With 64% of marketers planning to increase their social media spend in 2012, but 80% of companies still struggling to attribute even half of their social media marketing spend to a measurable ROI, there is clearly some work still to be done.

social media ROI
This study shows that companies are struggling to attribute even their social media marketing spend to a measurable ROI.

It’s not rocket science, but it can be difficult to make the connection sometimes between social media and your business goals, which is where this blog post comes in to play. Here are some steps which, in my experience, need to be followed to provide any business with social media success.

Set your objectives

Without objectives, it’s impossible to know what success looks like, yet many companies jump into social media marketing without considering the goals they want to achieve.

From time to time, take a step back and re-evaluate why – and how – you want social media to work for you. Do you want to grow brand awareness? Or maybe increase leads? It’s an environment in constant flux, and no doubt your objectives will change as a result.

Choose your channel

There are a lot of social networks to make use of, and you may want to try a little bit of everything, but this is where many fail. Choose one or two social channels right for your business and give them your full attention.

New networks are popping up all the time but before diving in, consider whether it could really help you reach your business goals.

Engage first, sell second

Using social media solely for advertising is not going to benefit your brand in the long run. First, you must engage your community, provide value and gain their trust. Only then will they be receptive to helping you achieve your business goals.

Never stop testing

Social media success is different for everyone, so it’s important to find what works for you. Whether it’s testing the timing of your Facebook posts, the language of your tweets or the landing pages which convert, this needs to be an important part of your strategy.

If you’re not testing, you’re stagnating.

Measure and monitor

By monitoring your efforts, you’ll be able to see what works, what doesn’t, and how you can drive future success. It’s a good idea to monitor both Key Performance Indicators (such as Facebook engagement, retweets, and fan count) as well as how social media is contributing to your business ROI (this could be website traffic, leads or sales).

Overall, we understand that for some business owners it’s not always easy to determine the right channels or the connections to build, but creating a strategy and following a plan can help improve your chances of success.