Social media has become as much a daily part of our personal lives as it has our business lives. What once was cutting edge just a few short years ago is now just the norm. So how do you know which aspect of social-media marketing you need to have and which aspects are simply passing fads?

For entrepreneurs who are just starting their businesses, wrapping your arms around your social-media marketing plan can feel like a stretch. A social media marketing plan is the summary of everything you plan to do and hope to achieve for your business using social networks. This plan should comprise an audit of where your accounts are today, goals for where you want them to be in the near future, and all the tools you want to use to get there.

Marketers in all industries are realizing the value of social media in reaching customers online. Through effective use of sites such as Facebook and Twitter, brands can earn word-of-mouth advertising as users recommend their products or services to their friends and family.

When you’re just starting off on social media—whether as an individual or a brand or a company or otherwise—the potential of <a title=”Facebook” href=””>Facebook</a> and <a title=”Twitter” href=””>Twitter</a> and <a title=”Linkedin” href=””>Linkedin</a> and all the various other social media channels can be hugely exciting. While there are certainly many options out there when it comes to social media marketing, there is no need to let your plans become derailed by analysis paralysis.

Instead, focus on the following steps to launch a successful social media marketing campaign.

Choose the best social media platform for your brand

There is often a misunderstanding that in order to make the most of social media marketing, you need to be visible on every outlet. This approach can quickly mean debacle for startups that might already be stretched thin in terms of time and resources. Not all outlets will be relevant to your brand. A better approach is to identify and focus on the outlets that are most relevant and valuable. Social media marketing works best when you can generate a consistent content strategy and maintain an active presence. That can be difficult to get done across multiple platforms. In this regard, less is more. Take the time to decide which platforms will be most valuable and use those as your launching point.

Regularity matters

As previously mentioned, social media marketing works best when it is regular. This cannot be a hit or miss intention or you will miss the target entirely. The best way to approach this is with a content posting schedule. There should be no reason why you do not post on your chosen outlets, particularly with a surplus of tools that make it easy for you to schedule and automate posts, such as <a title=”Hootsuite” href=””>Hootsuite</a> or <a title=”Buffer” href=””>Buffer</a>.

Viral content

Any social media marketer’s ultimate dream is to have his or her content go viral, which is not always easy to accomplish. This is particularly true as more content is posted each day and the attention of users becomes divided. The content tends to go viral when it meets these three characteristics: it’s unique or exceptional, it appeals to influencers, and it can be easily shared. Content with the ability to go viral should also be engaging to viewers, meaning that it is easy for users to become involved and comment. Not all the content that you produce will go viral, but it is important to aim for that goal by ensuring that each piece of content you produce meets the three characteristics of viral content.

Social media marketing can be challenging, but not so much so that you become overwhelmed to the point that you never even get started. When handled properly, social media truly does have the power to transform and launch any startup. By taking the time to develop and stick to a social media marketing plan, your startup has the potential to soar.