When you decide to give your brand a presence on social, you’re basically embarking on launching a global business. Before getting started, you need a plan.

Knowing where to initially invest your efforts can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Taking a “social media for beginners” approach isn’t a bad way to look at tackling your strategy. Get your business off on the right foot by answering six simple questions that will help guide and build your brand’s longterm social media marketing efforts.

Who Is Your Audience?

Think about who would be your ideal client. Who is your most popular customer? Does your brand cater to mothers, businessmen or college students? Figuring out your exact audience or what new demographic you want to target on social is the first step to building a sustainable strategy.

Where Do They Spend Their Time?

Take a hard look at your target audience. What are their social habits and behaviors? Are they millennial moms who over index on Facebook? Or are they business professionals who use LinkedIn to share and publish industry related content?

Don’t make the mistake of being on a specific network just for the sake of being present. This approach will spread your resources thin and in the eyes of your consumers, seem forced and inauthentic. Start by launching on the social platform that resonates most with your current or intended audience. As you start to grow and maintain this social community, then you can invest in additional networks.

What Is Your Goal?

Now that you’ve identified your audience and have determined the social network you’re going to invest in, it’s time to define your goal. Ask yourself what you want to gain from your social marketing efforts. Do you want to increase sales, generate leads or identify brand advocates?

Your goal will determine the social content you decide to create and distribute. If you want to increase sales, you might want to take advantage of Facebook ads or hold a Facebook contest. But, if you want to increase engagement and identify brand advocates, you’ll want to publish photos and questions that generate a response. Your goal is your compass and everything you do should point back to it.

How Do You Plan on Getting There?

Now that you have your audience identified, your platform solidified and your goal set, you need to decide how you’re going to sustain your social profiles and reach your business objective. Regardless of which network you’re investing in, you want to be active and post daily. You should still be realistic in your efforts and ask yourself how much time you can invest in social.

What Is the Best Way to Organize & Document Your Strategy?

This is where all of the previous steps come together to create a formidable plan. Take the answers and ideas from the previous questions, write them down and organize them into an actionable social media strategy. Having a tangible, step-by-step guide will help you achieve your goals and keep your strategy top of mind.

Once you have your social strategy solidified, it’s time to grow your community. Sure, there are paid ways to do this, but building your community organically is a more effective and often leads to more engaged and loyal fans.

How Can You Organically Grow Your Social Community?

Organic reach isn’t dead but, with 4.75 billion items being shared on Facebook and 500 million Tweets sent per day, it’s important that your brand finds a variety of ways to reach and captivate its audience. Here are a few ways that you can start to organically build your new social community.

  • Email Newsletters: Encourage customers to sign up in store or via your website. In each email newsletter, include links to your brand’s social content. Also, make sure to include prompts in your email that clearly communicate where consumers can find you on social.
  • Engage in Conversation: There are many businesses that are great at attracting new customers with well written content but fail to convert them into your alpha audience. Once a question is posed or statement is advertised on social, you need to follow up, respond and engage with your followers.
  • Offer Exclusive Deals: Everyone loves a good discount! Offering deals is a great way to market your business while also rewarding loyal customers. Promote your offers on social media and your company’s website.
  • Hold a Contest: There are many contest options you can run on Facebook or Instagram, just make sure to read all the rules for each platform first.

Before launching a social presence for your business, one thing you need to remember and take into consideration is the fact that, social is a longterm investment. So often businesses will start and simply give up. If you find it’s too much of a task, try designating someone in-house to handle your social media management or outsource your efforts to a local agency. There’s a lot that goes into creating a social presence for your brand. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources out there that can help. Are you ready to get started?