The Most Popular Marketing Goal for Brands on Social Media

Ever stop to ask yourself what exactly you’re trying to accomplish on social media?

Seriously, think about it.

What are your top goals? What would have to happen for you to say you’re successful?

More followers?

More traffic to your website?

More likes on your latest selfie?


(Okay, that last one is a pretty solid goal.)

You’re free to create your own definition of success – in fact, you should – but knowing how other brands define their goals can give you some pretty valuable context! The better you understand common objectives and challenges, the more perspective you have on your own.

So, what are some of the most popular goals that brands have on social media?

Social Fresh recently published a study answering that very question – they asked hundreds of digital marketers about how they define success, and how much time they actually spend on social.

You can check out the full report here, but here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most surprising insights:

The most popular social media goal

What do more than three out of four digital marketers want out of social media?


76% of respondents cited it as one of their top goals – in fact, it was the only goal that more than half the respondents could agree on! (Lead generation finished in second place with only 47% of marketers choosing it.)

But the pursuit of “awareness” highlights some of the trickiest things about social media marketing.

Simply reminding people that you exist isn’t exactly setting a high expectation for yourself – and when you aren’t careful, low expectations can lead to low standards, and low effort.

(After all, if making people “aware” of you is your top priority, you can do that by pretty much just showing up to the party.)

Branded Tweet

The fact that awareness is such a priority for brands on social media speaks to the problem of what marketers call noise – in this case, low-value chatter that exists without any real goal other than being heard. Effectively building and maintaining brand awareness on social media requires a certain amount of respect for your audience, because otherwise, you’re just creating noise!

(As anyone who’s spent time with a screaming toddler will tell you, making noise is an effective way of making people aware of you – but it isn’t necessarily an effective way of making them like you.)

Mayhem Tantrum

The other big problem with trying to generate awareness? It’s hard to determine its success.

Sure, you can measure how much awareness a status update generated by answering the question of how many people saw that update. But how does that translate to overall awareness – the space you occupy in those people’s memories, the feelings they associate with your brand, and the likelihood that they’ll become a customer, stay a customer, or refer you to a friend?

(See? “Awareness” can be a lot more complicated than it sounds!)

There’s a reason social is what they call “earned media” – if you want to keep your space in someone’s feed, you’ve gotta earn it! The key to earning it isn’t just in being seen, or awareness for its own sake – it’s in creating and sharing a variety of quality content that will actually be valuable to the people who see it.

This is where it’s easy to get it wrong

Social media marketing takes more than just a few plain status updates – and that’s where a lot of brands get stuck.

Of the marketers surveyed in this study, only 58% are writing a blog post even once a month. Other types of content – like webinars, infographics, podcasts, and videos – are even less popular!

(79% of marketers are creating images to go with their posts at least once a month, so at least that valuable strategy isn’t being ignored.)

This all raises some big questions about what brands are posting – especially because leaning too heavily on plain old self-promotion isn’t necessarily an effective approach.

This goes to show just how much you need a strategy.

Marketers spend 2/3 as much time just publishing to social media as they actually spend developing content in the first place – and when you factor in other daily tasks like engaging with your audience, strategic planning, listening (like checking notifications and mentions), and monitoring analytics, you’re looking at more than 80% of the day.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Marketers spend 2/3 as much time publishing to social media as they spend developing content.” usehashtags=”no”]

80% of your day is a lot – especially if social media management isn’t your only job!

This is one of those times when it pays to work smarter, not harder – to save time where you can, so you can spend more time on the things that deserve your attention. (If you’re spending two hours publishing status updates for every three hours you spend writing blog posts, you can use your time more efficiently.)

Saving time on simple tasks like publishing to social allows you to be more thoughtful with everything else you do – and the more thoughtful you are, the more strategic and successful you can be.

What comes next

The most important lesson we can take away from this study?

Focus on improving what you already do, rather than looking for something new.

When asked what tools they planned to invest in the most over the next year, most marketers said Facebook. Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn were next – but Pinterest and Snapchat were each chosen by less than 15% of respondents.

Even if it feels like you’ve been on the same grind for quite some time, there’s still plenty of room to improve – focus your attention on finding ways to use your time more strategically, rather than looking for the next big thing!

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