Social media marketing can either be an extremely worthwhile investment for your business or a massive time sink that brings little or no benefit. Unfortunately, in the short term, telling those two extremes apart is not always easy. How much is a Twitter follower worth? Can you put a value on the number of times your business is mentioned on Facebook?

First, you need to understand the social media strategy-development process. How can you start measuring return on investment (ROI) if you do not know the steps you need to take to create a campaign? Knowing the process allows you to look at each step from an ROI perspective.

social media guide to success

The clickable image to the left leads to an interactive visualization (courtesy of Simply Business) that provides a step-by-step guide to developing a social media plan. (For further reading, check out the resources noted in each section of the interactive version of the graphic.) Once you understand those steps, you need to start thinking about ROI.

Initial Steps

Here are three initial steps to take that'll ensure your social media strategy is set up to measure ROI.

1. Have a clear motive

Before you kick off any kind of social media strategy, you need a clear idea of what you're trying to achieve. Diving in without a set of objectives (e.g., improving customer service, increasing online sales) means you won't be able to identify social success.

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Kieran Flanagan is inbound marketing manager for EMEA at Salesforce, a leader in CRM solutions that just launched its new Social Success resource site in the UK.