Social media offers a powerful way to create exposure for your brand and to increase customer engagement, but it doesn’t always generate a lot of sales.

In fact, recent reports show that many businesses have actually experienced a decline in sales from social media.

But that doesn’t mean that you should give up on social media marketing. These channels still play a significant role in promoting your business and helping you reach customers. You just need to be smarter about your marketing so that you get better results from social media.

Here’s how you can start making the most of social media:

Set Advanced Filters for Facebook Ads

The more specific you are with your ad targeting, the more successful those ads will be.

Facebook allows you to choose the type of people to whom it will show the ads, including basics like age, gender, location, and marital status. However, you need to go beyond the basics to reach the customers who will be the most interested in your products and the most likely to buy.

Drill down to be as specific as you can. For example, if you are selling running shoes, look for people who have listed running as an interest, who like running pages or groups, who use running apps, and more.

The more specific you can be, the more successful your ads are likely to be at converting.

Focus on Retargeting

Retargeting is a highly effective advertising strategy because it gives people who have already looked at your site the extra nudge they need to buy.

Retargeted ads rely on cookies to see where visitors have been. After leaving your site, visitors are shown an ad for a product or page they looked at again at a time that seems right.

You’ve probably been subject to retargeting yourself. You look at an item on ebay, and a day later, you see a Facebook ad showing you that same item.

These ads are highly effective because they are showing users items known to be of interest. More advertisers are allocating a greater share of their budgets to retargeted ads as the benefits are becoming more well-known.

Conduct A/B Testing

With any advertising strategy, you need to conduct A/B testing to ensure that you are getting the results you need. Conducting this testing is even more important on social media since the results can be inconsistent.

A/B testing takes time. You will need to create ad sets that change only a single element. For example, you may change a single word in the headline, such as “amazing” to “influential” or “proven.” You would then track the performance of each of the ads to determine which version was more effective.

You will need to keep changing these elements one by one until you are getting the results you want from your ads.

Encourage Customer Sharing

Make your customers your ambassadors by encouraging them to share information about your brand or products.

One of the best ways to do this is to host a contest that asks customers to share your page or one of your product pages as a way to enter the contest. Rafflecopter is a popular tool for managing entries, and it gives you options for outlining what people have to do to enter and how many points they get for each action.

Offer a really attractive prize, and provide as many options for entry as possible, such as following you on each of your social networks (an entry for each follow), sharing the contest or your page on each of those networks, signing up for your email list, leaving a comment on your blog, and so on. The better the prize and the more options for signup, the more engagement you will get.

Follow up on the buzz your contest generates by connecting with new followers with great content and highly targeted ads.

Drive Email Signups

You may not make a direct sale from your social networks, but you can use that presence to drive signups for your email list, which gives you more opportunities for direct sales.

Encourage your social media followers to sign up for your email list by creating a tab or link on your profile and referring to it regularly. Offer incentives for signing up, such as a discount on a product or an entry in a contest.

The more email signups you can get, the larger your lead list will be and the more effective your next product campaign will be.

You don’t have to be generating a lot of direct sales from your social networks for your presence there to be effective. Creating that brand awareness and customer engagement is essential. However, you can also follow these tips to get more direct sales from your social networks and more return on your advertising investment.