All businesses can connect with their target audience on social media. You need to take time to understand where your audience is as well as their expectations. There are fundamental principles to follow.

Keep in mind that transparency and authenticity count for a lot in social media. You need to be real or your efforts will fail.

Embrace the fact that there will always be emerging technologies and ideas that you will need to evaluate along the way. Your plan today probably won’t be your plan six months from now.

Have a Strategy

Without a plan, you are just spending time and money on social media. You need a plan to define what you want to accomplish (your goal) and the best ways to reach that goal.

A good plan starts with research into your marketing goals, your competitors, and your target audience. The more deeply you understand each, the more prepared you can be to engage on social media.

Be Human

You are representing a brand, a business so it is easy to forget to be human. But you are a person and so is everyone who you will connect with on social media.

People respond to business that are willing to engage as themselves, not logos, promotional messages, and corporate speak.

Be kind. Be generous. Be yourself. Honesty and personality will get you everywhere on social media.

Adopt a Long Range Mindset

Social media is so immediate that it is easy to think that results should be instantaneous. You want more leads and have tweeted 10 times, so they should be rolling in. Wrong.

While you will need to engage on social regularly, developing relationships online that achieve your goals typically takes months if not years. Stick with it and you won’t be disappointed.

Embrace Two-Way Communication

Don’t forget the social part of social media. Don’t just post and walk away. Monitor what your followers are saying and doing and interact with their content, too.

Thank them for following you. Ask how you can help them. Speak to their needs and interests, not yours. Give them praise and kudos. Show them how much you appreciate the time they’re taking to connect with you.