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It’s easy to get started on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. But what do you do once you’re done signing up and inviting friends and followers?

It’s at this point that you realize you need a social media plan. According to recently released research from marketing tools company Alinean, your social media return on investment success is often driven by level-of-engagement, and that engagement success is driven by a set of best practices termed the “Social Media Hierarchy of Needs.”

The findings revealed that social media level-of-engagement—the ability to attract and dialogue with followers, advocates, influencers and readers—drove the capture of new prospects, improved existing customer loyalty and provided a platform for collaborative innovation. These engagements eventually led to incremental revenue opportunities and cost savings, the key benefits in the realization of ROI.

The Social Media Hierarchy of Needs includes:

Tier 1: Content – Achieving social media ROI requires a foundation of content, particularly focused on delivering value, presenting new ideas, improving credibility, driving personal connections and providing entertainment.

Tier 2: Campaigns – Users won’t know that the content exists without campaigns, a promotional “push” of messages via the social media channels. Campaigns can include basic messaging like tweeting, updating status, posting discussions and links, and more advanced campaigns such as contests and sweepstakes.

Tier 3: Monitoring – Above the campaigns, monitoring is required to actively listen to the user community. Through monitoring you can track campaign and content effectiveness, advocacy and customer intelligence, trends, competitive intelligence, incidents and issues, as well as responding to direct questions.

Tier 4: Collaboration – Interacting with the user base is a key differentiating element to the most successful social media campaigns. This includes promoting and participating in collaborative discussions and engaging users.