Creating a social media strategy can get complicated quickly.  Or worse, there isn’t a strategy at all.  With so many channels and tactics, something simple can get overwhelming.

A simple, daily process will provide a consistent strategy to meet your goals and deliver a  higher social media ROI.  Follow these 5 tips to develop a social media strategy for your small business.

Know your audience.

Figuring out your ideal audience and where they are having conversations  on social media is a critical first step in developing a healthy social media strategy.  Profiling your ideal customer will help tailor all your marketing messages to attract them at the right place and time.

By knowing more about your ideal customer, you can determine which social media channels to focus your time and resources on.  Each channel should have a clear purpose; whether it’s strengthening brand awareness, building your online community, or delivering great customer support.  If you’re scratching  your head on whether Facebook,Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, or Linkedin is right for your audience, here is a great resource from Wix that can help.  Social can also be an effective platform for selling to your ideal customers, just remember to put down the bullhorn and don’t push too hard or else you’ll end up with low engagement and a lot of unlikes.

Get SMART.

Once you know which channels to focus on and their purpose, you can set goals for each.  Setting SMART social media goals can be tricky. With so much data, it’s easy to fall into traps like counting followers or likes.  It’s exciting to get thousands of followers but with the declining trend in organic reach, that number doesn’t tell the whole story when you are trying to measure success on your social media efforts..

Goals will be dependent on each channel and it’s purpose… Think percentage increases because these are specific enough to measure progress but have the longevity a single number doesn’t.  You can measure the impact that social has on your website by looking at Google analytics and measuring increases in traffic and conversions linked to social channels.  For simple tips on how to track social media in Google check out this great resource from Social Media Examiner. Use can also use simple tools like Klout which measures your brand recognition and influence online, across multiple social media platforms.

Take it day by day.

Your process should be small steps each day that get you closer to your SMART goals. Whether it’s daily posts, retweets, or shares-keep it simple.  Stay focussed on getting people engaged by having a one-on-one conversation with them. .

Search your top keywords in the social media platform to find people who are already talking about things you’re interested in.   Ask open ended questions and provide genuine feedback to spark conversations.

Keep in mind, your process should be proactive- the list of activities you do on social media to increase engagement.  For instance, each day you should follow the same amount of new people, comment and share other people’s posts, etc.  This will help you get your name out there without relying on the unyielding broadcast approach.

Put it to the test.

Social media moves fast so you’ll want to look at your analytics at least once a week.  Luckily, it’s pretty easy to pull up your stats and notice the trends as each platform provides a wide range of metrics.

Having a documented process will make way for easier A|B testing.  Your process will serve as the foundation for you to  pull different levers to see what  impacts awareness, traffic or conversions the most. .  Once you know your sweet spot for posts and engagement, you’ll reach your goals easier and faster.

Keep at it!

The tough part about managing social media is accountability.  There are so many other things that pop up running a small business, pushing social media to the back burner… and that’s okay.  Just like missing a day at the gym. They key is to shake it off and and get focused on the next day.  If the process ends up being too much, pare it down to something you can manage or delegate tasks to other team members. Make it fun!

Any time you can document your strategy and process, you will become more consistent and have a better chance for success…  Managing expectations and delegating tasks become easier with a documented and tested social media process.