It’s so important these days for small businesses to have a strong social media presence. Why? Because it’s where your customers are, and it’s where they go to learn more about your business and see how you interact with your audience.

From best practices to new platforms, social media is constantly evolving, and it can be incredibly difficult and time consuming for small business owners to keep up with. However, in order to get the most out of your social media marketing and set yourself apart from your competitors, there are a few things you should definitely be doing.

Learn About New Platforms

Many small businesses know and are already utilizing Facebook, but what about the other social media channels out there? Platforms like Instagram, Twitter and YouTube can help propel your social media marketing forward. Take the time to learn about some of the different social platforms and determine which ones make the most sense for your unique business. If a large portion of your target audience is utilizing a certain channel, then your business should be too.

Create Unique Content

There is arguably nothing more valuable than creating unique, engaging content for your audience. Do some research and think about some of the more interesting posts you’ve seen by your favorite brands or local businesses. You can also look to your competition and see the variations of content they are posting. When it comes to content, you want to think outside of the box and really tap into your target audience’s emotions and find ways to engage with them.

Ask a Professional

There’s so much to learn about social media, especially if you’re only just starting out. And there are tons of professionals out there who’ve been in the game and know what consumers are looking for. It might be wise to reach out to someone to gain some insight into your social media marketing plan. Do some research and ask those you trust if they have anyone they can recommend. Although there will likely be a cost associated with this, the value of the knowledge you’ll gain is immeasurable, and can help you grow your business tremendously.

Put a Plan Together

Once you’ve determined which social media channels you’d like to focus on, you should put together a plan for creating content and posting it. The key to social media is consistency, it more than likely won’t pay off if you’re just posting here and there whenever you have time. There needs to be a schedule in place that is consistent and thorough. If you’re hesitant on where to begin, Hootsuite offers an entire guide on how to create a social media strategy.

Research, Research, Research

If you’re planning on tackling this operation either by yourself or in-house with little to no experience, then it’s important to do your research. Although it can be time consuming, it’s important to understand all the different components of social media, and how you can put together a social media marketing plan that will help you achieve your goals. If you’re going to utilize social media, do it right, and be committed to it. Otherwise, it’s likely that you won’t gain any benefits from it and will have wasted your time.