For the launch of my latest book, Social Media Success for Every Brand: The Five Pillars that Turn Posts into Profits, I had my publisher throw a bunch of spaghetti on my face. Surprisingly, there was a method to my madness.

After recording it, we turned the social media moment into an advertisement for the book which was then shared on social media and got folks to buy my new book. The reason that throwing around perfectly good pasta drove book sales? It has everything to do with my five step model for success on social media. (And a tiny little bit to do with people's love of pasta.)

1.Tell a clear story. 

Content is queen, and the content for effective social media marketing comes from a clear brand story. Once you figure out what your clear story is, then it's time to actually go about telling it on social media.

Think of your social media account like a bank account. The cardinal rule of bank accounts? Deposit more than you withdraw. On social media, that means you want to follow the 80-20 rule. Make sure to always spend 80 percent of your time depositing value in the form of the original or curated content you share, like articles, quotations, statistics, testimonials, direct calls to action, transitional calls to action, impactful images, selfies, videos, etc. Then, 20 percent of the time call your social media followers to action by asking them to sign up for your newsletter, buy your product, or tell a friend about your awesomeness.

2. Be smart about which platform you post on.

The most important thing you need to know when it comes to how to post on social media is which platform to focus on. Not all platforms work for all brands, and one of the biggest mistakes people make is to spend all their time on a platform that simply doesn't work for their audience or customers.

Once you know what your priority social media platform is, then it's time to create a social media schedule and social media editorial calendar that works for your audience and your brand's bandwidth.

3. Make sure your social media marketing is about your audience, not your brand.

Your brand is not your hero, your customer is. That means that your customer (or potential customer) is your follower. Reframe your social media account to make it about them.

One great way to do that is by generating empathy, and thus engagement. My favorite tips to do so? Help someone out on social media or ask a question. And remember, don't post and ghost; great social media marketing requires real-time connection and engagement with your audience.

4.To amplify your brand, expand your reach.

It doesn't matter how many times Facebook changes its algorithm, one thing will always be true: Social media companies will always reward engaged accounts with greater reach. That means that your goal should always be to focus on engaging with your existing social media tribe in order to expand the ultimate reach of your posts, and not on chasing new followers with the latest social media trick.

Here are a few ways to do this. First, craft a killer social media profile that increases your authority. Next, remember that great hashtags can put great content on steroids. When crafting a hashtag, be as general as you can without using a term people already associate with something else. Finally, remember that influencer marketing, when used wisely, can posts go further.

5. Fine-tune your social media marketing efforts to reach long-term excellence.

The real-time nature of social media means that you never know what's going to happen. Make that a good thing and learn to roll with the social media punches. If your brand makes a social media mistake, own up to it. Fast.

In terms of low hanging fruit, remember that social media gives your customers a public place to share their grievances, and sometimes they will do just that. If the comments aren't offensive, let the dialogue take place, and don't delete the negative content. Then, try to turn a negative conversation into a positive one.

And what happens if things get really bad? Take a cue from the American Red Cross, who managed to mistakenly send out a drunken tweet, and yet by handling the situation with grace, humor, and transparency, to actually raise donations in the process.

Ultimately, social media is the most ubiquitous, and least expensive marketing tool your brand has, and learning to use it well to drive sales is one of the best uses of your marketing time. Don't waste time throwing spaghetti media marketing spaghetti around with abandon, however. Get a plan for social media success.

Published on: Dec 9, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.