How important do you think social media is to your new business? You know it is very important, right? Think about your target customers that you need to engage with if you want to make your business a success. Pretty much all of them will have at least one social media account if not more – in fact over 70% of adults do, so you can see the potential for your business is enormous if you handle your marketing campaigns just right.

There is obviously more to social media marketing than just having your own Facebook account, or being signed up to LinkedIn. If you are not attracting new subscribers or making regular conversations, then you are not doing enough.

Remember that these can be effective tools when you are using them in the right way. Before you do anything, you need to know where your target market is hanging out and plan your strategy to go after them. Time is precious to any new business trying to find their feet, but spending time identifying your target audience will pay you back well, save you even more time further down the line, and save you a lot of frustration in the long run.

You need to invest time into planning your strategy, craft valuable content, target the right audience and correct outlets for your work.

But there is more to being successful than posting the details of your latest sale, or announcing a new product or service. Haphazard updates can often confuse rather than help your strategy. Before you even start posting on behalf of your business, you need to have your core values in place for your business.

Without your core values how are you going to approach your potential customers and explain who you are, and what you want to achieve. Every time you devise a social media marketing campaign, your focus should be on content that is relevant to your sector, be topical and engaging enough to create some buzz about you and your brand, and be delivering what you followers want and need.

So if you are a shoe retailer for example who only market wide fitting comfortable shoes specifically designed to encourage good physical alignment, which are also made from special breathable material for healthier feet, then you need to explain your reasons for your business to potential new customers. You are running this business because people don’t look after their feet, and you want to change that for the better. So your posts will deliver information about looking after your feet, how to remove hard skin, treating nail infections, the benefits of a good pedicure – and so on, but without leaving any doubt in your followers mind about who you are, and why your shoes are better than others.

Another important factor is consistency. You may be able to weave an informative, conversational and engaging post, but what good is it if no one is reading it? There is a risk here where you take some precious time out of your busy routine to craft a good article for your blog, but you are disappointed by the response you receive, and you start to think to yourself ‘what’s the point of spending so much time on posts if no-one is going to read them?’. This is where you may become sloppy, and you start to post less often, and of a much lower quality or attention to detail than previously.

You have to remember that it is early days within your new business. Success does not happen overnight. As you attract a new audience they will take the time to read your previous posts to get a better idea of your company and it’s core values. If you want to engage with new people, all of your posts need to be consistently good, and of high value so you will always create a positive impression with prospective new customers.

Once you have crafted an article or post that you are proud of, you should make the most of it by frequently sharing that valuable content. Timing is important here, so if you are operating on an international scale, then it will be better to spread your posts around the clock rather than during your average working day. Using social media management tools such as HootSuite or Buffer for example means you can schedule a post for 3am when you are safely tucked up asleep in bed.

Using a management tool will also allow you to cross-post your content to all your other social media accounts, so you save a lot of time not having to post your content manually on each individual platform. This way you can get the most amount of mileage from one single piece of well-crafted work.

Choosing which social media sites to prioritise is very important. Going back to the shoe retail example mentioned earlier, this business would rely heavily on more visual marketing platforms than say a firm of accountants for example. Shoes will look better and attract more interest on Pinterest and Instagram, but when people are looking for an accountant they will be more interested in how they can help rather than what the inside of their office looks like.

Identifying where your target audience spends most of their time is the key to success with your social media strategies, and asking existing customers about their social media use will be a good indicator to lead with. You can do this via a customer survey with some incentive attached, such as customer discount or a prize draw entry. Or you can check out the statistics on one of the many social media research providers such as Sysomos or SocialClout for a bit more insight.

Always remember that no matter how well you try to push your business on social media, you are also there to engage with your followers and share conversations. No matter how compelling your posts are, your potential customers will switch off from you if all you are doing is consistently posting sales pitches with no engaging interaction in between.

You are here to listen and not shout. Customer feedback is one of the most important elements of any business. By listening to your followers and existing customers, you will get a better insight into what their preferences are, and what they don’t particularly like that you can take steps to address to show that you actually listen to your customers.

Never forget to listen and engage! Your social media sales will flow as naturally as the conversation if you remember this.