Increased exposure and traffic are the top two benefits of social media promotion cited by marketers in the 2017 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. To gain those advantages, and more, for your business, consider incorporating these elements into your social media promotion strategy:

Engagement is key.

You want your followers to comment, like, and share your posts on social media. When they do that, it increases exposure to your content by getting more people to look at it. "Make sure you generate content that is appealing to the masses and makes people want to share it with their friends," says Justin Sochovka, a principal in Psyched Media Marketing. Asking questions in a creative manner, holding contests and connecting with social causes can be effective strategies for increasing engagement with your content. Polls and how-to videos are also popular.

Balance promotion with value-add.

No more than one out of every six or seven posts should be overtly promotional. The rest should focus on sharing content that is authentic and genuinely useful to your followers. It's okay to "soft-promote" your business in those other posts, as long as it's subtle and relevant to the value-added content being shared, for example, offering advice on how to use a product most effectively or economically.

Think video, video, video.

The average user spends more than twice as much time on a website with video than one without, and two-thirds prefer videos of less than 60 seconds--perfect for social media! "It's the best way to organically generate buzz," Sochovka says. Spend some money on a good camera to maximize the video's strong points: attention, emotion, perceived value, and clarity. After creating a video, host it on your own site first, then post to social media channels.

Set up complete profiles.

Seems obvious, but Chris Stocker, CEO of CSI Marketing Solutions, says it's amazing how many small businesses neglect to do this. Important information that is often omitted includes email address, street address, business hours and relevant images, he says. "Be as thorough as possible. This may be the first impression many people have of your business-;and maybe their last."

Be prepared for negative feedback.

Murphy's Law is real. Occasionally, things go wrong. It's okay to pre-craft responses to your most common questions and complaints, so you can respond quickly when they crop up. But make sure to personalize your responses, as well. People want a quick response on social media, but they also want to feel they are being heard.

Use ads strategically.

Advertising to those who have already been on your website can be an effective and economical way to promote your business through social media. For the best results, use remarketing tags, which are free to install and use on Google, Facebook and LinkedIn. Tags are short snippets of code that add your website visitors to your remarketing lists, making it easy to target them.

There's no one-size-fits-all solution for creating a social media promotion plan, but according to the 2017 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, all plans should address five key points: choosing the most-effective tactics, maximizing engagement, measuring ROI, optimizing use of paid social media and targeting the right audience. Set clear objectives for what you want to achieve with social, and use these guidelines to formulate a plan and optimize it as needed.

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