Social media is a requirement in the marketing world-businesses don’t get the option of ignoring it. A business without a social media presence today is written off as being disconnected from today’s consumers. That doesn’t mean business owners should do social media marketing simply because they’re supposed to.

Business owners should take the time to figure out the answers to some important questions first.

Social media and audience

The first step to creating a social media marketing strategy is to figure out who your audience is. Who is your perfect customer? What are their interests? What drives them? Knowing your audience allows you to tailor your social media strategy specifically for them. When you know what they care about and what they’re looking for, you can give it to them.

Platform-specific audience

Now that you know who your audience is, you need to figure out where they are—not geographically but where they are online. Different social media platforms are appealing to different demographics. For instance, Pinterest has far more female users than male users. Instagram is largely populated by teenagers and twenty-somethings while Facebook’s fastest growing demographic is the 65 and older. You may need to settle on a few different platforms in order to reach your target audience.

Identify marketing objectives in social

You can’t have a successful social media strategy without knowing why you’re doing it. This is the part where you come up with specific goals of what you are trying to accomplish with social media.

Every business wants to grow but how exactly do you want to do it. You might have a goal to acquire new customers or to establish more customer loyalty. There are many good reasons to do social media marketing; figure out yours.

Goals identified by SproutSocial.

Social media marketing plan

Now that you know who your audience is, where they are, and why you’re doing all of this, it’s time to come up with a plan.

Using your goals as your aim, you need to come up with a way to achieve your desired results. There are many different ways to do social media marketing but certain strategies will be more effective depending on your audience, your goals, and the social media platforms you’re using. Over time you will see what’s working and what’s isn’t and you can adjust your plan as needed.