The afternoon lunch trip is an interesting experience. The next time you go, take a moment to look at the groups that are eating together. How many of them are talking and interacting with each other, and how many of them are sitting there starting at their phones?

According to tech.co, the number of people using social media is expected to grow by 17 percent this year — or 285 million more people logging on to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Instagram. That’s a huge market that every company wants a piece of.

The study also said marketing firms or departments plan to earmark nearly 21 percent of their 2018 budgets for social promotions. But 65 percent are unable to calculate a Return On Investment (ROI) on those dollars spent. They simply don’t know how to effectively track the bang for their buck.

Sysomos is a Toronto-based social media analytics company that works with companies to use the data generated by your social media platforms to create actionable customer-engagement opportunities. It released five practical tips for setting measurable social media goals. You can go to Sysomos to download the full report. Tip 2 is the most relevant today, and that’s to use S.M.A.R.T. goals to measure your social media effectiveness in 2018.

The acronym was first used in 1981 by George T. Doran in a magazine about effective management. Doran wrote that goals need to be:

  • Specific (significant, sensible, simple)
  • Measurable (motivating, meaningful)
  • Achievable (attainable, agreed)
  • Relevant (results-based, realistic, reasonable)
  • Time bound (time-sensitive, time limited)

Sysomos suggests using S.M.A.R.T. to track your efforts — making a substitution for the “R.”

  • Specific. Instead of setting a nebulous goal, such as “attract more visitors” to your website, set a specific goal: “Increase visitors by 20 percent.”
  • Measurable. Figure out your metrics. If you are seeking unique visitors and you get about 10,000 a month, then your goal is to increase that to 12,000.
  • Achievable. If you are getting 10,000 unique visitors a month, it makes no sense to set a goal of 100,000 unique visitors a month in one year.
  • Realistic. Is your organization ready for the growth if it comes? Lots of companies want to increase business by 20 percent but don’t have the capacity to handle that kind of growth. Make sure you are ready if you meet your goals.
  • Time bound. Set beginning and end dates so you can track the results. Then do a new campaign on a different platform or using a different message or style (such as video). Only by trying and tracking several campaigns can you figure out what’s most effective.