So your company’s got Instagram and Facebook channels, and probably Twitter and LinkedIn. Now what? Unfortunately, stakeholders often place unrealistic expectations on their social media channels. They don’t really know what their social channels will do for their business.

If you’re still somewhat in the dark about what social media means for your business, you’re not alone. Here’s what you should expect when it comes to social media marketing.

“Social media alone is not going to make your brand. It is but one piece in what should be a diverse marketing arsenal.”

Miracles are rare 

This one’s a hard one to swallow for many stakeholders. You’re not going viral. Miracles in social media marketing are rare. Companies that use their social channels as potential means for “making it big” are doing themselves a disservice. Social is more effective as a long game.

Building followings of engaged customers and prospects is what you should be after. Establishing brand love with your followers takes time and regular dedication. Social media marketing can go a long way in building a brand voice and establishing who you are as a brand. Go for quality over months and years, rather than the slim chance to burn bright.

Content is still king

If you’re not posting quality content to your channels, it’s all for naught. It’s simply no longer enough to post random thoughts or share a cool article once a month. Few followers truly care you’re wishing them a Happy New Year.

Instead, ask yourself what people expect of your brand. Then don’t let them down. (Surprise them even!) Answer them in a big way and say something. You need a strategy. You need a phone to take nice shots if you don’t have design talent on your staff. You need a clear opinion.

But whatever you post, make a statement. Demonstrate what you believe. Show value for your followers. Make them proud they’re following you and give them a reason to continue following you.

You need help

Don’t expect to win social media simply with organic growth. Yes the dedication and time of your own team members will pay off, but to accomplish real strides in social media marketing, look at a paid strategy.

It doesn’t have to be expensive either. Some very light social media campaigns can cost as little as under $1,000 a month. But a paid campaign will get you way more exposure than simply by engaging with your followers and other accounts. Don’t be afraid to pay a little.

The right people

If you’ve read any of our posts, you know we’re big on hiring professionals to do professional work. Don’t expect great things from your social media if you leave it to your new intern because she likes photography, or to Ken in finance because he’s got a thousand followers.

Your social channels are the first encounter many will have with your company. You may think social media management takes only minutes a week. It doesn’t. Don’t hand it off to someone with their own pile of work to do. Leave it someone who knows what they’re doing.

Making it big… eventually

Expecting too much of your social media marketing is a little like busking on the corner and hoping to be discovered and given a record deal. It’s not going to happen like that.

But if you show up every day, ensure the right people are the ones putting the work in, and give it the dedication it deserves, it will pay off over time. As long as you know what to expect.