Big companies such as Oreo and Red Bull have lately been lauded as social media heroes that have captured the imagination of their fans. Oreo’s delightful Instagram account has an astonishing 128,019 followers, while Red Bull’s Facebook account has a mind-boggling 42 million fans, and it continues to grow.

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In fact, in this day and age you’ll be hard-pressed to find a company that doesn’t use social media at all. Why is it, then, that some companies find themselves becoming social media rockstars, while others fall by the wayside, and eventually give up on social media altogether? In a word: strategy.

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While most marketing managers simply publish the occasional post or answer customer queries at random, those who are savvier understand the importance of having a long-haul engagement plan. As Dreamgrow very aptly puts it:

Very much like building a house you shouldn’t buy materials before you have the blueprints of what you want to build. Using social media means long term commitment… You have to be there for the long haul.

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Ready for social media success? Here are three things you absolutely need to do to create a solid long-term social media strategy:

1 Find out where your customers are, and what they like

Knowledge is power, and this could not be closer to the truth when it comes to marketing — know thy customer, and you will win all your battles (poorly paraphrased from Sun Tzu).

Do extensive research on your industry, competition, influencers, and relevant keywords. Where do they hang out? What topics interest them? Strive to locate your customers accordingly, and find out what they talk about. Once you have done so, you can confidently pump your resources into efforts to reach your customers where they are, and into conversations that they are invested in.

2 More is not necessarily better. Pick your social media platform wisely

Many businesses, having created accounts on multiple platforms, hit the ground running by rapidly building up their presence on every single social media platform there is, from Facebook to Instagram. Not surprisingly, many of these accounts will fall into misuse in a matter of months, or even weeks.

Generally speaking, B2C marketers tend to use Facebook (overwhelming so, at 89%) as their social media platform of choice, while B2B marketers are gradually shifting over to LinkedIn (where they have seen a 61% success rate as compared to other platforms).

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There are no hard and fast rules about this though – B2B companies such as Hubspot and Cvent have been using Facebook to great success, while B2C marketers in Starbucks and Nordstrom (to name a few) have likewise utilized LinkedIn effectively. At the end of the day, it is imperative to constantly track your efforts on each platform and adjust your focus accordingly.

3 Determine what objectives, and hence success metrics, you are looking to achieve through social media marketing

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The number of metrics out there that could indicate social media success would make a marketer’s head spin. Pageviews, click-throughs, likes, retweets, repins – the list goes on and on. It is therefore really important to determine what business objectives you hope to achieve through social media marketing, and hence decide which metrics define success.

For example, if you are looking to create brand awareness, you could use the number of mentions of your brand name online over a certain period of time to determine the success of your social media efforts.

Of course, this is only a rough approximation. You want to make your goals as concrete and measureable as possible by inserting numerical values wherever they are applicable.

You’re Not Alone

Social media marketers have so many things to keep track of on a daily basis, they practically have to live on the Web. To be sure, for each part of this strategy, it is important to be able to continually monitor and optimize the moving parts as you go along. To be able to do this consistently, though, it is critical to have tools that will help to automate some of the processes and help you out along the road to success.

Daniel is a writer based in the sunny island of Singapore. He mainly covers the tech scene in Singapore for Tech in Asia, but his byline can be found in a variety of publications and blogs. He is madly passionate about entrepreneurship, marketing, and productivity, and his home is at danieltay.me.