A great website is the first step in creating a strong online business. However, if you want to increase your reach and spread brand awareness, you need a strong social media strategy.

Brands can’t hope to make it without social media. It’s where billions of people spend hours of their free time every month. Through advertisements, shares, posts, comments, and more on various social networks, businesses can connect with consumers and develop a stronger social following.

However, social media doesn’t do a business much good if they don’t have proper engagement with their consumers. Too many organizations use outdated tactics that do little for the promotion of their website. Today, successful social media engagement is a mix of great customer service and the use of digital tools.

Here are some strategies you should apply.

  1. Monitor Social Activity with Digital Tools

The best social strategies involve constant attention in which you monitor your social media activity and the activity of your competitors. There are a variety of tools and software for this, including Hootsuite, HowSociable, TweetReach, Klout, Social Mention, and IceRocket.

You can also utilize the power of a hashtag. You can track anything people say about your brand, an event your brand is sponsoring, or a certain topic.

  1. Feature Fans and Their Special Moments

Fans love being the center of attention, and you can do this by featuring them in your content. Highlight a loyal customer by sharing their post if they mentioned your brand. You can also share photos of customers doing business with you.

One of the best ways to highlight fans is to celebrate with them during milestones. For example, you could congratulate graduates of a local high school or community college. You might also congratulate a loyal customer who recently got engaged, posting a picture of that sparkling vintage engagement ring. These little highlights mean a lot to your customers and encourage their loyalty.

  1. Get More Creative with Posts

Use your social page as an opportunity to really think outside the box. Everyone posts images and text to their social pages, so it’s easy for users to ignore this content as they scroll. Try posting more interactive content with a higher entertainment value to catch attention.

A contest, for example, can incentivize greater interaction for a time, which will raise awareness of your brand long term. Set the rules for the contest, and then promote it regularly through both your website and social channels to maintain client attention.

  1. Utilize User-Generated Content

To get your fans talking more on your page, allow them to be the creators of the content. Doing so offers built-in word-of-mouth marketing and a convenient way to create trust with your audience. However, it’s one of the most difficult kinds of content to generate.

Contests are usually very successful in generating user content. Hold a contest to help you create a new product or offer a prize, like the Starbucks coffee cup design contest.  You could also offer a monthly prize for a follower who posts the best picture of themselves using your product or services.

  1. Take Advantage of Videos

Did you know that users on Facebook alone watch more than 100 million hours of videos every day? The same research shows that 82 percent of Twitter users watch videos on Twitter, and videos on any network tend to create 10 times the engagement of any other post. Videos around 90 seconds that tell a story or offer entertainment are by far the most successful videos on social media.

Live videos are also growing in popularity. Facebook Live makes it easy to share moments in real time, offering insights into an event or sharing information about a product or service. Videos in any form are some of the best ways to create lasting engagement on social media.

  1. Schedule Social Messages

Automation is huge in today’s social media realm. You can schedule posts ahead of time, saving time and getting your posts in front of people at the right moment. Here’s some of the research supporting the best times for scheduling your social posts:

  • 80 percent of the world’s population lives in the central and eastern time zones.
  • Saturday and Sunday posts tend to receive higher engagement, with Thursday and Friday in second place.
  • Early afternoon is the best time to post your content.
  • Facebook receives the most interaction, so the time of day that’s best depends on the audience.

Getting your content out there at the right time is one of the best ways to help customers hear your message and give your target audience an opportunity to respond.

  1. Post More Often

You might also consider increasing your posting frequency. Research shows that your organic reach on Facebook can grow by 65 percent just by posting an extra time each week.

It’s recommended that you post at least once a day on Facebook and several times per day on Twitter. As a small business, it’s not always easy to keep up with this, but do your best. Posting more often leads to the best social engagement for your website.