What should be the objective for your next social media campaign?

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When you’re setting up a campaign on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other social network’s advertising platform, you’re given a variety of main objectives to choose from: Engagement, followers or page likes, link clicks, and more. While all of these seem like reasonably good options, you’ll want to specifically tailor your campaign’s objective to meet whatever goals you have for the post(s) you’re about to broadcast to a wider audience beyond your current group of followers.

Of the many essential elements of social media strategies, choosing the appropriate objective is arguably one of the most important. Here are some things to consider for each type of objective you might consider:

Engagement. Engagement on social media posts relates to audiences liking, commenting and/or sharing or re-tweeting a post that you sponsor or boost. This objective has the advantage of putting your best content in the spotlight or promoting a specific item or event to raise awareness prior to a product launch or event day. However, the downside to engagement as a primary campaign objective is that some of your engagement figures might derive from social media spam bots. This means that your engagement figures might look amazing and your cost-per-engagement is lower than you expected but these figures are at least partially inflated by bots instead of real people.

Engagement is more of a short-term strategy to raise awareness about a specific thing (company announcement, new product or service, upcoming event, etc.), rather than gaining new followers for your social media page who would engage with you on future posts or even visit your brand’s website.

Page Likes/Followers. As a long-term strategy for building your brand, you may wish to emphasize page likes (Facebook) or followers (Twitter and LinkedIn) as your primary campaign objectives. Through these types of campaigns, you have the option to employ A/B testing in your social media strategy to see what ad copy and images rack up the greatest number of page likes/followers for your brand and continuously fine-tune your strategy to bring in more followers each time you run a campaign.

While building a large social media following is important for any brand, the downside to this campaign objective is that many followers may never like, comment on, or share your posts. This means that, over time, the only significant metric you might see is post views from a large group of unengaged social media followers. To avoid this, it’s important to create solid content on a consistent basis, engage your followers (ask them questions, run contests and/or giveaways, etc.), and provide real opportunities for them to get involved with your brand beyond liking your page.

Link Clicks. Link click campaigns are one of the most useful social media strategies for product/service based businesses with something valuable to offer audiences. While not every click will convert to a sale, driving audiences to your website using well-researched demographic targeting is an excellent way to increase the likelihood of accumulating more sales and long-term customers compared with other social media objectives.

While engagement and page likes or followers are helpful objectives for brands that want to build their social media presence for long-term benefits, the link click objective could lead to results much more quickly by largely skipping the necessity of liking or commenting on a social media page or post and driving customers directly to your website.