More than 70% of consumers on social media who have a good experience with brands will recommend them to others.

Such word of mouth is the most trusted kind of endorsement.

So it makes sense for your business to adopt a social media strategy that not only promotes your goods and services, but also compels your customers to feel they can trust, refer and remain loyal to your “brand.”

Social media lets your business connect with your customers in ways that used to be time- and cost-prohibitive. A social media strategy is pivotal to success in today’s digital culture. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as creating a profile and posting funny photos – it takes planning and constant effort.

Know your audience

Who exactly are your customers? Who are those you hope to have?

Don’t enter social media’s digital conversation without understanding the people with whom you’ll address. Your subjects should appeal to both your current audience and those you want to add. When you cater your messages:

  • Build your base. Don’t make your specific audience your sole objective
  • Be expansive. Don’t focus solely on your ideal customer
  • Don’t sound condescending to newcomers by being too narrowly focused

Set specific goals

Craft your social media strategy to meet your objectives. Set clear, measurable goals. For example, 5,000 followers by 2020, or an increase of 70% in post reaches within three months. Tailor all your planning, actions and responses to meet that goal.

Assign social media responsibilities with your objectives and related deadlines in mind. For example, according to Sprout, the best day to reach the most Instagram users is to post on Thursdays. Whoever you assign to social media posts should research the best times and days for your objectives, and then post accordingly.

Pick your channels

Where online are your customers? Select your social media channels based on your target markets. Consider these recommendations from Spredfast:

  • Teens are on Snapchat and Instagram
  • Millennials use Facebook and Instagram
  • A male audience is best found on YouTube
  • Generation X is most likely to share Facebook content

The popularity of specific social media platforms ebbs and flows. That can happen quickly for specific market segments. Stay on top of such trends so you don’t lose touch with your audience and potential customers.

Interact with audience

Social media is a conversation, not a monologue. Frequently check your pages to post and respond quickly to reviews, messages or questions.

Remember, everyone watches, so if someone posts a negative review of your business and you don’t respond, they’ll assume you just don’t care. And they may decide not to, either.

Make content engaging

Effective content for social media is a specialized form of writing. It should be done by professionals who understand and practice it, or at least by people willing to learn the best practices of social media content creation.

To be a savvy, effective content creator for social media takes research and effort. But it’s worth it. Engaging content will build your audience and, potentially, increase your customer base.

Check competitors

What do your competitors post? More importantly, which of their posts prompt engagement from followers? While you won’t duplicate this content, you certainly can emulate it.

Take note of what’s successful and not on your competitors’ social media platforms. Take this data as lessons learned, with no “thank you” required.

Follow rules

Each social media platform has rules you must follow or risk your account could be suspended or deleted. Review the rules to assure your account never encounters disciplinary action.

For example, Facebook has contest regulations that change frequently. Twitter asks all promotional contest tweets include a note to discourage entrants from creating multiple profiles just to qualify.

React quickly

Social media as a form of advertising and customer outreach is still fairly new. It evolves constantly. Your social media strategy must include periodic reviews of how things go and what’s needed to improve your side of the “conversation.”

You may need to frequently adjust your strategy as new trends arise and old trends fade. Don’t be afraid to try bold, new strategies to broaden your social media reach.