Businesses get told over and over again that their social media presence can be crucial to their success, and this is absolutely true! Carving out a space for your brand in the places people are looking now like Facebook and Twitter is a simple step that can pay huge dividends. Once those accounts are set-up, though, how do you encourage people to pay attention and interact? That can get a bit more complicated, but we have some straight forward tips that can help.

Tip 1: Leverage your platform.

Every social media platform has its own features, terminology, and culture. Understanding this will make your posts and other social media offerings feel more relevant to your followers and lend you credibility, as well as increase the reach of what you have to say. Hashtags on Twitter (and also now on Facebook) can spread your updates far beyond your immediate followers, if you pick the right ones! If you can think of several hashtags that would be relevant, do a quick search to see which is used more, and go with the more popular option — that’s the one that more people are likely to look at. If you’re using a WordPress hosted blog, tags can function the same way to reach more people, and groups on LinkedIn can help you expand, as well. Take some time to learn the platforms and use the ones most relevant to the business at hand to their fullest.

Tip 2: Find your voice.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of sounding impersonal or almost robotic when representing a business on social media, but finding your unique voice that communicates your brand is key. Whatever that voice is, make sure anyone posting on behalf of the company understands what it is. Part of finding your particular style is making things personal. Don’t be afraid to share what you think! Especially when sharing links or recommending other people’s work, add a note about why you’re taking the time to share it to keep people from scrolling past yet another bare link on their social media timeline of choice.

Tip 3: Pay attention to your comments.

It can be easy to get overwhelmed in an onslaught of irrelevant, unhelpful, or seemingly unnecessary comments on social media, especially as your business (and by extension, your reach) grows. You don’t need to respond to everything, but keep an eye out for people who are particularly excited about your brand or people who are looking for a resolution of some type of issue that they may have run into. You can turn a fan into a vocal promoter with a simple bit of acknowledgement and gratitude, and you can also turn around a potential problem before it goes any further. Also, on places like Facebook where your followers may be interacting with each other in the comments on your posts, don’t be afraid to step in and stop an interaction that’s taking a turn for the abusive or offensive. Treat it like you’re hosting a party, because it’s your digital space as much as your home or office are your physical space.

Tip 4: Ask for a specific response.

If you want your followers to respond, give them a concrete way to do that! Ask a question or ask people to share how they’ll use a new product, service, or idea you’ve shared. Sometimes people will read an update and think it’s interesting or be inspired, but won’t think to pass that along to you. Give them some direction and see what they’ll share, even if it’s something as simple as taking a vote by retweets vs. favorites or likes vs. shares.

Tip 5: Honor your followers’ time.

The busier we all get, the more people appreciate a company that makes things as streamlined as possible while still getting their message across. Avoid circular links (like linking from your Twitter to a Facebook post that links to your Instagram), and any time you post a link, be as specific as possible about what your followers will find when they get there. A follower who clicks on a link only to be uninterested or disappointed by what they find is that much less likely to click on the next one you share.

Tip 6: Think mobile.

According to a Pew Research Center study published in December of 2012, 64% of people surveyed worldwide and 60% of Americans said that they “regularly accessed social networking sites” on their smart phone. For businesses trying to reach their clients, that means there’s almost no room for content that isn’t mobile friendly. Keep messages short enough to be read on the go (or easily saved for reading later) and keep all media compatible with the major mobile operating systems like iOS and Android. On the rare occasion that something is so good that you can’t not share it even though it’s not mobile-friendly, leave a note saying so when you post, so that your followers can mark it for later if they’re viewing your update on their phone or tablet.

Social media may be the new frontier of marketing and public relations, but like anything else in business, it’s as good as you make it. So tell us, what makes you want to engage with brands on your favorite social network?