This article first appeared as Anthony Bullick’s column in the Daily Post business section on 20 September.

Next month we rub shoulders with the likes of Vodafone and Adidas at the UK Social Media Communications Awards. Our digital campaign for an SME in North Wales has been shortlisted in the low budget category.

At the heart of the activity was creative content tailored for the target audience. Follow these steps to truly engage your fans and followers online.

Firstly, identify your business goals and who your target audiences are. For example, if you’re looking to sell more of product A, who is more likely to buy it? Is it males aged between 17 and 35, or females aged between 50 and 65? If you are recruiting, who are you seeking applications from? Is it potential apprentices? Graduates? Experienced professionals? If you’re looking to sell a B2B service, what type of companies and who are the decision makers?

The key part to devising and implementing a creative social media campaign is understanding what type of content will be of value to your audience, while still being relevant to your organisation.

If the end goal is a purchase, the user could be receptive to special offers and discounts, competitions, stories related to how someone else has used the service, and product reviews and specifications.

If recruitment is the objective, the potential applicant could be interested in behind-the-scenes footage of the workplace, type of clients and projects you work on, and career development and training.

Carry out online research including searches on platforms including Twitter and Facebook, as well as LinkedIn groups and other forums. Do a Google search to discover websites including blog posts and news articles.

Review your own social media analytics to identify what content already works well and attracts engagement. In addition, analyse your Google Analytics: what pages are visited the most and did any particular news articles or blog items receive a lot of traffic?

Consider focus groups to ask questions and have conversations with your target audiences.

The above steps will also guide you on what format to present your content. Examples include infographics, e-books, videos, and latest news articles or blog posts.

Where possible, have the target audience’s peers communicate the key information as they are more likely to believe and retain it. For example, interviewing current apprentices on video about working for your business will have more impact than the CEO, who will be expected to say positive things.

Throughout the campaign, monitor and evolve your activity to reflect new trends and to react to how your fans and followers are behaving with your content.