Since its inception in the early 2000s, social media has played an increasing role in marketing and communications. In 2014, companies spent $8.5 billion on social media marketing, and experts expect that number to nearly double to $14 billion by 2018.

From a B2C standpoint, the importance of social media is easy to see. Consumers use social media platforms to communicate with peers on a regular basis. By using social media as a means of engaging with customers and potential consumers, companies can enhance their brand. For example, Pizza Hut humanizes its brand by utilizing its Twitter account to retweet users and post jokes.

For B2B companies, the benefits are not always as clear. However, social media is a great way to share useful or interesting content and increase traffic to your website from new business prospects. Maersk Line, a global shipping container business, uses LinkedIn to lead discussions with shipping experts on industry-specific issues, such as piracy and other current trends.

There are a variety of reasons why businesses use social media. To be effective, all require having a strategic plan in place, with the ultimate goal of increasing sales and positively impacting the bottom line. Whether you’re a B2C company marketing to males ages 18-34 or a B2B company looking to position itself as a thought leader, developing a social media strategy is critical to your success.

Five Ways to Build a Better Social Media Strategy

1. Set Measurable Objectives and Goals
What are you trying to accomplish? Every social media strategy needs an established set of measurable objectives and goals. Without them, there is no way to define what you’re trying to accomplish or to measure your success. Goals should align with the broader marketing strategy so that all social media efforts drive toward your overall business objectives.

2. Choose Appropriate Social Media Channels
Who are you trying to reach? Who is your competition? Conduct research on the different types of social media channels available to help you make an educated decision on which social networks best fit your marketing strategy. Regardless of the channels you choose to concentrate on, it’s important to monitor all platforms. This enables you to see what customers and competitors are saying about you. A few of the aggregating tools that can help with this include HootSuite, TweetDeck, Radian6 and Socialite.

3. Develop a Distinct Brand Voice and Tone
Finding a distinct voice and tone for your social media channels can be difficult. These elements are not quantifiable or tangible. However, they are important to incorporate when developing your social media strategy. Voice is your company’s brand identity and personality, while tone adds character to your voice based on your target audience and the specific social media channel you’re using. For example, a company might have a more casual tone on a platform like Twitter, but remain very professional on LinkedIn. When filling out your profiles for social media, be sure to tie in your brand’s voice and tone. People tend to do business with others they feel comfortable with, so it’s important to show off your company’s personality.

4. Engage With Your Target Audience
It’s important to regularly engage with your audience by sharing useful or interesting content that resonates with your target audience. Make sure the content is unique and not readily available. For example, write about a solution to an issue frequently faced by those within your industry and then share it with your followers via social media. Information that your audience finds valuable can go a long way in achieving your social media goals.

5. Gauge Your Results
Measuring the success of your social media efforts is essential to your success. Gauging your results will enable you to see what’s working and what is not. Much can be learned from quantitative metrics, such as how many shares, comments or likes your posts receive or the number of followers you gain each week. Qualitative metrics are equally important. For example, monitoring customer feedback, whether positive or negative, will help provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of your business strategy. These results can also be used to compare your company’s performance against that of competitors.

To find out more about how your company can build a social media strategy that will generate results, contact Roop & Co. at (216) 902-3800 or info@roopco.com.