The rise of social media in the last decade and a half has created an unexpected new opportunity for marketers. Social media marketing is so prevalent and so effective that it has become many companies’ primary advertising channel. But like any other component in a media mix, it is only effective if it is supported by a thoughtful strategy and adequate resources. Many businesses make the mistake of creating accounts on every platform and either posting the same content everywhere or ignoring some of the channels. There is a better way to approach this, and here are some tips to help you do that.

Take an Objective Inventory of Your Social Presence

Whenever you start an advertising campaign, the first step in your strategy must be to evaluate what you have done in the past, and what you are doing currently. Look at the data that correlates with your social media marketing efforts, and see what has worked well, and what has maybe not worked as well as you would like. Your need to look at which platforms have attracted followers and engagement, and which have not. Then, you need to track and measure what you have done to help build your audience.

Focus on the Most Relevant Platforms

It’s tempting to say that the best strategy is a to cast a wide net that encompasses every available traditional and digital channel. That may be true in a perfect world with a massive staff and budget that ends in a lot of zeroes. But most companies have limited resources and need to be targeted with their approach. To that end, it’s important to focus your social media marketing on spaces that your target demos use. For example, if you are primarily a business-to-business outlet, LinkedIn would likely be a good choice of platforms to focus on. If, however, to are a direct-to-consumer art supply company, you would be better served to buy Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Create a Calendar

Whether you are a one-person operation or a team leader overseeing a dozen employees, it’s critical to build a social media marketing calendar. The level of detail you need is entirely up to you, but the goal should be to deploy platform-specific content an effective number of times on a daily or weekly basis. Do your homework and see what works best for your platforms of choice, and schedule accordingly.

Social media has revolutionized advertising. If you utilize it smartly, it can deliver massive results. These tips will help you create a plan to make it all happen.