By Kayla Matthews

We like to look at the social media field as a giant board game. To elaborate, it’s a game that is always changing and evolving from day-to-day, and year-to-year. New strategies and methods are constantly cropping up before they disappear, forgotten once again, mostly because they were overused to the point of death. Because of this, social media is no longer an option for business, it has become a necessity. It’s no longer a force that you can just ignore. In that respect, nearly every brand or business out there now has some kind of social media presence. Needless to say, it’s made the market a lot more competitive.

Learning how to swim, or learning how to stay afloat can be very difficult when the water is always churning. To help out a bit, we’ve compiled a list of ten highly actionable social media strategies that should be implemented in your campaign this year.

1. Take advantage of micro video.

Micro-video networks like Instagram and Vine are becoming increasingly popular. Why? Because it’s so much easier to share a quick video blurb from a mobile device than write out a longwinded status update. Expect micro video to become incredibly influential over the next couple of years. Of course, marketers and advertisers can make great use of such platforms which is always a bonus.

2. Start sharing high quality photos and videos.

Media-heavy networks like Pinterest, Tumblr, Slideshare, Path and Mobli are on the rise. Additionally, everyone is making a jump to mobile platforms instead of traditional desktops, meaning that media-rich content is a lot more likely to get shares than paragraphs of text.

Make sure you have plenty of valuable resources to offer your clients. For example, check out the resources created by this construction software company. You wouldn’t think a company in this industry would have that many opportunities to offer great social media content, but they’ve created ebooks, videos, webinars and all kinds of other resources that can be easily linked to any social site. It doesn’t matter which social network you decide to make your bed in, just ensure that it offers media sharing. According to Kissmetrics, posts on Facebook with photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs than text-based ones.

3. Integrate Google+ into your social strategy.

Google+ and Google’s recent Authorship system have become an integral part of SEO. If you want to appear higher in search results and really get your brand out there, you need to start participating on Google+, in addition to several social networks. Google is slowly turning their social network into a powerhouse, and you don’t want to be fighting a steep incline on the day it becomes a necessary evil. In other words, start using the platform now!

4. Be a better listener.

More brands are becoming better listeners, and it’s beneficial to do so. Consumers often take to social media to discuss their likes and dislikes of your products and services. Don’t just ignore them, or brush off their woes with a smug answer. Actually take a moment to listen to what they are trying to say, and lend as much aid as you possibly can. Not only does this keep one of your customers happy and loyal, but it also shows everyone else that you’re willing to go the extra mile. Remember, everything you do on the internet, social or otherwise, can be visible to the public.

5. Assemble a great social media team.

The driver behind the wheel is just as important as the road the vehicle is on. After all, you wouldn’t put a two-year-old behind the wheel of a semi-truck would you? That same principle holds true with social media. Participating on social media is no longer a choice, it’s a necessity. Take the time to assemble a bright and talented social media team. While lots of good can come from a successful social strategy, a crash can put you out of the game for a long time.

6. Start out small.

If you’re just now diving into the social game, understand that you don’t need to be on every single platform in existence. In fact, it would be impossible to do that effectively. Analyze your demographic and main customer base and then choose the best platforms that will help you meet your goals. Every social network is different, and so is the user base.

7. Measure your ROI.

The only way you will ever know whether or not your social media campaign is effective, is if you keep track of your return on investment (ROI). Many brands and businesses make the mistake of jumping into the fray without tools or measures in place to analyze such information. Keep track of who comes from where, and which networks are generating the most leads. Knowing your ROI is absolutely vital to future success in the world of social marketing.

8. Start advertising smarter.

Your social followers don’t mind seeing the occasional advertisement or promotion. In fact, we would go so far as to say some of them love it. Just don’t turn their social feed into a never-ending stream of hog-wash. It’s not a bad idea to devote a small budget to a few ad placements and promotional posts on platforms like Facebook either.

9. Engage your followers.

The brands that see the most success currently on social media platforms are the ones that invest in nurturing relationships with their followers. Post engaging content and interact with your followers, don’t ignore them. In order to increase exposure on a social network, your content needs to remain active and fresh so you can keep followers interacting to and discussing your content. Stay as far away from static content as you possibly can.

10. Fess up to your mistakes.

Mistakes happen; after all we’re only human. There is no way to erase a mistake you’ve made on a social media network, because chances are one or two people saw what happened. Instead of trying to brush your mistakes under the rug, use the opportunity to fess up and take responsibility. Admit something went wrong, apologize for any harm you might have done and then carry on. Believe it or not, most people will respect your brand for doing such a thing.

There you have it! Ten highly actionable social media tips that will help you run a successful social media campaign. Above all, make sure you have a clear and defined strategy that incorporates these elements and you will be just fine!

Are there any strategies or tips you think we overlooked? Feel free to share with me in the comments!