After years of using “fuzzy math” to calculate the value of social media marketing, marketers are being tasked with generating and showing true ROI. But the truth is, ROI isn’t always just about revenue.

Depending on brand objectives, social media ROI could mean everything from awareness and social engagement to visitors to the company website from social media platforms.

If you really want to make social media marketing a major part of an integrated and omnichannel digital marketing strategy1, use the tips below to lead your way.

Know What You Want to Accomplish

Without a clear strategy in place, tools won’t make any difference to you. @IanCleary

Set goals. As with any digital marketing tactic, knowing what you want to accomplish before you start will help guide your way.

Document your strategy. Taking the effort to document your approach will help you weed out useless activities that will not impact your goals.

Understand when to adapt. Social media platforms quickly evolve. And as the algorithms and user behaviors change, so should your approach.

Focus on Building Real Connections

Social media is not just a business experience, it’s an emotional experience. @MariSmith

Take an interest. In order to connect with your audience, you have to understand who they are. Take an interest in who they are, what they care about and who influences them.

Encourage interactions. Strive to entice your social media audience to interact with your brand and with each other. The more conversation that happens back and forth, the more connected they’ll feel. Also, many platforms allow for polls, voting and other opportunities for interactivity. Test on your audience and see which ones they respond to.

Speak human. All too often, brands take on a much too formal tone for social media. And while you want to maintain your brand identity, social media followers expect you to lighten the tone.

Be responsive. Social media has created an always-on opportunity, and expectation. If you don’t have a large team that can monitor interactions 24/7, be as responsive as is reasonable for your team.

Arm Yourself with the Right Tools

Content is fire, social media is gasoline. @JayBaer

Monitoring tools. Many tools exist on the market today that can measure brand mentions, sentiment and more which can help you identify areas of success and opportunity.

Scheduling tools. While what you post is most important, knowing when to post can also have a great impact. Find tools that have an auto-publish feature that is based on the most optimal times to publish social content.

Curation tools. Proper content creation is an essential part of any social media marketing program. Curated content allows you to offer valuable content to your audience without only serving up your own information.

All-in-one tools. Many paid tools on the market can help you accomplish all of the items above (and so much more) for a reasonable monthly fee. If you’re looking for a new tool, see if there are free trials available so you can try before you buy.

General Tips & Best Practices

Social media replaces nothing, but compliments everything. @NealSchaffer

Consider giving live video a shot. It can be intimidating, but consider opening up and testing live video. Interviews are a great place to start because they don’t require scripting or as much practice to create interesting videos.

Embed videos natively. When you shoot videos to use in your marketing and are ready to promote, upload videos natively to social media marketing platforms. That will encourage more engagement (due to autoplay) in a format that doesn’t require your audience to click or leave the platform to interact.

Use visuals. Social media marketing messages that include visuals are much more likely to catch and keep the attention of your audience.

Understand where paid social fits in. As it becomes increasingly competitive to gain the attention of your online audience, social media platforms are requiring more and more that brands invest in paid social. Don’t fight it but be mindful of where you invest.

What Next?

While some of these tips may not be new, it’s good to remind yourself why you’re incorporating social media into your digital marketing strategy and some simple tips to keep you on track.

If you’re a social media marketer, what have you found to be the most successful and least successful ways to reach your goals?

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