Social media continues to grow, making it one of the best ways for a variety of brands to reach their target audiences.

Yet just being on social media isn’t enough. You need to have a carefully crafted strategy in order to meet your goals. And, of course, you actually need to have goals.

A lot of brands just jump on social media and hope for the best. They have some vague notion of getting more followers, which they think should lead to more traffic and sales. But they never create a targeted strategy, and they never define measurable goals.

Once you have your strategy and goals in place, you may think that you’re golden. But you still need to monitor your results to make sure that you are on track. Here are some rules for monitoring your social media channels:

Assign Responsibility

When the whole department is responsible for monitoring social media, no one tends to take the job very seriously. The effective result is that no one is really monitoring your channels.

You need to assign a specific person or members of a team to be responsible for monitoring social media activity and results from your marketing efforts.

The social media person or team can then report back to the rest of the department about complaints or feedback that have been received, what campaign strategies are working, and what topics are trending. The marketing team can use that information to tweak the campaign and get better results.

Respond and Engage

The bigger a brand gets, the less likely it is to respond to customer questions or comments.

In fact, the focus for most brands is just to get as many comments, likes or shares as it can get. Few think much about how to respond to these comments — or think to respond to them at all.

However, failing to respond to comments will also mean that you fail to get the engagement that you need. You must make it your policy to respond and engage to comments as frequently as you can. If you have the time and the resources, it is best that you reply to every comment on your page.

You should also thank people for linking to your content, sharing your post, or re-tweeting you. Not only will the thanks encourage people to do it again, but you’ll also attract more attention with that person’s followers, which can lead to more followers and traffic of your own.

Even if you don’t have time to respond to every comment (which will likely be the case once your page becomes very large), you should make it non-negotiable that you respond to every question posted on your page and every review that users leave.

Be prompt with answering questions to show customers that you care. The customer asking the question and the other followers on the page will take your responsiveness (or lack thereof) as a sign of what they can expect with your service.

Remain Calm and Professional

At some point, you are guaranteed to have someone post a negative comment on your page.

In today’s online landscape, it is almost guaranteed that you are likely to get a scathing rant at some point, as well. It can be hard not to take these rants personal and to react in kind, but you have to remember that everyone is watching, and how you respond can have a big impact on how customers perceive your brand and your service.

Always remain calm and professional. You will win over people who are not even your customers yet if you do. People will see that you have taken the high road and know that they can trust you in their other dealings with you.

Use Management Tools

Numerous social media management tools are available to help you monitor your social media channels more easily and in less time.

For example, you can use a tool like HootSuite to schedule your social media posts so that you don’t have to be sitting in front of your computer 24/7 to post regularly. The software also shows you brand mentions, retweets and so on.

Another tool, Respond, helps you to track customer mentions and allows you to engage more easily.

By using these and other tools, you can create a social media dashboard that lets you see all the most relevant activity at a glance. That way, you don’t have to sift through multiple channels and pages to get everything you need.

When you add social media to your marketing strategy (which should have happened a long time ago), you need to do more than create a campaign. You also need to put a system in place for monitoring your channels and your results. These tips will help you create a stronger monitoring system so you can get the return you want.