How We Set and Measure Ambitious Social Media Goals at Buffer [2017 Version]

 Do you have big goals you’d like to achieve in 2017?

We do, too. In fact, this is our vision for Q1:

Establish Buffer as the premier social media tool for businesses and teams via a focus on branding, content, and community.

That sounds pretty broad, right? And how can social media help us to achieve that vision?

The answer is goal-setting.

The great thing about social media is that you can achieve so many different types of incredible results. From acquiring new customers to using social as a customer service channel, the possibilities are endless. But with so much possibility, it can also be hard to stay on track and laser-focused if you don’t have solid, well-defined goals in place.

Read on to see exactly how we set and measure social media goals here at Buffer. I hope this helps in your 2017 planning and maybe even provides a little inspiration.

Let’s do this!


Our top 5 social media goals

Here at Buffer, we use a combination of goal-setting strategies and techniques, along with OKRs to define our goals for each quarter. Here are our top 5 social media goals right now (in order of importance):

  1. Grow brand awareness around Buffer
  2. Build Buffer’s community
  3. Drive traffic to our blog and generate leads
  4. Establish Buffer as a social media and marketing thought-leader
  5. Use social media as a product and idea launch pad

In certain campaigns, we might be focusing on only one or two of these goals, while in other campaigns, three or four of them might be a top focus.

For example, we might create a video for Facebook on Instagram marketing techniques with the main goal of reaching a target audience of small-to-medium sized agency owners (brand awareness), but this campaign would also serve under the thought leadership goal.

A win-win!

Let’s take a look at what each of these social media goals means and how we go about measuring our success.

1. Grow brand awareness around Buffer

Brand awareness is one of those concepts that is a bit tricky to fully define and measure. But it’s a critical part of getting potential customers into your social media sales funnel.

What is brand awareness?

Definitions vary from business to business based on marketing goals, but essentially, brand awareness is the likelihood that potential (ideal) customers have heard of or are familiar with your brand.

Brand Awareness on Social Media

(Could potential customers identify your logo right away?)

Brand awareness tends to sit at the top of the funnel as its main purpose is to build familiarity with as many people as possible.

When we think about brand awareness in relation to social media at Buffer, the main goal is to create content that reaches as many people as possible – and do that consistently. This is a top goal because the more people we have in the TOFU (top-of-the-funnel) the more opportunities we have to deliver valuable content in the hopes that they give Buffer a try.

Examples of top-of-the-funnel content could include:

  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Facebook Ads
  • Podcasts
  • Guest posts
  • AMAs

This often requires experimenting with new content types. For us, this has meant creating video content, trying out new social platforms, launching a podcast, and more.

Once we’ve built awareness through our TOFU content, the ideas is that people will move through our funnel:

For example:

  • Awareness: Could be watching a video of ours on Facebook
  • Interest: Could be following us on Twitter
  • Engagement: Could be ‘Liking’ one of our Facebook posts
  • Action: Could be joining our email list or signing up to Buffer
  • Advocacy: Could be sharing one of our blog posts with a friend or colleague

By reaching as many people as possible at the awareness stage, we hope to continually keep new leads progressing through our funnel.

How we measure brand awareness on social media

Brand awareness is one of my favorite social media goals to measure because I can directly relate it back to total numbers. Here’s are some of the main metrics I measure:

  • Total Impressions
  • Total Reach (Organic and Paid)
  • Total Engagement (Likes, comments, shares)
  • Audience size
  • 10-second video views
  • Podcast episode downloads

Using a combination of Buffer Analytics reports and in-app metrics, I am able to quickly identify how our social media content is performing in terms of our brand awareness goals.

Buffer Facebook Analytics

(A look at the graph section of our Buffer Facebook Analytics dashboard)

The key part is setting social media goals that are both ambitious and time-sensitive based on previous results.

For example, in Q1 of 2017, I have set a Total Engagement goal of 1,000,000 interactions with our posts across social (Likes, comments, shares). This is because in the quarters leading up to Q1 of 2017, I have identified that 1,000,000 would be a 10% increase in interactions – a lofty goal.

Engagement level is a great sign of the overall health and quality of both blog and social media content. If we increase engagement numbers by 10% in Q1, that means that we’ve not only added folks to our social sphere, but that they’ve also enjoyed our content (and maybe even shared it with their friends!)

2. Build Buffer’s community

Today, social media dominates consumer attention to the point that nearly 20% of all time spent online in the US across both mobile and desktop is on social media.

In 2017, the chances are your potential customers are on social media, they’re interacting with brands, chiming in on important conversations, and looking for the next big thing to be a part of – that’s where you come in!

What is community building?

Community building is the process of engaging, interacting, and proactively making audience members in your social media sphere a part of your brand’s story.

This can take the form of many different marketing activities, but at Buffer we implement a community building strategy on social media through things like:

Here’s a recent Facebook Live session where audience members could ask me anything about Snapchat Spectacles.

And an example of one of our recent social media giveaways on the Buffer Instagram:

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