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Social media marketing is an extremely powerful tool for small businesses. It is affordable, it is relatively easy to use and it provides you with powerful insights into your target audience and the types of marketing they respond to.

However, simply having a Facebook account is not always enough to drive traffic back to your website or effectively generate leads. Even gaining likes or followers often doesn’t necessarily provide a quantifiable return for your business. Many businesses have a large following but no engagement.

No two businesses will have the same social media marketing strategy work in the same way. It depends?entirely on the audience, how/what they deem engaging and how they choose to engage. No two weeks in social media marketing are the same. Social media platforms and their users are constantly evolving and it is a business’s job to keep up. Get left behind and so too will your ability to use social media to drive traffic to your website or generate leads.

When planning your social media strategy there are a few ways to stay ahead:

Set Measurable Goals

As with every other part of your business, goal setting is a crucial element of strategic planning. You need know what it is that you are trying to achieve before you can hope to achieve it. Be as specific as possible and set measurable goals. These can include:

  • Amount of traffic you want to receive from social media
  • Number of fans and followers
  • Ratio of visitors to conversions
  • Number and type of posts compared to the amount of engagement
  • Ratio of audience growth and engagement to sales

Get Creative

Your content needs to be engaging both visually and in terms of messaging. In order to do this, you need to very clearly define who you think your target audience is – keeping in mind that this may change along the way. How are you going to communicate with these people through an image and/or a few short sentences?

This is the part where you need to get creative. Engage your creative side to find a meaningful way to create and share engaging content. They type of images you use and the text that goes along with them will make or break your social media campaign.

Always remember that the creative process is cyclical. It never ends. If something didn’t work, stop doing it and try something else. If something did work, why did it work and how can you use this information to better your future posts and campaigns? What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. Your audience may have changed or evolved.

If you aren’t getting any results (see above), perhaps you need to rethink your creative and/or who it is that you are targeting.

Share, Don’t Sell

Ultimately, businesses are concerned with the bottom line, however this cannot always be the sole focus of marketing activities. Social media is often a very early touch point in a customers purchasing journey. It? often functions primarily to build a brand and relationships. Selling becomes a secondary focus.

Too many businesses think only about how to sell their products and not how they can share engaging content. Content that customers are actually interested in. Be a thought leader in your industry. Share content that will establish your brand as a place that customers look to for something interesting and informative.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use social media marketing to promote products, sales, events and so on. You should. But it should by no means be the sole purpose of your social profiles. Customers often treat brands on social media similarly to their friends. They want to be shown that you really “know” them. You are in tune with their interests, which is an indication that they should be interested in your brand and in turn what you are selling.

Use Analytics & Segmenting

Social media platforms have evolved to support businesses marketing endeavors. Paid social media advertising can prove an extremely effective way to reach a large number of a business’s target market. This type of advertising enables segmentation by age, location, interests, job title and much more. It is a marketers dream.

Increasingly, social media platforms are also providing their own accurate data analytic tools. You can now measure a number of aspects of your social campaigns and then tie their effectiveness to tangible results.

Through these analytics, you can often also see how a well a campaign is progressing whilst it is running. This provides marketers with the opportunity to assess and potentially modify their strategy in real time. If it isn’t working, why keep wasting money on it? If it is working, can we make it even better?