The Internet and social media have reshaped the world as we know it. There were 2.46 billion social media users in 2017, and it’s set to grow to 2.95 billion by 2020. With so many active users chatting, expressing opinions, seeking information, or just passing time, social media provides countless opportunities to help you grow your business.

However, with so much competition and those everchanging algorithms to contend with, it’s becoming harder and harder to stand out and gain a following. In order to maximize brand awareness and be successful on social media, you’ll need to implement a strategy with clear objectives. There are still ways to boost your growth, even if you don’t have the staff or budget of bigger brands.

Target Audience

You need to know who you are talking to when you post. Defining and understanding your audience will allow you to connect with and serve them better. Not everyone on social media will be looking for your product or service; don’t waste time and money on people who are just not interested. When you have built up a solid base of engaged followers, you can test different formats and topics to discover what they respond to best.

Trends

Become part of the current conversation. No matter your industry, there will almost always be at least one hot topic that affects your audience. Start a discussion on that trending story to capitalize on its popularity and help your brand reach a broader audience. People tend to engage more heavily and share more widely when the content relates to something they’re passionate about.

Content

Your social media accounts are only as good as the content you post. Focus on quality over quantity: five poor posts in one day will just make people switch off or unfollow, but one thoughtful, relevant post will resonate with your audience and be shared. Sharing isn’t just free advertising backed by word of mouth—it also shows you that you’re posting the kind of content your audience likes and responds to.

Visual

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is cliché but true. You can convey a lot with an image, and even more with a video. Humans process visual scenes in less than 1/10 of a second; 90% of information processed by our brains is visual. So make it easy for your prospective fans by using videos and image-heavy content. Videos are currently seeing exponential growth—one-third of online activity is spent watching videos, and Facebook gives preference to video posts (so it’s a great way to increase your page’s organic reach).

Influencer marketing

Social media influencers are people or brands with large numbers of engaged followers. Working with influencers is a great way to increase your brand awareness quickly, because they have already built up an audience that fits your company’s product or service. You’ll have the most success if you seek out influencers whose message and audience closely align with yours (but of course, make sure they’re not a direct competitor).

Reporting

Track everything you can on social media. That way, when you test new topics or formats, you can look over the results, see what worked, and decide what to change and what to repeat. For example, try out five different influencers and give each of them a unique tracking code to promote. This will allow you to see which ones drive the most sales.

Reporting can also show you what type of posts get the most engagement or shares from your followers. Perhaps your audience is more likely to share videos than click on a link; now you know to focus on video content.

There are many tools out there to help you with tracking and reporting, from free options like Google Analytics to paid ones such as Kissmetrics.

In summary

It takes time to build up brand awareness on social media. There’s no magic formula that works overnight; you’ll need to take the time, try things out, and learn what your audience responds to. But if you put in consistent effort and follow the advice above, you will look back in a year and be surprised by how much your following (and your business!) has grown.