THE BLOG
10/16/2014 03:28 pm ET Updated Dec 16, 2014

8 Ways to Make Social Media Work for You

Nearly one-third of Americans get their news from Facebook, in the same place they follow stories from their friend's lives and find cute pictures of cats. Social media is more than just a place for socializing -- today many businesses have found it is integral to their success. Social media makes it easier than ever to connect with customers and develop a relationship.

However, too many businesses fail to do their research before diving into social media - and there are many ways to fail at social media. Follow these eight practices to set your business up for success on whatever platforms you decide to use.
  1. Pick the proper social media platforms for your business:
    Don't try to reach customers on every single platform. The fact is that some platform will not be a good fit -- for example, a tech startup is more likely to find new customers on sites like Twitter than sites like Pinterest, which cater more to crafty types. Knowing your audience is the first step to success with social media.  The CEO of POC Medical, Sanjeev Saxena says "we started promoting our business on Twitter but got zero results in two months.  At the same time we were getting a lot of interactions and connecting with our audiences on Facebook.  Since running these types of texts, we've found that many places just don't work for our business."


  2. Do not over promote your business:
    Social media is first and foremost social, meaning you should not be using it as another place to throw out ads. You should follow the "one in seven rule" where one in every seven of your posts is overt marketing for your business, the rest should be relevant to your customers and useful or amusing. For example, instead of posting marketing about you in particular, you could post data about your niche or educate consumers in industry trends as an insider.


  3. Write individual posts for each network:
    While using a social media platform for syndication does make posting content a lot easier, posting the same thing on different networks really only works for individuals; if you do it as a business, your message's sincerity gets lost and customers will lose interest and trust.


  4. Have personality to your posts:
    Your posts should reflect your brand, and that means advertising your brand's morals and attitude. Your posts should tie into your desired aesthetic and show your customers you are proud of what your business represents. Having personality also makes it easier for customers to connect to your business, as it feels more like connecting with another person than becoming a brand loyalist.


  5. Measure your results and act accordingly:
    Having good analytics of all of your posts is one thing, but actually applying and using the data you get to improve your business's social media strategy is another. Businesses who have a good social media presence use the analytics to learn, continually growing and adapting their market strategy to make sure they are always ahead of the curve on the platforms they use.



  6. Ask questions:
    Social media is built around a sense of community, and the best way to succeed is to create a community and interact with it. Posting questions in your content will increase comments and shares - people love to get involved and make sure their voice is heard. Building a community is essential to making sure your posts are seen, since the algorithms on social media sites respond to interaction on posts.

  7. Give your content real value:
    Posting as an industry insider is sure to get the attention of your followers. Who doesn't like getting the inside scoop? A whooping 94 percent of people consider whether their friends will find a post useful before they share it. Take advantage of this and start having confidence in the information you are posting!


  8. Have desired outcomes in mind: Flying blind into social media is just as ill-advised as flying blind into any other aspect of your business.Take the time to have a clear plan in mind before you start posting to avoid losing direction and dissuading people from following your business.