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Establishing your brand on social media involves more than just creating an account and posting everything and anything to it. In order to build a strong social media presence, five things have to happen. If you’re willing to put in consistent effort towards it, you can build up an amazing community of people. Here’s what you need to do to get started.

Identify your audience

The appeal to get a lot of followers in a short amount of time is always going to be there. That’s why there are so many people selling followers. It seems logical that if you have 10,000 followers on instagram that’s 10,000 people who might buy your product or support your business. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. A follower is not a guarantee of a customer. Identifying your audience will ensure that your work is being targeted at people who might actually be interested in your content. It’s important to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Identify what problems and needs they have for which you can provide a solution. Be specific. Identify what purpose you serve for your audience, how they might feel about the problem you’re solving for them, and what the current options are. This will involve doing thorough research, reviewing competitors audiences and keeping up to date with evolving needs in your community.

Engage your audience

Empathize with your audience. They aren’t just “followers,” “fans,” or “customers.” Treat them like a close knit community and they will be much more likely to stick around for the long-haul. Communicate regularly with them. Respond to comments with thoughtful responses. Ask the right questions. Share unique and interesting content. One aspect of social media that helps with more personal engagement is making good use of live videos. You can answer questions live and also give that “real person behind the account” feeling. If applicable, posting content from users or customers is a great way to engage.

Be active

This is another reason why market research is so crucial — use this information to decide when and how to post your content. Create a content calendar and follow it. Be consistent with your posts and engagement. No one will feel connected with an account that is extremely active for two months and then silent for the next two. Using a scheduling app and plan well thought out content. You can always post more, but having at least one post a day scheduled (five posts per week on average) means that whatever goes on in your week, your audience will see something from you. Incorporate variety and use all the avenues of social media you have available (recorded and live videos, text and image posts, stories).

Stay relevant

Social media is constantly evolving, updating and sometimes it straight up changes (I’m looking at you Instagram Algorithms!). In order to be successful on social media you need to keep up-to-date with the changes and updates. Read relevant articles from experts in social media and make notes of key points and changes they emphasize. The formula that is working for your social media now may not be as successful in three or six months from now. Keeping up with new updates and what’s trending will help you adapt in a timely manner so your social media doesn’t skip a beat.

Create

There is a lot of similarity when it comes to content on social media. If you want people to go to you instead of your competitors, you have to stand out. Create good quality content that will captivate your audience and keep them coming back for more. If that means investing in your media so your photos are a higher quality, or planning your posts more deliberately, it will go a long way to helping your social media stand out amongst all the other accounts out there.