One of the big questions about social media marketing is the question about sales. How much selling should you conduct on social media? Are Twitter and Facebook the proper forums for sales? Or is social media strictly for engagement and generating interest? Do you leave the actual selling to your paid advertising and sales people? There’s no single right answer. The right answer for you depends on a great many variables.

To determine that answer, start by measuring the number of your social media posts that focus on engagement against the number that focus on sales. You may need to tweak that ratio. SuperHeroStuff.com launched their Facebook page in 2012, where they post something eight times every day. Four of the posts are general and focus on engaging their audience; the other four posts promote specific items for sale. The addition of a Facebook page was the only marketing change the business made from 2011 to 2012. In 2012, their sales rose by 150 percent.

There’s a great deal of concern that direct selling “turns off” your social media audience, but SuperHeroStuff.com broke all the “rules,” and it worked.

Of course, everyone should avoid posting irrelevant and forced sales pitches. A focus on marketing and engagement are imperative to create a comfortable environment and to set up future sales. A good salesperson in a real-world, face-to-face situation with customers might pitch the product only 10 percent of the time while chatting up the customer (“engagement”) 90 percent of the time.

Sell when it’s appropriate. SuperHeroStuff.com gathered an audience that loves a particular type of product; it would be a disservice to that audience not to offer them good deals on popular products. The 50-50 approach works well for that business. Try different kinds of posts for your own business and find out what approach works best for you. One last thought: This kind of experimentation takes both time and creativity, so don’t hesitate to employ a social media marketing firm to manage your marketing campaigns and to create innovative content that engages, grows, and retains your audience.