Let’s face it: in 2018, nearly everyone is online and on a social media platform of some type.

Facebook alone has two billion users, Instagram boasts one billion, and Twitter users number upwards of 300 million. Of the many platforms available today, chances are your brand is on at least one of them. However, simply creating a profile doesn’t guarantee social media success. Follow these simple steps to ensure you are making social media platforms work well for your brand.

1. Set measurable goals for your social media performance

What is your brand hoping to gain through social media? If you don’t have an answer to this question yet, it will be impossible to set a social strategy. Your social goals should be specific and measurable, like increasing Instagram followers by 10 percent in 30 days or improving Facebook response rate by 20 percent at the end of the quarter.

When you set quantifiable goals with specific deadlines, you can easily assess if your strategy is working, and adjust it when it isn’t

2. Find your audience on social media

With social media users in the billions, it is more important than ever to know who you are talking to, and where they are listening. For example, if your audience ranges from 25-29 years old, you may have more success reaching them through Facebook than with Instagram or Twitter. According to PEW Research Center, 80 percent of individuals in this age range use Facebook, while only roughly 55 percent of them use Instagram, and even fewer (about 35 percent) use Twitter.

This goes hand-in-hand with how your audience is consuming information. Right now, video is leading the way. Forbes reports that viewers retain 95% of a message conveyed to them in video form and only about 10% in text. That is a lot of power to ignore in your social media strategy, especially when tools like Facebook Live or Instagram Stories are built seamlessly into the platforms.

3. Own your social media brand

Consumers want to see your brand in an authentic, personal and relatable way. Take time to research ways you can customize your content to exemplify your brand’s values. With written content, this means speaking in a defined, unified voice and tone. Your voice can be funny, smart, serious or dramatic— what is important is ensuring it is authentic to how you want your brand to be seen.

Visually, you can own your persona with things like filters or frames on your images. Social platforms also give you the opportunity to showcase some behind-the-scenes action and give your followers a face behind the name. This helps build a relationship with your viewer, and above all else, presents a space for a human connection.

Register your brand name on any platform you think you may be interested in using, even down the line. This way, someone else doesn’t snatch your name and create confusion among your audiences. By using a consistent name across platforms, you generate a cohesive presence across cyber-space.

4. Create compelling social media content

Your brand needs to cut through the noise and stand out in order to convince your audience to stop their endless scrolling right at your post. Creative content is key. Users want content that speaks to your brand’s expertise, product or service while being creatively interesting.

The biggest piece of this is to be authentic. 46% of users will unfollow a brand on a social channel for posting too many promotional, inauthentic messages. A good way to stay top-of-mind without overselling is to be involved in relevant conversations. Post a unique angle on a trending topic or use holidays and big public events as a way to engage users.

5. Social media is a two-way street – respond to your comments

Social media gives your brand a way to directly communicate with your audience. Responding to comments is an essential approach to humanizing your brand and creating a more personal connection with your audience. Build trust with your audience by responding to all comments, including negative ones.

Make sure you are also part of larger conversations to expand your reach outside of your followers. Following hashtags that are relevant to your posts are a good way to find places to cross-promote.

Now that you have all the tools to social success, let Gavin help you put your social strategy to work, or feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.