Social media has grown from a simple way for people to stay in touch with friends and family to a very important marketing tool for businesses. It has changed the way consumers interact with businesses to a two-way street where people now have a direct line of communication to brands.

Because of its effectiveness, almost everyone uses it to market to consumers. The question now is how can you reach your audience amidst all of the noise on Twitter, Facebook and other sites, especially if you’re a startup?

Engage your audience

Social media is all about connection. People don’t go there to have advertisements thrown in their face; they go there to maintain or create relationships. Despite companies using social media for over five years, many still view it as just another vehicle to push their products. Is it any surprise then that many companies do not have very good user engagement?

To reap the full benefits of social media, you need to create conversations with your audience. Ask for their opinions, answer questions, share some tips related to your industry and, most of all, thank them for their input. Not only does it make you look more human, it also shows your fans you care about them, ultimately leading to more loyalty.

Engaging with your followers also allows you to monitor conversations and get a good handle on what they care about and what interests them. If you want to spark a discussion, try the following:

  • Crowdsource on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to learn more on the hot topics in your industry
  • Use appropriate hashtags on Twitter
  • Leverage your mailing list and blog as a jumping point to start a conversation on your social media sites
  • Create a poll to see what matters most to your customers
  • Live stream videos of your office, work, etc., on Snapchat or Periscope
Protect your brand

The most important aspect to remember when posting on social media is that you want to represent your brand properly. That means you always need to be aware of what you post and its tone. Does it match your brand? If not, then you might want to reconsider hitting that publish button.

One wrong tweet or post can ruin your credibility. That makes it even more important for you to keep your company accounts safe from hackers. As a social media manager, you likely post to your profile often. However, that means you’re probably using an unsecure network at some point during the day. To keep your reputation intact, always use a virtual private network when accessing your profiles, whether on the phone or from your desktop. It will save you a lot of potential heartache and anxiety.

Schedule your posts

The best way to save yourself time on your social media campaign is by scheduling your posts. There are several different platforms you can use, such as Hootsuite and Sendible. These allow you to space out your social media posts as far in advance as you want for multiple platforms. Instead of keeping track of all your accounts separately, you can do it all in one place.

These platforms also allow you to keep track of keywords and hashtags you want to follow, mentions and responses to your posts. It’s a great way to stay organized and monitor everything that’s going on in your industry.

Hootsuite has a plug-in for Chrome that allows you to share posts you like to your profiles, complete with shortened link. If you find a piece you like, you can simply click the icon and share without having to open another tab and copying and pasting the URL.

Of course, you don’t want to have only scheduled posts on your feed. It will look too robotic. If that’s all you do, then you’ll be missing out on prime conversations with your following. Instead, use this tool to schedule for specific hashtags (Motivational Monday, Throwback Thursday, etc.).  and keep the rest of your posts organic as possible.

Use a social media analytics tool

Many social sites don’t offer full analytics; some such as Instagram and Snapchat don’t have any at all. Even those that do offer some insights, such as Twitter and Facebook, lack a lot of features to analyze properly how well your posts are performing.

Luckily, there are plenty of social media analytics options for you to choose from, with many platforms offering free and premium versions. To get the most out of your analytics tool, you first need to prioritize your goals and then determine your key performance indicators. If you’re simply hoping to increase brand awareness, you’ll probably want to track engagement and shares. If you’re interested more in sales, you want to see the click-through rate of your links.

Unfortunately, these tools don’t come cheap, but they will definitely help boost your numbers. Some of the most widely used ones are Agora Pulse, Brandwatch and Buffer.

While social media might seem quite simple at first, leveraging it to increase your brand recognition and fan loyalty is an art. Like any good art, it takes time, practice and a lot of trial and error. Keep these tips in mind to help your startup succeed.

What are some other ways you can improve your social media presence? Let us know in the comments below.

This post was written by LaToya. She is a freelance technology writer who also has a keen interest in marketing. LaToya loves seeing how quickly marketing has adapted to the latest technology and is interested to see how it will change with the advent of other new tech.

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