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The truth is numbers never lie. And there is power in those numbers. Yet in a rapidly evolving technological world it has never been more important to remember what those numbers represent.

People.

Ultimately, it is the people holding the Smartphones and browsing on tablets that make up the 270 million Twitter users. It is the people typing away on laptops that comprise more than 1.2 billion Facebook users.

People put the social in social media marketing, which has in recent years transitioned from something small business owners want to an asset small business owners need.

Why?

Business Matters magazine points to increased website traffic, branding, personality and efficiency in marketing as the main benefits small business owners can expect from a social media marketing effort. The pros of having a strong social media presence far outweigh the costs of developing and maintaining profiles on the various platforms.

Social media is a business savvy tool that should be harnessed into any business marketing strategy.

Like many things in life, none of that happens without taking that crucial first step. Once you’ve decided to see what social media can do for your business, the rest is pretty simple:

1)     Define your goals. The goals and objectives of your business should shape the goals of any social media marketing campaign. The caveat to this is, ironically, also in the numbers. Professionals are making careers out of analyzing statistics and bringing value to things like Google AdWords and Facebook Insights. Why? Because, to the average business owner, those numbers are clear as mud. Instead, focus on advanced metrics like how many leads or referrals you would like to see.

2)     Start small. It can all get a little overwhelming. From the way a platform is used to the audience it is designed to reach, it is crucial for you to know what it is you hope to gain from having a presence online. One of the best ways to start is to outline which social media platform you will start with, and build from there. For example, if you’re in sales, the professional network offered through LinkedIn might be a better fit for you than the artsy craft-inspiring world of Pinterest. That doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t build a presence on Pinterest eventually, but it’s a good idea to focus your efforts first on the platform that best suits your business.

3)     Create or improve your social media accounts. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking to improve your existing web presence, the time is now to put your plan into place. Start by creating the accounts, if they aren’t live already, and make sure there is a consistent look to each. Optimize profiles for search-engine optimization is another strategy to help your business become the go-to on page one of a Google search. Consistency is key, not only to branding but to the posts themselves. Use whatever organizational system works best for you to track when posts are happening, but make sure they happen regularly or the entire plan will fall apart.

4)     Create and execute a content plan. This may vary in size and scope, but it builds upon the necessity of consistency in marketing. Staying organized is key to the successful implementation of a plan, which should at a minimum include high-quality content and a plan or schedule built around promoting that content.

5)     Engage! One of the best ways to maximize your web presence efforts is to do exactly as the concept suggests: be social. Follow similar businesses and take note of what’s working for them. Engage in conversations on topics that are meaningful to your business, and link back to your web site. Having conversations will bring the personality behind your brand to life while simultaneously building a network of your web site links out there.

6)     When in doubt, seek help. So you’re not an expert blog writer? No problem. You don’t know how to use filters on Instagram? Don’t worry about it. Only you know the real reasons why you got into business. You know what drives you as an entrepreneur. And you know what your definition of success is. If all of this social media marketing business isn’t your forte, that’s ok. And you’re not alone. There are services out there, like what we offer at Cloud Friday, that can help you stay focused on what you do best while we take care of the rest. There are options. Choose one and stick to it so you can do what you do best in managing your business.

Because in the business of you, you know best. You are the person behind the number.

All the other numbers start there.