Social media is one of the most popular means for consumers to connect, which is why businesses should do what they can to connect with existing and prospective customers through social media marketing. From Facebook to Instagram and newcomers like TikTok, there’s no shortage of social media outlets to take advantage of as a business. The following are some key steps to take if you want to succeed as a social media marketer.

1. Always Have a Plan in Place

If you want your business to succeed using social media, you won’t get anywhere if you don’t have a clear plan. Your digital marketing strategies should take social media into account, with realistic and clear-cut goals that you can reach.

Consider the different demographics you’re targeting and the corresponding social media that will help you connect with those demographics. For instance, if you want to connect with a female audience, Facebook is your best bet, as Media Bistro found that over 60 percent of Facebook users are female. If you want to connect with a teenage audience, consider becoming an influencer on TikTok.

If your audience connects with more informational resources, post on Facebook or LinkedIn. If your audience is visually stimulated, Pinterest might be the ideal channel.

Get to know your demographic and customer, then decide which platforms are best suited for your marketing strategies. From there, start looking at competitors and develop a plan to produce and post content. With a consistent schedule, you can more effectively reach your goals.

2. Focus on Creating High-Quality Content

When creating content, always focus on maintaining quality. The better your content, the more it will engage your audience and share it with others. In turn, quality content will have a positive impact on SEO.

High-quality content will be informative, shareable, relevant, and actionable. The key is standing apart as an original when it comes to your approach while establishing yourself as a knowledgeable authority in your industry.

Don’t be shy with experimentation. Toy around with different campaigns and keep the ones that work, while ditching or modifying the ones that don’t. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but instead learn from them to develop winning campaigns with quality content that users love.

3. Stay Active and Be Quick to Respond

Customers on social media will want the company behind the page to be equally social and active. In addition to email and chat support through your website, consider Twitter and other social media to be other forms of customer outreach and relations.

If people have questions or comments for you on these platforms, it’s important to be responsive and provide replies or answers when possible. The more you address certain issues or provide detailed answers around your products or services, the more customer loyalty you’ll draw. At the same time, people new to your brand will likely be more impressed if they see that you actively engage with your existing customer base.

On the other hand, try to avoid too much automation. While automation can be good in many ways, it may provide poor responses in some cases. People can tell when a bot is replying to their messages or comments, which will turn them away from you as they feel like you don’t truly care about engaging with your customer base. Try to stick with human-to-human relations and you’ll see the benefits of this active engagement.

4. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Images

You’ve probably heard the old saying about an image vs. 1,000 words, but the fact is when it comes to social media, this saying holds true. Harvard University found that around 70 percent of all Facebook activities are centered around images, and platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr are image-dedicated channels that reveal the influence that images can have.

The use of images can have a big impact on your marketing efforts, particularly if they’re appealing and memorable. Images that stick out on a person’s feed will get them to stop scrolling and actively engage with your brand. If the image is truly memorable, it can even serve as a tool for brand recognition when people come across it.

5. Know Which Metrics to Track and Measure

You can’t determine how well or poorly your campaigns are performing without looking at analytics data and the metrics that pertain to your goals. Some metrics you may want to keep an eye on in your social media campaigns could include the total number of shares across your profiles, click-through rates, conversion rates, and traffic drawn to your website from social media.  Understanding these metrics and how they reflect your campaign’s performance can help you figure out what’s working and what could benefit from more attention or reworking.

Integrating analytics data with other customer and marketing automation data can supercharge your insights and help laser focus where your marketing dollars should be spent.

Taking all of these steps in your social media marketing strategies can help you get the results you want. You’ll be able to make the most of these platforms and use them to help maximize outreach and brand recognition, all while working to provide prospective and existing customers with highly engaging content that keeps them coming back.