By: Rheanna Bernard

Social media has become the way to go for businesses looking to increase their exposure. Gone are the days of extensive ad campaigns in magazines and on television. With a growing number of people turning to this digital platform for just about everything, making sure you are in the mix has become a top priority for small businesses, large businesses, and entrepreneurs alike. So, how exactly do you do that? We’ve got a few steps to get you going in the right direction.

1. Decide Your Goal.

First and foremost, you have to figure out what your purpose is. Are you selling a product? Do you want people to visit your website or blog? Maybe you want to sell a product, but you also want to curate a space that inspires people or creates a community where people talk about things—other than your product. All of that is great! Decide on your goal and focus on it as your step one.

2. Give the People What They Want.

Once you’ve decided your goal and started creating content, you have to develop a strategy to sync with the needs of your clients or audience. It doesn’t mean that your goals and their needs have to be identical all the time, but as you see what content really engages them, develop more of that.

3. Engagement Is Key.

You can post pictures and give status updates all day long, but if no one is responding to them you have zero engagement. Engagement starts with you. Start conversations with your readership not only on your social media, but on theirs as well. If someone leaves you a comment or replies to your InstaStories, it’s important that you respond right away. Seek readers and clients where they are at. Look for someone who likes similar things to what you are providing and develop a relationship with them through their social media.

4. Use Hashtags to Find Your People.

Hashtags are a great tool for spreading your message past your current viewership. Including them in your tweets and in your Instagram posts could attract new followers and clients when they use the search feature. Hashtags can also be used to help you find them. Look for people and brands using the same hashtags that you are and engage with them. Every hashtag is an opportunity.

5. Humanize Your Feed.

People want to relate to the people they are following on social media. They want to know they are following a real person, regardless of how big the brand is. Throwing in more “humanizing” images and posts that are still on brand can be a great benefit to you.

6. Perks Are Always Helpful.

People love a perk. Whether that be a prize giveaway, printable, download of a recipe, or a coupon code, consider utilizing these bonuses every once in a while to shake things up and get a quick increase in followers. After you do this, it is important to look back on the previous points to keep those new followers.

7. Integrate ALL Your Social Media Channels.

One of my favorite things to do is talk about my Pinterest account on my other social media. Pinterest provides a wider net for you to cast. You might post a ton about fashion, but if you’re a mom, maybe you can reach other followers by pinning about children’s clothing or even mom fashion. It’s a great place to expand your brand slightly while staying on point. The same idea applies to all your channels. Encourage your followers to visit your other social media channels because, while you might be posting some images on Instagram, maybe the meat of what you post is on your Facebook page.

8. Collaborate.

Collaboration is probably one of the best tools you can use when trying to expand your social media presence. Working together with other brands who have similar communities leads to great exposure. Bloggers are great partners because they have an established audience who goes to them for recommendations and information. When readers see them using a product, they may be more likely to try it themselves. Create hashtags for a collaboration campaign, and others will start using it. Combine collaboration with a perk for your readers, and you’re really golden!