There pressure to succeed at social media has never been greater. If you’re not getting social, you are missing out on one the biggest opportunity in modern business.

Now brands have a direct line to their existent and prospective customers. As a brand, you can chat with millions of users across the world, whenever you want. Making the most of this opportunity is the key to a successful social media strategy.

Being impatient won’t help.

The truth is that many brands fail at social because they are impatient. They don’t take the time to think about what, to who or why they are posting.

And then if you take into account the pitfall of expectations. You’re expected to know exactly what to post, how to post, and where to post it, straight away. As you’ve been deemed the ‘expert’

I’d be the first  to admit that I’ve been overwhelmed by the pressure to succeed in social media. What I’ve learned though is that if brands have clear values, vision, and purpose, that is the best start possible. Ultimately your goal should be to focus on being real, engaging and listening to your followers, offering something valuable, and managing expectations.

Here’s few tips I’ve learned along the way that might help you:

Build relationships.

Engagement is still the current buzzword in the industry. It’s one of the most talked about aspects of any social media strategy. Many brands struggle with how to define engagement, or how it works in practise.

Engagement is not the number of views on your tweet or post. It is simply the interactions between your brand and your followers. Likes and shares are a great indicator that your audience is interested with what you’re posting, but the most valuable engagement is in real conversation. Your ultimate social media goal should be focused on having valuable conversations and speaking to each of your followers as individuals.

Speak to your audience’s interests, passions and start conversations. Engage people, by actively engaging them. It doesn’t matter if you have 10 or 10 million followers, talking to the people following you will result in more individual engagement.

A great way to start off engagement is by engaging with something they post. Ask them a question. Share advice. Just imagine your in a normal social environment, how would you talk to people there?

Find common ground.

The value of listening isn’t a secret, every business person knows that being a great listener is a great skill and that there is more value in listening to people than there is in talking at them.

Listening is a vital part of any conversation, on or offline. You can’t know how to respond to someone without listening to what they have to say. Otherwise you’re just talking at people, which is pretty much what most social media feeds are doing.

Listening is a vital part of any conversation

When you are engaging your followers, listen to them. Respond and ask questions. Try to understand them, their values, their wants. Find where the common ground is, and care about what they have to say. Stop trying to sell, and start listening.

Understand the value in every interaction

Making people feel valued is immeasurable, and is possibly the most important part of any strategy.

If someone highlights something that annoys them in conversation, and you or your brand can help them with, then do it! It could be as simply as posting a link to some useful advice, or just by sending an inspiring message.

Make people feel valued and unique by engaging them, listening to them, and acting on what you know about them in a meaningful way. Finding ways to show you care about your followers will go a long way to building trust and, eventually a brand advocate.

Stop trying to measure ROI

Your social media strategy shouldn’t have to provide a return on financial investment. So stop trying to measure it.

Obviously, this will always be a divisive statement within the company. They clearly want to see some tangible measurement of how effect their social media strategy is working, but it should never be THE measure of how successful it is.  Clearly there are many tools to show how well it’s performing, but it shouldn’t be the goal.

Stop talking at people, and starting talking with them.

Metrics and KPIs matter. Of course they do. Likes, shares, comments and conversation matter. I’m saying that you need to stop expecting a coherent financial return on your investment. You wouldn’t put a price on any relationships you build in real life so why would you on social media. After all is called ‘social’ media.

Its about starting valuable conversations, and building mutually valuable relationships. Use your metrics and KPIs to show whether you’re doing the right thing by your followers, and use it to show how effective that strategy is.

Putting ‘social’ into your social media strategy is simple: stop talking at people, and starting talking with them.