Great social media is no longer optional, and it’s no longer separate from search. In fact, a 2013 analysis of search engine pages by Searchmetrics found that seven of the top eight factors that led to higher rankings were related to social media.

It would make life a lot easier if you could just throw a profile onto Instagram or Twitter and immediately have great potential customers retweeting you and liking your content. Sadly, neither strong social brand ambassadors nor loyal followers are always easy to attract. The fact is that high-quality social media that makes users want to engage is sophisticated and requires a thoughtful, strategic approach.

Content
When you think about what to share with Facebook, Instagram, and your other social channels, you can’t think of it as primarily a vehicle for advertising. Get credibility and attention by providing valuable and entertaining updates while communicating interactively. Four out of every five posts should be useful rather than straightforward marketing. For instance, you can create informative blog articles (similar to this one) to drive social traffic to your site.

“I highly recommend developing a social media content calendar,” advised creative and analytical consultant Matthew Collis. “Also, be sure to get an understanding, to the best of your ability, of when your followers are online so you can post at the right times.”

Finally, make sure that your profile information is captivating and 100% complete, both for direct reading and scanning by the search engines.

Engagement
Social networks really are networks, and you will succeed in part based on how well you can catch the eye of thought leaders and other influencers. The best way to court them and let them know you exist is to comment on their posts or tweets.

Don’t just talk to the major social voices, though. Interact with your fans, follow potential customers, and comment on content related to your field.

Here is an infographic specifically related to building your Facebook presence:

How to Get Your First 1000 Facebook Fans
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

Competition
Depending on your industry, a contest can be a great technique since it means you are offering something for nothing (well, the business case is attention, of course). There are tools such as Offerpop that allow you to design and immediately integrate the contest with your Facebook or Twitter account.

Advertising
You may find success with social ads, but definitely be careful with your budget at first. Although you can target very specifically, these campaigns aren’t always effective.

“My advice is to experiment with paid ads and see what type of results you get,” said Collis, “as this strategy works for some companies more than others, largely depending on the product/service offered and the target market.”

Partnership
Finally, a strong and dependable partnership can keep your approach fresh, organized, and fundamentally strategic. At Ren Scott Creative, we measure success in results. Learn More.
Sources:
http://www.searchmetrics.com/wp-content/uploads/us-ranking-factors-2013.png
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-collis/top-5-tips-for-growing-yo_1_b_5522423.html
http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/get-facebook-fans