The future of business is social. Like it or not, Google has become your new business card.

Online marketing and social media provide an opportunity that may vary from your current business plan, which can be uncomfortable. While it’s difficult to get started with a social media strategy for your business, it may be a necessary step in your marketing. For many, it’s overwhelming to know where to start.

We laid out four steps to get started with social media. These are not meant to be comprehensive—social media marketing is largely contextual and requires trial-and-error for each individual business. What has worked for us might not work for you, and vice versa. The following steps are intended to serve as a stepping stone; a place to begin.

 1. Who Will Administer Content?

It is important that you lay out some checks and balances before you get started. There cannot be a single point of failure with your online marketing strategy; one person cannot be expected to always act in the best interests of the company, without fail, every day. Everyone makes mistakes once in a while, and it’s good to have an authorization process in place in order to protect your business. Every post should be approved by someone, whether management or not, ahead of time. That extra minute of work ensures that certain posts that could reflect negatively on the company are never posted in the first place.

 2. Identify your Platforms.

With so many different social media platforms, it can be difficult to determine which ones will offer the most value for you. Try and choose a variety of social (e.g. Facebook) and professional (e.g. LinkedIn) platforms. It’s better to select a few that will deliver the most value rather than overwhelm yourself. One platform that is underutilized but is worth your time for the SEO alone is Google+. Google+ has over 343 million active users and has a larger presence, especially for businesses, than it gets credit for.

 3. Create a Strategy.

It is necessary to determine (and write down) who will administer content, what kinds of content are acceptable, when you should post, where you should find content, how you will get content approved, and other procedures. Include general guidelines and “best practices” in terms of representing the company. Make sure to acknowledge the need for some creative freedom, so allow good judgment for the company’s best interests above all else.

 4. Track your Results & Monitor your Progress.

Your social media strategy should keep your goals in mind: connect with and expand your audience. Tracking your results is relatively easy because most (if not all) of your platforms will have tracking programs already built into their sites. Those results can be connected to your main Analytics Program that you use for your website, so you can monitor the movement between platforms. If you do not currently use a program like Google Analytics, find out how to get started here.

Next step: monitor your progress daily. Respond to any comments, follow up with new subscribers, and do some general housekeeping to make sure that everything is in order and that your online presence reflects the company in the most positive manner.

Getting started is always the most difficult step. If you’ve done your homework and set your strategy, policy, and procedures upfront, you will save yourself a lot of time in the long run. If you have any questions or constructive comments, please leave them below!