For a small business, social media is a great place to market your business and build your brand awareness. There is no limit to your reach, it allows you to connect and engage with your existing customers as well as reach out to new ones, and you can do all this without spending shed-loads of money.

Handled the right way, your social media activity can help to increase everything from brand recognition and trust, to real-life revenues and repeat sales. It does take time and effort to build a strong social media foundation, but once you are on a roll it will quickly become second nature.

Let’s take a look at some pain-free ways of stepping up your social media activity without it becoming too much of a drain on your precious time.

he-had-no-pulseMore frequent posting

You have to think of your social media activity as your living pulse. If your posting frequency slows down and stops, then you are essentially dead in the water. None of your followers will hang out on your dead page. Instead, they will happily wander off in search of life on a competitors lively and pulsing page. Think of your content as your pulse – if there is no pulse, there is nothing new for your followers to read.

Set yourself a little experiment. Pledge to increase your social media posts over the next three months and then go and compare your metrics. If you are actually consistent during your three-month pledge you will see your followers grow.

To begin, decide on a schedule for yourself. Be realistic here – if you cannot commit the time then the experiment is likely to fail before it has even begun. For example, you may decide that scheduling three short updates per day on Twitter will be much more manageable than trying to create more lengthy posts regularly on Facebook. Having said that, Facebook is THE most powerful and popular platform, so if a large portion of your followers are using Facebook, try not to neglect it.

If you are a B2B company, then you may decide that posting to LinkedIn once per day is more important, so this will be your priority with Twitter and Facebook posts coming in at a couple of times per week maybe? This will be for you to decide.

Content curation for better engagement

Don’t worry about having to create every single piece of content yourself. Sharing curated content is great for attracting engagement from your target audience. You can source content through a curation apps such as DrumUp or ScoopIt, and you can collect relevant news stories through FlipBoard, which is a news aggregator. There is also human-curated content available through as long as your niche is within the categories they currently support.

Remember to curb your enthusiasm though! Content curation is a fantastic tool to use, but remember not to overload your posts. You need to inject just a little bit of self-promotion into your posts – not too much – but just enough to remind your readers and followers that you are here. Use a scheduling tool such as HootSuite to spread out your content and to post at popular times where you are unable to do this manually.

Creating your own content

We all know that creating your own targeted content can take hours sometimes, but it is well worth the effort to deliver your high-quality content to your hungry crowd. Your best efforts should be applied to creating content that you know will get shares and likes. This will help to increase your reach and draw in new followers. But how do you know what your readers like?

Google Trends is a good place to start. This gives you a great insight into what is trending in your niche. You can search by obvious keywords that relate to your business and look for other related topics and queries in the results below. You can drill down into a particular topic that interests you to see how popular it is. A popular topic can then be used as a something for you to write content about, or collect curated posts about to share.

You can also look back at your stats through your social media analytical tools. Pinpoint what was most popular and widely read or shared previously, then write more content around those popular topics. There is no need to monitor your analytics daily – maybe look once a week to get a good overview of what is proving popular.

Check out social media community groups

Your business niche or sector may have a few dedicated communities on social media. From the perspective of a small business, these community groups can be an invaluable source of information. Social communities are formed by people who share a similar interest and gives them a place to meet and talk about the latest news and happenings. They also discuss problems and issues they are experiencing and how to solve them, so this could be like gold-dust for you! You can take the opportunity to solve a problem with your product or service before it happens, or offer your expert advice to the community, therefore building recognition and trust from a hungry crowd who would love to buy what you are selling.

Point to remember: More frequent posting is good, but engagement is far more important. It is important to let your followers know that you are alive, active and pulsing, but you also need to let them know that you are not only there to promote. Acknowledge your followers and reply to questions without delay. Get a conversation going and chip in with some free advice and guidance whenever you can without any self-promotion.