With 2 billion Facebook users it’s hard to ignore the strong social media presence around us. On top of facebook there are channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest and Instagram. Used correctly these channels can be a company’s greatest assets when building customer loyalty and relationships, as well as being a good form of advertising. However, most companies are ignoring how social media can impact their business, bad and good. PurposeThe first thing you need to do before you start anything is have a plan. This goes along with the concept of think before you speak. Starting on social media blind can be a very good way to destroy relationships and leads before you even get them. You must know the message you are trying to convey because if you don’t know what you are talking about how is your audience supposed to know what you are talking about. Another thing to be aware of in social media are shifting trends. For example companies are beginning to see change in how employees communicate in the workplace. Any change like when you have no strategy can be a quick way to lose direction. Purpose is the base of all effective social media campaigns and interactions. Customer AvatarAs soon as you figure out your strategy you need to figure out your audience. A common saying is you have to find customers to sell to them. This means focus on your demographic and don’t only find the best customers to sell to, but also on which platform will be most effective to your company. Whether it’s on your website or through email gain as much traction as possible to have a strong following to begin with. Knowing your customer avatar is crucial to success in social media. Lead GenerationNow it’s time to focus on your content and interaction. Begin with finding out what your customers are interested in. Nobody wants to read something they don’t care about. Also, stay relevant. Share current events, news, blogs, and articles you think your customer would appreciate. Next spark participation, polls, images, and videos are a good way to get interaction. Finally, participate and join the conversation. Don’t force your product or service on the customer, focus on good conversation and interaction with the customer, that in turn will make them take interest in your product or service. The reason this is so effective is because although it’s only a conversation with one person everyone can listen. At the end of the day the goal of good content is about driving traffic to your site, and getting people to want more information. That is why this such an important tool for lead gen. AnalyticsOnce you have the first three steps figured out it’s time to track the results and find out if what you are doing is really working. There are two ways to do this. Reading, which consists of paying attention to the good and bad people are saying on social media, responding to them, and taking into consideration what they have to say. The other way is analyzing, this means tracking actual things like web traffic, clicks, likes, and shares. Neither of these are simple, you must compile a large amount of data to see how you can improve your strategy, or if you need to rethink your strategy. SpendingA common misconception is that your ads are performing well and sales are coming, so you must be doing great! Actually, social media analytic tools only show you the clicks and sales, but do not consider refunds or chargebacks that could be costing you a ton of money. If you want to understand how the ads affect your bottom line, you can get a business audit that will reveal how your ads are truly performing. ABOUT THE AUTHORRachel Scava is a lawyer and the COO of Fully Accountable, an accounting, finance and human resources full-service and software solution for small businesses. She is passionate about helping businesses grow and hire the right people on their team, she speaks at events as a Culture Expert.