You've spent the time to get your local business social media platforms set up and you're cranking out interesting content for your customer base each day. You're hoping you're driving folks to your business and wisely spending your valuable time. But how do you really know? In order to determine the impact your social media efforts are making, you need to create a social media monitoring plan.

First, consider on which social media channels you're going to focus your effort. Ultimately, you may want to have a considerable and impactful presence on every social platform. However, it can be difficult to work on building all those platforms at once; especially if as a local business, you do not have a dedicated social media resource. Therefore, choose two or three with which you'd like to gain the most traction.

Next, determine what your local business is trying to achieve by your social media efforts. Do you want to get more people following your accounts and seeing what you post, do you want them to take a particular action such as comment or share your information, or do you want to encourage a regular dialogue with them? How this desired action is going to be expressed by those you are engaging with on social platforms will largely be determined by each particular platform. For example, if you're waiting to build your following on Facebook, then you will watch to see how many likes you receive. Although, you obviously wont ignore other actions taken by those following you on your Facebook site, you want to learn how to evoke the behaviours you desire in your customers.

Third, set up tools to help you monitor social media platform activities. You want to be as efficient as possible in utilizing your time to monitor your social media. Therefore, you may want to utilize one or more of the following recommendations at least once a day to ensure you're engaged with what is happening with your brand on social media.

Twitter: HootSuite, with its easy to monitor dashboard, makes it convenient to see what others are saying about you on Twitter. Its also easy to see your trail of direct message conversations in Twitter utilizing this tool. However, even if you use HootSuite to make your Twitter monitoring easier, you should always conduct a search within Twitter on your brand.

General web: Google alerts can be an invaluable tool to learn about what is being said about your local business or your industry. By setting up alerts, you have a quick news stream to go through when you have a few minutes in your day.

Facebook: There isn't a specific tool that you need to set up for this platform. Instead, you should log in and review your statistics on a daily basis as well as reviewing and comments and conversations taking place on your page.

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