Social media is a great budget-friendly way to boost your brand. Millions of people use it, and it’s easy to use. Still, having a Facebook or Twitter account isn’t enough. If that were the case, everyone’s businesses would have successful social media campaigns.

It’s important to develop a marketing strategy to make sure your time and money aren’t wasted. Not sure what to do next? Check out these five amazing tips that will help you heighten your brand on social media.

  1. Do your research

One of the most important things you can do to increase brand awareness on social media is research. Who is your target audience? What platforms do they use the most when it comes to social media? When are they online?

There are so many social media platforms that you won’t have the time or the energy to keep up with all of them. Just having a profile isn’t enough. Your time is limited, so you want to make sure you are maximizing it by using the platforms that will boost your brand the most.

Once you figure out which platforms you’re going to use, you then need to research each platform. Each has a different algorithm that will boost your posts. You need to find out how each works and what you need to do to get your posts noticed. You’ll also want to research each platform’s advertising so that you can maximize your marketing dollars.

  1. Be visual

The importance of images and videos can’t be stressed enough, as posts with images produce 650 percent higher engagement than those with only text. It makes sense. If people’s newsfeeds are a sea of text, it’s natural that they would give a few extra seconds to those posts with images or videos.

Custom images will help increase brand awareness because you will be able to give them a signature look readers can associate with your brand. Use bold, bright colors such as red or orange. They’ll stand out in newsfeeds and create a sense of urgency.

Another important visual element linked to your brand is your logo. You want to make sure it is consistent across all of your social media pages, website and other marketing materials. This is why it’s important for a professional to create your logo. They can make sure it has the proper aspect ratio to look just as good shrunken down to fit a profile picture as it does on a flyer or billboard.

  1. Engage

What would social media be without people being social? Customers aren’t just going to your pages to learn more about your business. They can do that with your website. They’re also going to your social pages to engage with you, whether it’s with a raving review or a product question. Thank customers for their comments and respond to their questions in a timely manner. This will help build your relationship with them and their confidence in your brand.

In addition, the more engagement a post has, the better chance it has of getting in people’s newsfeeds. This makes it the best organic way to make sure your posts are seen. People will have more confidence in your brand if they see a friend or family member shared your post (as opposed to seeing it as a paid ad).

Engagement can also give you a better idea of how your brand is perceived. Be sure to check out your analytics to determine whether posts are doing well organically or through paid promotions. If it’s organic, you can determine what is resonating with your audience and produce more posts with similar elements, which in turn will save money on fewer promotions. If it’s promotions that are doing better, you can reevaluate why it’s not organic and adjust your campaign from there.

  1. Cross-promotion

Speaking of engagement, work with another business owner to cross-promote your brand. Tag each other in a post, or mention each other in a tweet. This will expose your business to a new audience because your partner’s followers will see it. Be sure to choose a partner that doesn’t compete for business with you and whose values and company policies align with yours.

In addition to other business owners, you can also partner with influencers and nonprofit organizations. Influencers can mention you in a post on social, but they also can include you in a blog, which is something you can share. Working with a nonprofit not only gets your name out there, it also shows you value community service. Customers will appreciate this and remember it when making a purchase.

Be sure to establish a plan for cross promoting. Will you each write your own posts, or will one write the post while the other shares? Do either of you want to see the posts before they go live? If the partnership is successful, you can use it as an example to others to establish similar arrangements in the future.

  1. Have a contest

Another great way to boost engagement and brand awareness on social media is to have a contest. Hold a sweepstakes amongst people who share one of your posts, or have a photo contest using a special hashtag. Remember, the more engagement a post has, the better chance it has of getting in people’s newsfeeds, so this is a great opportunity to build your brand.

People love getting free stuff, so prizes can vary from promotion to promotion—and your budget. Custom T-shirts and gift cards are both good, inexpensive choices that appeal to a wide audience. You could even offer to make a donation to the charity of the winner’s choice. Be sure your contest is still promoted to your target audience and not just anyone who will enter for free stuff. The goal is to boost your brand and possible make some sales, too, so choose prizes your target audience will like.

Work doesn’t end when the contest is over. If your contest directed people to enter through your website, you can use the information you collected to build on your email list. You also can use the information as additional research into demographics you should target and adjust marketing campaigns accordingly.

As with every strategy, it’s important to measure its progress. Don’t implement several plans at the same time without a plan to keep track of the success of each strategy. This way, you can determine what works best for you and if changes are needed.  Your brand won’t explode on social overnight, but these tips will get you on the right path.

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