Using social media for your business can be fun, but it can be a lot of work. The first step is knowing why you are using it. From there, you develop your strategy so everything circles back to your “why.”

The question I received this week was from someone who was just hired to by a jewelry start-up to handle their social media. Their question was:

How do I build a social media strategy?

Social media has become an integral part of today’s marketing landscape. It is something all businesses need to take part in or they will be the odd man out and who really wants that?

Once you’ve decided that you want your business to have a social media presence, you have to figure out how to best use it to your advantage. That is where a social media strategy comes in. Some businesses choose to hire a social media manager to handle it, however many businesses want to do it themselves. Either way, here are some things to consider when you set up a social media strategy for your business.

1. Who

Think about who your ideal client is. Who is your most popular type of customers – moms, businessmen, college students? Figuring out who your audience is, is the first step.

2. Where

Take a hard look at that target audience. Are they stay-at-home moms who spend a lot of time on Facebook? Are they business professionals who are on LinkedIn a lot? Once you decide where your audience is, that is the platform you should start with. If you find they are on more than one platform, start with the strongest and then add in the second one. There is no sense is being active on every single social media platform if your target market/audience is only on one or two. You do not want to spread yourself thin. I suggest concentrating on doing one or two platforms and doing them well.

Side note: If you are targeting teens, you may want to give Instagram and SnapChat a good look – this is where they are going.

3. Define

Ask yourself what do you want to get out of your social marketing efforts – sales? Brand advocates? Increased engagement & relationship building? How you use your social media will really come from this. If you want to increase sales, for example, you would want to take advantage of Facebook offers or holding a contest. If you want to increase engagement, you would want to post questions and images that will generate a response. Your goal is like your compass. Everything you do should point you to that goal.

4. Develop

Now that you have your audience identified, your platforms picked and your goal set, now you have decide what you are going to do to get to that goal. This step goes hand-in-hand with step 3. Often these are done at the same time. You definitely want to be active and post at least 2-3 times per day. Contests, tips, question & answer sessions and sharing information are all types of content that will help you achieve your goal. You need to ask yourself – how many times am I going to post? How much time do I/can I invest in this?

5. Put It On Paper

This is where all of the previous steps work into a formidable plan. Take all the ideas you have had and write them down. Decide on a content (posting) schedule. Do you want to post 2 times per day or 3 or more? When do you want to post? Are you going to run a contest? If so, when? For how long? Are you going to run ads to help with your Facebook page visibility?

I see this step as laying out the road map for your social media marketing efforts. Having a written (or typed) out plan will help you achieve your goal(s). Pin it up somewhere you will see it and act on it. There’s nothing worse than putting time and energy into a plan and not acting on it.

How else would you go about creating your social media strategy?

This article was written by Mandy Edwards from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.