I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who is CEO of a thriving retail business. He was telling me how much success he was having with Facebook as a marketing tool. Having previously worked for Hootsuite—a social media management tool—I was pleased to hear that social media was helping my friend build his business.

My friend told me how other business owners have started approaching him to ask him for advice on how they could leverage social media to increase sales. He’s too busy working on his business to start consulting, but he was amazed how frequently other business owners confided in him how little they knew about social media.

They were sharing horror stories of out-of-control customer complaints, posts that failed to connect with an audience and generally a lack of social success. They wanted my friend to fix their Facebook problem.

Social media for all its popularity can still be a challenge for business owners. Using old school sales pitches and traditional PR messaging just doesn’t work. The complaints my friend was hearing are a commonly shared frustration for startups that are trying to leverage social media.

If a customer walked in the door would you hand them a brochure and point them to the checkout line and wish them luck? I hope not! Many businesses do exactly that with their social posts. What kind of relationship are you building with your customer?

Start getting your social on by thinking about which social media network makes the most sense for your business to be active in. Don’t be a Jack of all trades and a master of none. Where do your customers live on social media? Are they on Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? Does your sales process lend itself to one network over another? Begin there.

And how will you define success? Is Facebook is better at driving customers to your business or do you get more traction on LinkedIn? How do you know? Are you asking your customers how they found out about your business? Better yet, track every interaction you can.

We live in the era of big data, so start using it.

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