Have you ever suspected that your social media marketing is just a giant waste of time and resources?

You’re not alone.

Here’s the problem: Social media marketing is a term that encompasses everything from responding to that feisty troll on Twitter to pushing your latest blog post out to your Instagram followers.

We’ll be unpack what social media marketing is so you can determine where to spend your time, money, and energy for your clients or business.

It starts with understanding that there are four very different social media activities and they each help you reach different goals.

1 – Social Listening – Monitoring and responding to customer service and reputation management issues on the social web.

2 – Social Influencing – Establishing authority on the social web, often through the distribution and sharing of valuable content.

3 – Social Networking – Finding and associating with authoritative and influential individuals and brands on the social web.

4 – Social Selling – Generating leads and sales from existing customers and prospects on the social web.

Let’s start with Social Listening.

If your business goal is to manage your brand reputation, increase retention of existing customers, or increase customer satisfaction, you should have a Social Listening process in place.

To do this, you’ll want to use a good Social Listening tool like Mention, if you’re smaller, or Salesforce’s Social Studio if you’re bigger. You’ll set these tools up to “listen” for mentions of your brands (people, products, etc) and return it to a dashboard where you can take action on it.

It’s important to understand that Social Listening is very different from the other three social media marketing activities. In a larger business, the listening role might live with the Customer Service team while something like Social Networking might live on the Sales Team. On a smaller team, it might be a single person doing all four activities.

For even smaller companies, a tool may not be required. Something as simple as monitoring your pages and social accounts (as Chipotle is doing below) is enough.

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