A wise person (my IT consultant buddy Alex) recently told me that if I wrote a book about how to measure the return on investment on social media (SM) marketing I’d get rich. The problem is, I currently have no idea how to do it. \nSince the basic platforms are essentially free, the investment is the time and effort you have to put into it. It’s an interesting problem: is it worth it? \nLet’s start with the obvious: it depends on what your goal is. If your objective is to market your goods or services, you need to develop an SM strategy. The same goes for those trying to develop their personal brand, such as entertainers, professional athletes and businesspeople. \nThe next step is figuring out the best SM strategy. This is difficult because there are many platforms available, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google, to name a few. I know from personal experience that you could spend a ton of time on SM, but without a strategy it can end up being a waste of time. So how do we develop an SM strategy that works? \nLet’s use my situation as a case study. I am a personal finance author, trainer and content developer and, up until last year, I also ran a small accounting practice. I have been focusing on three SM platforms: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Whenever I had something to talk about, such as a new CPA Magazine column, I would open up a browser tab that had all three platforms already logged in and I would copy the same message and send from all three. But I had very little idea whether any of my messages were getting through and I didn’t really spend any time measuring the results. My conclusion at this point is not that my SM marketing efforts haven’t worked; it’s just that I’m not that good at it. I want to get better. \nThe timing is right. I am a firm believer that the future of training is online as more and more people are discovering how efficient and convenient learning from the comfort of their home or office is. So my target market is now progressive corporations and associations interested in educating their employees and members about how to optimize their personal finances and retirement planning. I now have a definitive incentive to figure out how to use SM effectively and an easy thing to measure: new clients. \nIn fact, I have made it my personal mandate for 2018 to experiment with the main SM platforms to see which are the most effective for me. Here are the platforms I’ll be using, where I stand today and what I plan to do. \nLinkedIn: I joined LinkedIn in December 2005 and currently have 308 connections. And I am anything but proficient on the platform. It seems an obvious first choice for me in my situation since my target is corporate executives in charge of online learning. I also plan to go back and re-read the informative CPA Magazine article on LinkedIn (“CPA Links,” October 2016). \nTwitter: I joined Twitter in April 2009; I currently have 357 followers and have sent 170 tweets. My handle is @DavidTrahair. I have two handles, one for business and the other for my photography hobby, which makes it confusing when I am on the platform. Who am I again? The CPA trainer or the sport photography guy? While it is easy to change my identity by clicking on the picture in the app, I have to think before I tweet about which target market I am dealing with. To be honest, the photography one is more fun, so if I do open the app, I’m usually on that one. I am going to make a concerted effort to stay on the business account and send regular useful tweets to see how effective this platform can be. \nFacebook: I’ve got to admit, Facebook confuses me even more than Twitter. While anyone who joins will have a Facebook profile, I also have a professional page that I use for business. Again, I have to make sure I’m on the right one when I post something and I sometimes get friend requests on my profile page when what they are looking for is my business page. I find it distracting getting emails whenever my friends post something. I must turn that feature off, even though it is fun to see what kind of stuff they are up to. At this point, I’m planning to spend less time on Facebook to focus on LinkedIn and Twitter.\nI plan to take as many online courses as I can on how to effectively use these SM platforms and have set a time budget of 10 hours a month for a combination of learning about them and using them. I’ll let you know how it goes.