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In last month’s blog I admitted that I’m not a big social media guy. But that doesn’t mean I don’t understand the marketing power of social media. About eight out of 10 people in this country are active on at least one social media platform, so ignoring it would be a big mistake.

This raises the question: How exactly do you do social media marketing? I’m glad you asked! Here are my 7 tips for creating a social media marketing plan:

1. Define Your Target Audience

What are the key demographics of the customers and prospects you’re trying to reach with social media? If you’re a B2C company, focus on demographics like age, gender, marital status, occupation, income and ZIP code. If you’re a B2B company, focus on your target companies’ size (in both revenue and number of employees), industry, location and niche.

In defining your audience, think about their unique challenges and “pain points” (I really hate that buzzword!). This will help you plan your social media content strategy.

2. Create a Content Strategy

Content is King! This is another marketing catchphrase I hate, but it’s true. Quality content will form the foundation of your social media marketing plan. Social media content consists mainly of blogs, articles (these are essentially the same thing), whitepapers, case studies, e-books, info-graphics, listicles, tweets and such.

Notice that I said “quality” content. The social media content you create must be timely, engaging, informative and well-written. Otherwise, your strategy could backfire and your social media marketing can end up doing more harm than good.

3. Identify the Right Channels

There are lots of social media platforms to choose from so you need be selective and choose the ones that are the best fit for your business and your target audience. For example, LinkedIn is a great social channel for most B2B companies while Instagram and Snapchat tend to be popular with younger consumers.

It’s usually best to start off slowly with just one or two channels instead of trying to market on lots of different social platforms. This will keep you from getting overwhelmed and help you focus on the channels that are most likely to yield results for your business.

4. Post Content Consistently

Consistency is the key to growing a social media following and building engagement. Being consistent requires putting the right systems in place to keep posts organized, interesting and relevant to your audience. Online platforms like Edgar can help you manage your social content calendar and schedule posts consistently.

So what exactly is “consistent”? This will depend on your industry and your resources. In some B2C industries social content needs to be posted multiple times throughout the day, even if it’s just tweets. Less frequency is usually required in the B2B world where content quality usually trumps quantity.

5. Engage with Your Audience

A big benefit of social media marketing is the ability to interact with your customers and prospects in real time. In fact, most users expect the brands they follow to engage with them. This is the best way to build community with your brand.

One way to engage is to create polls and quizzes with questions that are relevant to your business or industry. Another is to live stream content via your social channels. Of course, you should like and respond promptly to any comments or questions posted by followers.

6. Measure Results and Make Adjustments

Like all forms of digital marketing, social media marketing is easily trackable and measurable. Most platforms offer tools to help businesses measure analytics and track results like Facebook Page Insights, Instagram Account Insights and LinkedIn Visitor Analytics. These reveal what kinds of social posts followers respond to and help uncover trends related to specific topics or keywords.

You can make adjustments to your strategy based on the results uncovered. For example, maybe you need to post more or less frequently. Maybe your content needs to be longer or shorter. Or maybe a particular channel isn’t delivering the results you were hoping for and it’s time to switch to a new platform.

7. Don’t Expect Immediate Results

Social media marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a long-term commitment to doing a lot of little things right — day after day, month after month and year after year. So don’t give up if you don’t see results right away. Instead, be prepared to play the long game.