Every brand and business needs a custom social media strategy based on their current social media standing, goals, and resources available to them. Many companies rely on a social media manager or a marketing director to develop a strategy for team members to carry out.

And while everything in social media tends to hinge on a bunch of independent factors, there are some universal, core building blocks which you need to have in place to ensure that your business gets the most out of its social media initiatives. Organizations in any industry have the potential to use their social media presence effectively. Here are eight steps to consider when developing a successful social media marketing strategy:

1. Establish marketing goals

Successful social media strategies typically begin with identifying the goals that your marketing team wants to achieve. Your organization may want to improve its brand awareness, sell products, gain more repeat customers or accomplish other objectives.

2. Research your audience

Next, meet with your marketing team to learn more about your company’s target audience. You can review the team’s buyer personas or gather data to develop your depictions of your company’s ideal customers. To create buyer personas for your audience, start by collecting demographic data, such as gender, age and location. Then use customer research to add details like the person’s primary interests, problems and needs.

3. Check your competition

After completing preliminary audience research, take some time to understand how your main competitors use social media. Review the social media platforms they use most often, the types of content they post and their publishing frequency. Completing this review can help you determine how other companies in your industry use social media and can identify areas where you could stand out.

4. Identify the right social media platforms

Review your audience research, competitor data and marketing goals to decide which social media platforms your strategy should prioritize. If your audience is active on only one social media channel, you may opt to focus on that single platform. However, if your audience uses several platforms, you may need to choose two or more that will help you reach your goals.

5. Create a content calendar

Next, create a list of content you plan to publish on your company’s social media channels. Your content can include everything from product updates and sale announcements to current events and behind-the-scenes images of your company. Then, add the material to a calendar so you can begin to develop a regular posting schedule.

6. Engage with your audience

As you publish social media content, monitor the reactions from your audience carefully. Set aside time to respond to comments, answer questions and engage with your audience regularly. If your social media strategy generates comments and concerns that apply to other teams, consider developing a workflow to respond effectively to your audience.

7. Track social media metrics

To confirm that you are achieving the goals you initially set, track your social media metrics at the end of each month. You can access analytics for your account, audience and posts on each social media platform you use. Try adding the data to a spreadsheet or your company’s standard report format so you can compare results from month to month.

8. Track social media metrics

To confirm that you are achieving the goals you initially set, track your social media metrics at the end of each month. You can access analytics for your account, audience and posts on each social media platform you use. Try adding the data to a spreadsheet or your company’s standard report format so you can compare results from month to month.