When creating a social media marketing plan, one of your first and foremost goals is to increase the number of "followers" (or "fans" as they are called on Facebook) you have.

While you always want to grow the number of local prospects your business reaches, how do you know how many social media followers are enough?

We can tell you.

Rapid growth of followers should not be a long-term goal for local social media marketing because there will come a point where any new followers gained are not your target audience. You are wasting valuable resources (time and money) if your goal is to generate a large quantity of followers because they most-likely will not be your target customers.

Large national brands often use social media as a branding vehicle, growing their social media followers into the tens and hundreds of thousands. However, as a local business, you aren't using social media for the same branding purposes as your larger counterparts -- your goal is to keep current customers loyal and convert prospective customers into paying ones.

Recently, Copyblogger announced they were leaving Facebook entirely; while many people in the social media marketing world obviously think this is a mistake, the company put a lot of thought into the decision. Those critical of Copyblogger's strategy understand that a large portion of the company's content views originated from Facebook -- content views and an audience that the company clearly felt it could walk away from.

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However, what those critical of Copyblogger did not realize was that the company's fans had a serious engagement problem. After Copyblogger measured the engagement (or lack of) of its fans, the company decided its Facebook efforts weren't providing enough ROI and therefore abandoned the platform.

While I don't recommend leaving a network entirely (a lot of work and trial/error went into the decision at Copyblogger), it does remind us that social media should be a vehicle you use to meet your overall marketing goals and you shouldn't use it simply because "everyone else is doing it."

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Your business is unique and you should never be a sheep that gets lost in the crowd of what every other business is doing. Instead, your focus should be on doing what is right for your business, which might mean standing out from the flock. The three steps outlined below will help you be a pink flamingo in a sea of sheep and help you determine how many social media followers is enough for your business.

1. Determine your social media goals

Your social media goals will define how you actually use the networks and you should routinely check back on these goals to see if your efforts are aligning correctly.

Before you decide whether a network has reached its current potential, you should determine your social media mission, goals and tactics.

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2. Work to increase engagement

Disclaimer: out of all three steps, this should take you the most time and effort. Please don't let this discourage you!

You should have already laid out your social media strategy based off your overall marketing plan. However, the individual tactics you use to increase engagement will often be based on trial and error (and that's normal!).

For example,one of your goals may be to understand and incorporate best practices for posting on each social network. To reach this goal, you could measure the amount of engagement you receive on multiple different types of posts. Once you determine what elements of a post made it successful (whether is was posting during a certain time, being written in a certain format or on a certain topic), you can incorporate those features into future posts in order to reach your overall goal.

Not only will you reach your goal, but you will also begin to understand the characteristics of your audience, based on what they like to see from you on social media.

3. Reassess

By working toward your goals, you will also begin to understand what resonates most with your audience -- and also what doesn't work. Going back to the Copyblogger example, this is the step where the company decided to call it quits after reassessing its efforts.

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Not only will you be able to determine if your followers are interacting with you, but you can determine if you are seeing too much success from your marketing efforts (yes, that exists!).

For example, if you are a chiropractor and have created a Twitter profile and Facebook page in order to raise awareness of your practice and bring new clients through your door (using the advanced search feature). You can see the impact of your social media marketing efforts because you ask when clients where they were referred from, they answer "Twitter" and "Facebook." Your once slow schedule is now booked solid for the next two months with new clients.

While it made sense to grow your social media followers initially, you are now running into problems because you are incredibly busy and your existing clients are having trouble making appointments to see you (a potential loss of business from loyal customers).

At this point, you should sit down and measure the impact social is having on your business. For Copyblogger, they determined Facebook was not worth the time; however, for you it may mean that you should ramp up your efforts to bring in new/repeat business OR scale back to focus on other business efforts that provide you with more ROI.

The key is understanding your goals and when you have reached them, surpassed them or they simply aren't feasible for your business anymore.

Everything your business does should regularly to be measured and assessed to make sure you are spending your valuable resources on the right things. Social media should be something you do because "everyone else is doing it" -- it should bring value to your business.

A good place to start with social media is learning the basics about social posts and the best practices for each network. Our eBook, 9 Ways to Crush it on Social Media, will help you create a strategy that uses the unique characteristics of each network to help you reach your goals.

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Or, for more information on the Franchise-Info Business Directory, call Joe at 1-443-502-2636 or email Joe direct [email protected]

The post How Many Social Media Followers Are Enough? appeared first on LocalVox.

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