Consumers spend hours each week on social media. And so do brands — which means it’s increasingly challenging to rise to the top amid the constant onslaught of information we all experience on our favorite platforms.

What you need is a strategy to help you cut away the noise and make your social media presence work for you. Here are a few simple tips to help you make that happen:

1 | Tailor your approach to your audience.

What age group do you want to reach? What are their values and interests? What do they need from you? The answers to those questions will determine on which platforms you’re going to concentrate your branding efforts.

If you’re a visitor bureau and want prospects to experience the visual beauty of your destination, focus on curating compelling photography for your Instagram. (But don’t forget to send Instagram users back to your website for more content!) If your audience skews older, Facebook may be a better bet. If you want to engage in a playful rivalry with other brands (something that can be mutually beneficial, especially if you don’t take yourself too seriously), Twitter is the perfect space for that.

2 | Don’t go too far down the rabbit hole of automation.

Social media tools that automate your posting and help you grow follower counts are essential, but they can’t do everything for you.

Set aside some time each week to visit and interact with accounts maintained by partners, clients, customers and competitors to see what issues are on their mind. Are they talking about something in the news? A social issue or something that’s happening in your industry? The discoveries you make this way will help you create more relevant social posts going forward! (Not to mention, using a hashtag that’s trending in your orbit will put your posts in front of a bigger audience.)

3 | Help people find and recognize you.

If you have a recognizable logo and brand colors (spoiler alert: you should), those need to be prominent in the headers and profile images of every social media platform. Each time you update your brand, bring that change to your socials immediately. Nothing kills potential customer engagement more quickly than an account that looks outdated and inactive. Which brings us to point four:

4 | Look alive.

You’re better off not being on a platform than being inactive on it. Set aside a dedicated chunk of at least 20 minutes each week to write and schedule posts you’ve created based on your weekly research time (see point 2).

On a related note, looking alive also means looking like a real person. Customers will be less interested in engaging with content that feels generic or reads like a bot wrote it. To the extent you’re comfortable, be fun and relatable — even sarcastic or self-deprecating! (Pro tip: making jokes at your own expense usually goes over well.)

5 | Make it worth people’s while to keep checking in with you.

It’s all very well to get a potential customer’s eyeballs once, but how do you keep them? One useful strategy is to host giveaways and contests on social media. Contests in particular keep people engaged and might give you valuable intel — think something like, “tell us five things you need for your dream vacation and you might win a free stay at [insert local hotel]”.

Want more advice on how to make your brand shine both online and in print? Email to get the conversation started.