Are you doing social media marketing the wrong way?

It seems that a lot of business owners and executives are asking themselves that very question lately, as they pour more and more time into sites like Twitter and Facebook, without having any real idea of what they’re getting back in return.

If you’re worried that you might be wasting the effort you put into social media, here are three ways to be smarter about it in the coming year:

1. look to see when your audience interacts in social media

Most social media platforms have data available that you can view so you know when your customers are interacting in that social media platform. Take a look and see the best days, times, etc. for you to send out your messaging.

2. Spend less time on social media sites.

In truth, it usually doesn’t take very long to post updates or respond to questions, especially if you use tools that let you manage all your social accounts from one place (as you should consider doing). Anything more than 10 or 15 minutes a couple of times per day, and you’re probably wasting time with friends or colleagues.

3. Emphasize customer service.

One great way to make the most of your social profiles is to engage customers and answer FAQ-type inquiries publicly. That lets you interact with your most important buyers personally, spread more info about your products and services, and show that you are open and accessible.

4. Track the effectiveness of your social media marketing.

Pay attention to the analytics on your website to see whether you’re getting visits, purchases, etc. from your social media profiles. If one or more channels aren’t working particularly well, try to devote more of your time and resources elsewhere rather than forcing the effort.