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Best Practices to Use Social Media in Online Marketing for Your Brand

Is social media part of your online marketing for your brand? There are many reasons it should be. Most Americans use one or more social channels, so it is a great way to connect with your audience. Further, the cost to use social channels offer some of the best marketing ROI.

Success takes more than signing up. Many small businesses struggle to achieve marketing success on social media. You need an intentional strategy that follows best practices.

How to Use Social Media in Online Marketing

Have a Social Media Marketing Plan

Define your goals and the platforms that are best suited to help you achieve them. Further, define exactly what you need to do on each channel you select.

Pick the Best Social Media Channels

You do not need to be everywhere on social media. I repeat, don’t sign up for every channel you hear about. Use only the channels that your target customer uses. How do you know? Pew has some great national data on social media use. You can also start by asking customers and others who represent your target audience what they use.

Focus on Building the Right Social Communities

Don’t focus on amassing the most followers, focus on connecting with the right followers. You want to use social media to connect with your target audience. Know who your target is and focus on making those connections. Quality trumps quantity every time.

Pay Attention to the Competition

Watching what your competitors do on social media isn’t unethical. It’s smart. Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. Create value by giving your social communities the best value by using best practices you glean as well as ideas unique to your brand.

Listen as Much (or More) than You “Talk”

Social media should be, well, social! That means a two way interaction. Your posts are the equivalent to your part of the conversation. Engagement from your community in the forms of comments, posts, and reactions are their part. Make sure you invite a balance! No one likes people (or brands) who only talk about themselves and doesn’t let others share.

Measure Social Media Marketing Often

Take time to measure the effectiveness of your social media efforts. Your great ideas may be getting you to your goal or they may be falling flat. You won’t know unless you take time to assess. Pay attention to short term data, like the interactions on your most recent post, as well as longer term trends. Don’t be afraid to change your plan to make the most of what’s working!

How to Ensure ROI for Social Media

Social media is not free. It takes time to develop and implement your strategy. Increasingly, you need to pay to get your content seen.

Every business is right to ask if the investment is worthwhile. The only way to know if you are getting a return on your investment for social media, is to set goals and measure success. That’s easy to understand, but deciding what to measure to get meaningful insight can be a challenge.

Metrics let you show the impact of your efforts, allocate resources, track progress and optimize for continued success.

Define the Right Measures of Success
Defining the right metrics starts with having a digital strategy. There, you define your goals. The right metrics measure progress toward your goals.

There are three general types of metrics to consider:

Business-Level Metrics

Business-level metrics speak to the goals of your organization. Here you show how your digital efforts are contributing to the big-picture goals of your brand. Generally, business-level metrics are data that show financial returns like profit and savings.

Examples: Market share, revenue, brand equity, brand awareness, share of voice, customer lifetime value, and brand affinity

Performance Metrics
Performance metrics, also called key performance indicators (KPIs), measure performance against the goals in your digital strategy. This data provides direct measures against the defined goal(s). These metrics generally have set time frames.

Examples: Sales, reach, engagement, engaged users, clicks, traffic, quality traffic, audience growth, leads, mentions, earned impressions, and conversions

Optimization Metrics
Optimization metrics provide insights on how to improve your social media and other digital efforts. This data is collected to show what’s working and what’s not, so that you can fine-tune your online activities.

Examples: Click through rate, cost per click, conversion rate, engagement rate, engagement per post, reach per post, retention rate, and growth rate

Take Time to Assess
With measures defined, determining your ROI on social media becomes easy. Set aside time once a quarter to track your performance. Although you may be active on social media every day, it takes time to see the impact of the effort. You want to understand the trends in your data.

Listen to your data. Make changes as needed. Capitalize on what is working well.