If you have a business, no matter the size, you need to be using social media to improve customer relations, raise awareness of your business, and offer customer service. When social media was first created it was more of a distraction for users, but now business use it to get ahead and to close deals. If you’re not sure where to start in the daunting world of social media you can follow these steps to incorporate it into your business plan and succeed.

Figure Out Your Strategy

You need to decide why you will be using social media before you jump in with both feet. Figure out which platform best fits your business and learn how to use it well before you branch out to other social media platforms. For example, Facebook is very personal, Twitter is fast and easy to respond to, and Google+ is best for tech business. Find your niche and learn it well.

Make Practical Decisions

Signing up for a social media account without a plan isn’t a smart move. Prospective customers who search for your business and are met with a blank page will be discouraged. Before you create your account think about who you will follow, how you will interact with other users, and what kind of content you will be sharing on your account.

Stay Aware of your Metrics, Tracking, and Milestones

Without ways to measure the success or failure of your social media accounts, you will have no way to check and see if what you are doing is working in your favor. Download software that will help you keep up with all of this information and then use it to make sure that you are improving your online presence by increasing followers, retweets, and visitors.

Use Imagery

Posts that contain high-quality imagery are usually more likeable. Using striking photography in your posts will draw more people to see them and to share them, increasing your visibility online. Whether you use Facebook, Twitter, or some other social media platform, having great photographs that go along with your posts is one of the fastest ways to draw people’s attention.

Don’t Be Afraid to Start Fresh

If you don’t seem to be making any headway with your social media accounts or haven’t gained any new followers (this is why you have to track this information!) you may need to reboot your efforts and start fresh. While this is frustrating, it can be the difference between success and failure. Spinning your wheels won’t get you anywhere, but analyzing why you have failed and then reworking your efforts will help you improve your online presence.

Remember: no business is too small or too large to have an effective social media plan. Gone are the days where businesses could thrive on word-of-mouth and repeat customers. Now they need to focus on providing high-quality services and products to everyone as well as keep up their online presence. Well-run social media accounts can help you interact with customers, put out fires if you have any, and reach more people than ever before, making social media one of the most important parts of your business plan.