OK. The title’s a mouthful. But hey, sometimes you need to be specific.

The key concept in social media marketing is often given short shrift or overlooked entirely by SMBs. This is usually because, unlike the big fish at the enterprise level, the marketing budget may be small and the social marketing lead is probably wearing several other hats. That means time is of the essence, and you want to make sure you’re putting effort in the right place. The foundational piece is this: use social media to drive conversions on your web site or landing page.  There are several steps involved in that process, but that’s still the overarching goal. This is often lost in the shuffle, possible because people are used to social media in their personal sphere, which simply involves sharing life’s precious moments. You want to do that here, too, but in most businesses there’s also a goal in mind we shouldn’t forget.

That said, here are some key principles, let’s call them “The Four Cs,” to help you achieve that goal – Create, Connect, Consider, and Convert:

  • Create

As the saying goes in social media, “content is king.” That statement by itself, though, always struck me as slightly redundant, like answering “how can I get more viewers for our TV shows?” with “make good shows.” What is quality content in social media marketing? It is content that addresses actual pain points for actual people in your industry. Now, every industry has several layers, from marketing to management to your core offering. Offer the insight you have to share. One way to do this is to offer insights you’ve learned along the way. Another is to solicit input from experts at those different layers that will be helpful to someone.

  • Connect

Now people have to be able to find your content. There needs to be a specific strategy here based on your chosen social media outlet. If you’re on Twitter, for example, connect with heavy hitters in your industry. You can also search their contacts and send out invites! A good way to go is to get a blog set up and start posting quality content. But unlike Field of Dreams, you’ve got to do more than build it. Mind your SEO keywords, so people can find your content through search engines. If your content is top notch, consider syndicating your blog to expand your reach. You want to be sure you’re connecting to the right audience, that is, potential customers for your product or service. Beyond blogs, how-to videos, testimonials, case studies and white papers can also provide great content to potential customers.

  • Consider

Consider your brand. You want to keep your message consistent, so determine early on what kind of identity you want to convey. This could be the result of a quick chat with the owner or management and sales, to make sure everyone is on the same page. Are you warm and fuzzy, quick and dirty, or sleek and skillful? Are you high end lifestyle or the working man’s hero?

Once you have that dialed in, be considerate of your audience, now that you’ve connected with them. Social Media guru Gary Vaynerchuk uses the boxing image in his book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Left Hook,” to dramatize how it works. Think of jabs as offerings addressing pain points, providing meaningful interaction, which should be the bulk of your posting, with the call to action or more traditional sales pitch only about 10% of your interaction.

Also, be considerate of your outlet. Don’t treat Twitter the same as LinkedIn or Facebook. Get a feel for each and what the audience expects there. Facebook is great to give your audience a peek behind the curtain, to humanize your company, and show pictures of the recent all-company barbecue. Twitter is better for circulating new ideas, opinions, quick humor, and shoutouts. LinkedIn is better for more formal long-form content to demonstrate professionalism and expertise. Depending on your audience you may want to look at Reddit, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr or other emerging outlets.

  • Convert

Strangely enough, in consulting with different companies and marketers (excuse me, ahem, “story architects”), the final piece of getting actual people to connect to your actual product or service often goes missing somewhere along the way. You still need a web site with contact info, or possibly landing pages for more specific offerings. Some may see the 10% call to action recommendation and deprioritize or neglect it entirely. Some buy into the line that social marketing is a necessary evil in today’s marketplace and just needs occasional updating to avoid coming off as irrelevant. In any event, you want to generate quality leads to get quality conversions and build a quality business. Whether posting an ad, striking up conversation in line at the supermarket, or blowing up on Twitter, that’s still the goal.