Managing social media in a strategic manner will help yield more effective results. When executed strategically, social media has the power to drive traffic to your website, create awareness and engage potential customers. The following steps will help you to create an effective social media marketing strategy.

A strong social media plan starts by identifying your company’s goals and objectives. What are you seeking to achieve? Do you want to highlight certain products? Are you looking to drive traffic to your website? Are you looking to educate, engage, create brand differentiation and/or drive sales? By identifying your goals, as a first step, you’ll have the direction needed to choose the right platforms, and establish an appropriate message. 

Most likely your social media target audience is directly in line with your companies target, but perhaps you’re looking to reach a subset of your target with social efforts. Either way, by understanding your target audience, as it applies to social media, you’ll be in a position to effectively tailor your messages, content and photography style as well as determine the appropriate social media platforms to choose.

Not all social media platforms are appropriate for every business. Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram won’t necessarily work for everyone. Pinterst and instagram are excellent for featuring images. If you have a visual product, and good photography, they are excellent platforms for showcasing your products. More importantly they provide a good opportunity to display industry related products as well. These types of posts can link back to your website and/or profiles. LinkedIn has its place for a range of business types, but can be more effective for B2B marketers looking to reach specific employees inside companies. Facebook and Twitter have such a general, and wide audience that these two can be used effectively for most business types. 

Content can take on a variety of forms in social media. Start with defining the types of content that would be appropriate for your target audience. Good content is often made up of a variety of industry tips, engaging photography, videos, industry news, etc. Content should be useful, relevant, and entertaining. Promotional content can be part of the mix, but should be limited to about 20% of your postings. Too much promotion will turn off viewers. Promotional content can include offers that encourage engagement and drive traffic to your website. Other promotional content can include links to your blog and/or showcasing products or services.  

How much is too much? Industry best practices continue to evolve; however the recommended quantity of social media postings may surprise you. Multiple, daily Facebook and Twitter postings are now being encouraged. The key, however, is to make your content engaging and useful to the audience. When this is done the right way your social media content will be embraced, rather than viewed as intrusive. 

Establishing a posting schedule, or editorial calendar, is a great way to maintain a consistent presence in front of your audience. Like other marketing efforts, frequency is essential to gaining recognition for your message, and by posting on a regular basis you’ll maintain a consistent online presence. 

Your social sites are a direct extension of your brand. As a result social media profiles should be designed professionally in the same look and feel as your other marketing materials. Furthermore, the profiles should be filled out in their entirety. Several social platforms will boost your presence when they are completely filled out. The inclusion of videos, links to blogs, and reviews will all have an effect on how your pages perform. The more information and content the better. Photography is also very important when developing your social media pages. High quality photography can have a significant impact on positioning your business as sophisticated and established. Good photography also has the power to engage the audience.  

Understanding how your social media efforts are performing will allow you to make adjustments as you go. Metrics systems keep track of new likes, visitors, comments, reviews, etc. This type of information can be tracked week-to-week or month-to-month. After some time you’ll begin to track patterns that will show you what’s working and what’s not. Metrics can be excellent for determining what types of content and platforms are getting the most attention.