It’s a rare week that goes by when I don’t get an email about increasing social media exposure. Between edge rank on Facebook, the high-speed nature of Twitter, and countless other issues with social media it can be a real challenge to do well. Fortunately, we are finally at a point where most business owners are understanding how important it is to engage with their customers, the problem is that they aren’t sure how.

Engaging well on social media is a topic that fills entire books, but here are a few simple tips that can help get you started on the right path.

1. Don’t be afraid to ask your followers for a share

It really is that simple. Adding a please share or retweet to a post or tweet can increase your reach dramatically. It seems so simple, yet most people don’t even think about sharing something that isn’t a cat photo or political cartoon. But when you actually ask them, the number of people that do can be significant.

We ran a series of tests on Facebook where the number of likes and shares increased as much as 30% just by asking. This doesn’t mean that you should just tack “Please Share” at the end of every post. Use it sparingly. Follow Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice in Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, give to your audience more often than you ask. It makes them far more willing to help when they are a part of your tribe rather than just a customer list.

Social Media Sharing Icons

2. Pick one (or two) social media platforms to be ‘best’ at

Unless you have a massive social media team you can drive yourself crazy trying to be everywhere. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and even Google Plus can be impossible to manage by yourself and do all of them equally well. What happens most often is that you find yourself linking your profiles together and making a single post that is simply replicated in most places. This is a terrible experience for your followers.

Add to that, not every social media site reaches the same demographics and niches so your customers may not even be there. Rather than trying to be on all the places, pick one or two (most people pick two, Facebook and one other) and focus on those until you have a large enough following that is truly engaged with you. It will be a much more satisfying experience for you and your followers.

But, be sure to register on all of the sites when you start out. The last thing you want is to have someone take your name while you are working on other areas of your social media exposure.

3. Post in the site’s native format

This is closely related to the above tip of picking just one or two social media sites to participate in. While most social sites are similar in a lot of ways, each of them has their own unique delivery method. Twitter has its 140 character limit, Instagram has its squared of images and filters and Facebook can be a combination of rectangular images, text, and video.

It’s easy to link all of these sites together so that when you post on one you post on all, or most, of the others. But continued abuse of this tactic will turn off your followers because they aren’t seeing your message in a format that fits well with the current site and what the people there expect to see. On Facebook they expect images to be formatted in a specific way (wider than they are tall) while on Pinterest they are formatted differently (taller than they are wide).

Tumblr and Facebook lend themselves to long-form content that can be scheduled while Twitter is a more real-time, short format, event-driven medium. You also want to be careful about using some automated tools and jumping into trending topics without truly understanding what they are about. DiGiorno Pizza learned this the hard way when their social media team tried to be humorous and jump in the #whyistayed trend on Twitter in 2014.

4. Follow your vendors, manufacturers, and suppliers on social media.

I discovered this simple trick quite some time ago and am constantly amazed that more retail outlets don’t do this. When you are on Facebook or any other social media site, follow your vendors. Then, when you promote a product you source from them you can tag them in that post. When you do that they can an alert telling them what you did and more often than not they will share and favorite that mention. It’s good for them for the exposure their product gets,  and it’s good for you for the new followers you might gain that follow your vendor.

Everyone wins!

5. Bonus Tip

Use the appropriate hashtag where ever possible. Hashtags help ties themes and trends together. By taking advantage of hashtags you have a better opportunity to get your message in front of potential fans and customers. We will be putting together an expanded blog post about hashtags and trends in a future blog post.