It’s easy to spend a lot of time and effort on social media and see nothing in return if you’re not using it strategically. But smart use of social media can pay off, says Lori Gurka, a social media expert who manages online marketing for BCLS LLC in Richmond, Virginia.

“Offers via Facebook for your area are free and can be used multiple times. It’s the same with Twitter. Instagram has become the place to showcase your projects with videos or even grids of pictures to show your work.”

Here are some tips to make social media work for you:

  • Update your social media often to keep your audience engaged with your page.
  • Don’t be afraid to show your human side in your marketing. You and your people are the biggest assets to your company brand.
  • If you’re new to social media, focus on one platform to start with. Know your ideal client, and choose the one where they are most likely to hang out. Try Facebook or Instagram if you serve a residential market; LinkedIn and Twitter are great ways to connect with commercial customers.
  • Post appropriate content for the platform you are using. Human interest updates and casual snapshots of employees, family and even pets are cool on Facebook. On LinkedIn? Not so much. Stick to strictly business updates and portfolio shots for the world’s largest business networking site.
  • Posting eye-catching and exciting content encourages sharing. This can be as simple as close-up photos of in-season blooms to more elaborate content like drone videos.
  • Ask your followers questions to increase engagement.
  • Plan ahead so you don’t run out of ideas. Gurka suggests creating a content calendar for each month, using one topic a week.
  • Remember that social media is all about community. If you go there, be prepared to engage with your customers. They will expect to use it as a customer service channel, too, so once you’re on social media be sure to stay on top of it.

Social media is also a great way to boost the reach of your offline promotions. For example, when BCLS sponsored the local minor league baseball team, Gurka shared a picture of the company’s promotional sign in the stadium along with the post, “BCLS LLC is the proud grounds maintenance team of the @GoSquirrels.” The use of the hashtag helps maximize their reach across social media. “People search for the Richmond Squirrels? They see a blurb about BCLS being the landscaping company of the team,” she says.