm simply trying to get you to figure out why you want (and need) to do it.

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.

June 24, 2010

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.


Definitely the top 3 benefits in my experience. Thanks, Jennifer, for this great, concise info that I wish I had a couple years ago! Something I have also benefited from is simply the increased traffic to my site. My analytics showed a modest bump in (probably just) curiosity seekers once I delved into FB and Twitter, but apparently this pleased the algorithms enough to also bump me up.

Really good post Jennifer. I think you've hit the nail on the head really - having a social media presence 'just for the sake of it' can be really harmful to a business.

But used appropriately social media are an unrivalled way of building brand strneght and recognition. A well managed use of Facebook and Twitter will drive traffic to a website - it is then up to you to keep your audience entertained and 'moved to action' with valuable content.

I agree with you that goal number 2, "Drive Conversation" is one of the best reason to use social media to help drive traffic to your site. The graphs are very informative and helped me see the whole picture. Thanks for the information.

Excellent article! Now I look forward to reading your other posts. It Washington not entirely new information but I really like the way you explain it.

I was looking for a good reason to get involved with the social media arena. With your goal strategies as a place to get started, I am now confident that this will not be a waste of my time.

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