Understanding the fundamentals of social media marketing is the first step towards dipping a toe in the water. It may seem simple at first glance, but learning how to design an effective social strategy can be tricky in this evolving digital climate. Social media marketing isn’t an overnight success. It takes time and perseverance to build an audience and to keep them engaged.

1. Listen More, Talk Less
Success with social media and content marketing requires more listening and less talking. Read your target audience’s online content and join discussions to learn what’s important to them. Only then can you create content and spark conversations that add value rather than clutter to their lives.
Don’t post and then disappear. Be available to your followers and respond in a timely manner if they reach out to you. Social success is about participating in conversations. Followers can be fickle and if you aren’t present, they will move on quickly.

2. Stick to What You Know
A highly-focused social media and content marketing strategy intended to build a strong brand has a better chance for success than a broad strategy that is not focused and attempts to be all things to all people. It is also less expensive to target your audiences more narrowly, and invest in reaching them rather than everyone.

3. Search Engine-Friendly Content
You can never go wrong by producing high quality, readable content. This will help build an online audience of followers who care about what you are writing and posting. In turn, these quality followers will share your amazing content with their followers, thus building out a greater audience for your content. Every time someone shares your content, there is a better chance that search engines like Google to find it in keyword searches. Those entry points could explode into hundreds and thousands of new ways for people to potentially to find you online.

4. Friend Influencers
Identify the online influencers who are relevant to your geographical area and business, and who have quality audiences and are likely to be interested in your products, services and brand. Connect with those people and work to get on their radar as a source of useful information. Talk to them, share their content, retweet their tweets to get noticed. If they choose to share your content with their network, it can open a whole new audience for you.

5. Acknowledge Others 
You wouldn’t ignore someone who reaches out to you in person so don’t ignore them online. Building relationships is one of the most important parts of social media marketing success, so always acknowledge every person who reaches out to you. Similarly, you can’t expect others to share your content and talk about you if you don’t do the same for them. Some of the time spent in the social media landscape should be focused on sharing other users content too.

6. Quality Over Quantity
It is natural to want to see big numbers of fans and followers quickly. However, it doesn’t always happen quickly or at all. tIt’s better to have 1,000 online connections who read, share and talk about your content with their own audiences than 10,000 connections who disappear after connecting with you the first time.

7. It’s Not All About YOU
If you spend all your time on the social networks only promoting your specials and services, people will simply tune out. You must add value to the conversation. Focus less on conversions and more on creating amazing content and developing relationships with online influencers. In time, those people will become a powerful catalyst for word-of-mouth marketing for your business.