Many small businesses neglect their social media on the grounds that they don’t have many followers and they don’t enough time to do the job justice. But I think that social media is one of the best ways local businesses can build relationships with their customers.

Social media is unique in its ability build and develop relationships online. Through social media, you have a chance to really connect with your current and potential customers, and you shouldn’t throw away the chance to build those bridges.

Here are the best secrets for building connections and fostering growth on social media.

Know your audience

One of the most powerful tools social media can give you is access to and information about your core audience. You may have a target demographic, but your social media demographics will tell you even more about them. Where do they live? What do they like? Social media analytics can tell you.

Once you know your audience, tailor every piece of content you produce to them. Make sure every article you share, every image you post, every single piece of content you publish is aimed at them.

Establish a voice

Since we’re on the subject of tailoring your content, do remember to establish your brand’s tone and voice. For example, if you’re a local tax-preparer you’ll want to establish a different tone than a cupcake store would.

Sit down and identify what your business would sound like if it could talk, and then make sure your content keeps to the style and visual branding that matches that tone. This can be as simple as setting a few ground rules or as complex as making an entire style guide that you share with your staff.

Whatever works for your business!

Don’t censor

If you’re creating an open forum for your product and want to access as many people as possible, it’s important not to get too deep into who likes and dislikes your page. Social media is a tool for your audience as much as it is for you, so don’t be offended or mad if someone leaves a bad review or has a negative reaction.

It’s all part of business, and if you delete negative or critical content, you’re censoring your customers and behaving dishonestly. Worse, this will violate the terms of service on many social media platforms.

Use negative reviews to your advantage! Demonstrate your superior customer service, your efficiency, and your class by responding graciously to criticism. Your responses might impress someone more than a negative review turns them away from your business.

Be relevant

Make sure that the content you’re sharing is useful and interesting to your followers.

If you know your brand and your niche, you should be tailoring your content to that demographic exactly. What do they need? What do they want? What do they like? Your job is to provide them with that content.

RELATED: The 80/20 Rule – Types of content to share on social media

If you’re going to share articles, blog posts, and other content, you must be sure it’s relevant and interesting to justify your business’s continued relevance on a customer’s social media feed.

Bonus points if you can produce your own content on a subject your organization is an expert in. If you know everything there is to know about your field, write a few blog posts about it! You could be useful to a potential customer, impress them, and earn their business.

Not Sure What to Post? Try this.

D-I-Y SOCIAL MEDIA CHECKLIST Sign Up 3

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Create brand ambassadors

A truly loyal customer who’s active on social media can be a walking talking advertisement for your business or product. If you’ve thrilled a customer, they’ll want to tell others about how great your business is.

If there’s a social media user who shows you love online, reward them! Share their content on your platforms, send them some free swag, or even just send them a personal email. This kind of individual attention is so unusual in the social media sphere that you could be turning that person into a customer for life.

All of these tips, if you notice, focus on identifying, refining, and building relationships between you and your customers. Your people are your greatest asset, and social media is a powerful tool when it comes to nurturing the connection between you and them.

Social media doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming, but it should be productive. Know your audience and do everything you can to serve them. The rest is just fluff.

** This was a blog post original written for my client Kangaroo Rewards

Andréa Jones