Any modern CEO or marketer should recognize the immense power of persuasion that social media wields. Hundreds of millions of people world wide use it daily to stay connected with family and friends. Increasingly, it has (for better or worse) become the go-to news source for many. It is also the most direct path for consumers to interact with companies and brands they like and use. As such, businesses have an enormous opportunity to speak directly to their current and prospective customers through social by using their powerful advertising interfaces. Here is a step-by-step guide for marketers who are new to social advertising.

Evaluate Your Social Presence

The first step in creating a social media ad campaign is to make sure you’re doing it on the right platform. Analyze your target audience, and research what their preferred social media channel is. For example, if you are trying to reach middle aged men to sell tools, advertising on Pinterest is probably a poorer decision than investing in Facebook or LinkedIn. This is scientific, but not terribly difficult: research the demographics of various social platforms, evaluate your presence on the ones that line up with your customer base, expand your organic presence there, and plan your media buy to support it.

Set Specific Goals

One of the challenges of any form of advertising is to calculate and justify the return on investment. Thanks to the powerful analytics social media platforms provide, this is actually easier to determine and plan for on social than elsewhere. Whether your goal is to increase foot traffic, page views, or revenue, set a realistic and measurable goal, and then see how your campaigns are received.

Produce Effective Content

Now that you have the planning mechanism in place for your social media campaign, it’s time to focus on execution. You’ve heard the phrase, “Content is king.” This has always been applicable to all forms of advertising, but it’s especially true in social media. You need to make sure your ads are centered around resonant, differentiating copy points. Advertising clichés like “x years of combined experience,” or “commitment to excellence” won’t do you any good. Focus on immediacy and specificity.

Monitor Your Efforts

Lastly, harness the power of social media analytics to objectively measure your campaign’s performance. It’s easy to see how people have engaged and interacted with your ads. Amplify strategies that work, and tweak those that don’t.

Social advertising is your most direct line to customers. Use these tips to set up your campaigns effectively.