Think for a moment; can you ignore social media in today’s marketing? Of course not. Nobody can afford to lose a borderless market that is bigger than China and India combined.

Owing to the same, companies are enthusiastically investing resources in social media marketing. In fact, social media is no more about branding or reputation only, the number of companies using it for business development has increased significantly. In 2015, 63% of the US companies were using social networks for lead generation and the percentage is expected to cross 90 percent by 2018.

However, there is another side of the story as well. Not every business is happy with the ROI offered by social networks.

According to a digital media survey, the brand’s (average) engagement rate on different social networks is very disturbing. It’s 0.007% on Facebook, 0.003% on Twitter, and 4.21% on Instagram.

Since ‘engagement’ is the prime objective of social media marketing, such lackluster response should be a big concern for marketers. However, changes to the algorithms and soaring usage of big data for social media marketing essentially means that marketers will have found out new and innovative ways to market their business as the organic reach of their posts will shrink with every passing day.

This article is aimed at helping you set the right tone for your social media marketing in 2018, and help you be more effective at engagement.

1. Set SMART Goals:

The starting point of any campaign should be your goals. Most of the digital marketers fail to determine their channel-specific goals and the vast majority wants to achieve “a set of goals” by single investments, which leads to failure. You should not plan to achieve leads, traffic, engagement, likes, shares, and follows from a single campaign; otherwise, the metrics will be too annoying.

If you set SMART goals, and clearly run a campaign against a particular one, success is a sure result. 92% of marketers believe that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses whereas 84% think it has directly impacted their web traffic. Therefore, you should set a clear goal of your campaign – say clicks or leads – and calculate results for the same.

2. Avoid Verbosity

They say: brevity is the soul of wit. Twitter’s popularity lies in its brevity and 140 character’s limitation. A study suggests that Facebook posts with less than 250 characters get 60 percent more engagement than the longer ones. Similarly, Tweets with 110 or fewer characters get 17% more engagement.

What does that mean?

In 2018, the scarcest of all resources is ‘time’. People do not have time to read your articles; they want brief, to-the-point, and striking content. If you have an idea for longer posts, don’t put in status; instead, go for a blog or LinkedIn Pulse.

3. Invest in Creative Contents

One key success principle for social media success is to have a good content mix. A balanced content mix ensures that people do not get bored of your similar posts. In this regards, it is a very good idea to make a content calendar with a focus on designing a decent content mix.

Never ignore the power of visual content. According to Social Media Examiner Study, 61% of marketers plan to increase their usage of live video, and 69 percent of them are eager to explore videos and creative contents. In 2017, the number of marketing professionals including live video into their marketing strategy increased by 14 percent – and the trend is expected growth further.

Also, never ignore the power of decent and branded images as tweets with images receive 150% more retweets. Brand’s engagement rate on Instagram is highest: 4.21 percent and the reason is visual content.

4. Brace for Algorithmic Changes

Facebook has recently changed their algorithms and marketers should be worried about it. As a result, the organic reach of the pages will go further down. This simply means: there are no more free lunches (read exposure) anymore. Even in the advertisement domain, the platforms will be very strict now on. Following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, social networks are under pressure to ensure their platforms are safe and not prone to misuse by advertisers.

While this tighter scrutiny will be there at least for the near future, we advise marketers to be creative, in order to be discovered. In the face of barriers discussed, the best way to get exposure on social media is creating and sharing high-quality and personalized content that is relevant to your audience.

5. Never Ignore Ethics

Ethical principles should be your guiding principle. One of the reasons why people leave paying attention to your calls is ‘alleged deception’. A key element of social media marketing is being honest with your audience. In a previous post, I had explained 7 fundamental ethics of social media marketing, which every marketer should keep in sight.

If your focus is on the long-term relationship, make sure you don’t deceive your audience in any way. Be professional while responding to negative comments and critical feedback; they play a vital role in improvement.

Finally, when you are planning for social media marketing in 2018, make sure to document your strategy. A documented strategy with key stats, KPIs, content calendar and guidelines leads to good results. We hope the listed suggestions help you improve social ROI and attract the desired exposure.

Read More: Scenario Planning -Key to Social Media Marketing