Without fail, there are a small handful of topics that come up in conversation with every one of my clients. Social media success is at the top of the list. We’re all looking for results, and we don’t want to waste a bunch of time and money to get them.

There’s so much conflicting advice out there that it’s hard to know where to start or what to do. The truth is that there is no one right way to manage your marketing for social media success. So much of your success depends on your goals and your audience.

But, there are a few things that set the amateurs apart from the pros who are doing it right. Read on to learn more about how you can improve the odds that you’ll see results.

Essential Steps Pros Use for Social Media Success

Really get to know your customer

This includes not just demographics (characteristics like age, gender, occupation, education, race, ethnicity, and annual income) but also psychographics (attitudes, values, opinions, and tastes like someone who enjoys travel, is religious, loves animals, and supports public radio). Your social media posts will resonate because your prospects will feel like you’re writing to them.

Master your marketing funnel

Once in a while, you’ll get lucky, and someone will see a post and call or click to buy. But, most of the time, you have to intentionally engage prospects and create trust. It’s important to understand the marketing funnel. This concept is an analogy that explains the order in which prospects become customers. First becoming aware that you exist, then finding out enough about your products or services to compare you to other solutions, and then finally buying. Strategically speaking, your social media posts should move prospects through this process.

Plan your message

Many of my clients (or their contractors or employees) are flying by the seats of their pants. They are making up their social media posts as they go. Sometimes you’ll have something fun coming up, like a staff birthday, or a lovely thank you gift that you want to post spontaneously – that’s great. But, 99% of your social media content can and should be planned in advance so that you never miss an observance, a special offer, or promoting an event. Also, if someone else posts for you, you’ll have the opportunity to review posts before they’re published, which helps to eliminate typos or posts that feel “off-brand.” Check out this podcast interview I did with Tricia Arce, owner of Toasted Mallow to hear about how she’s built a successful social media presence on her own for inspiration.

Content Management

This is important. You should have a system for developing social media posts and a file-naming system that helps you to manage file versions as you make edits. And, pros archive content – you never know when you’ll want to revisit or reuse content – be sure to save text, stock photos, images, and other graphics.

Measure Results

Reporting is so much more than ‘what’s working’ and ‘what’s not,’ but it’s an excellent place to start. Be sure to regularly track and evaluate your social media reporting, and use third-party tools if you’re not sure what to look for. For example, determine which posts are getting the highest engagement (this is when followers take action, like reacting, comment, clicking on, or sharing your post). Also, look at posts that have the best reach (the number of people who see the post). You’ll want to create more of these kinds of posts. If posts are underperforming, troubleshoot the reason. Unattractive (or lack of) graphics and more than one call-to-action are just a couple of the reasons your posts may not be getting attention.