There are many skills a business owner must have, but the social media savvy entrepreneur is aware of everything from the newest ways to expand Instagram followers to the best social media platform for reaching his target audience. If you’re looking for a little help in sharpening your social media marketing skills, we have some ideas for you.

Knowing how and where to build a strong social media presence is the critical first step.

Most business owners will jump to Facebook as their first social media platform. With over a billion daily users active on this social media channel, Facebook will provide one of the largest pools of potential consumers for generating your first audience. The development of a business profile is easy and painless, as is managing your account overall. It’s important, however, to be strategic with Facebook, especially as you begin to consider how to develop organic content, target your audience, and maintain ongoing engagement with your followers.

While Facebook is a staple to business marketing, Instagram is currently the fastest growing network in the social media arena. Because of its emphasis on visual marketing, brands are finding that it allows them to aesthetically showcase their product and service, especially when targeting younger considers. Understanding the demographics, features, and hashtag use of Instagram is an important part of choosing to use this channel to increase your social media presence.

For savvy business owners, using social media means knowing which platforms are best suited for your purposes. With hundreds of social media apps available and brand new ones popping up daily businesses may be at a loss to know which ones are best and may be tempted to engage with many (or all!) of them, creating a overwhelming amount of work that includes making daily Facebook or Twitter posts that are less than productive in their results. Find the networks that closely align with your brand’s image and your company’s goals, reducing the amount of time and effort required to make real progress. Promote your sites by informing business associates, employees, and even social media users of the new platform you are launching.

Understanding the value and cost of social media is the second step.

It’s not always easy to know the value of a like or comment to your overall business plan. It is difficult to assess the importance of a retweet on Twitter or a mention on Instagram. While you may know there is value to your business when you focus on traffic that is generated and the increased awareness of your brand within your social marketing strategy, understanding the outcomes are often trickier than one might think. Business owners invest a great deal of time and effort (and often money!) into developing and maintaining profiles on various social media accounts, but what is the return on that investment?

Social media is more than social. Social media is an exceptional way to build awareness for your brand. The reach you can get on social media is excellent, and because many consumers find your brand through trusted sources like friends and family, your business builds credibility. Social media allows you opportunities to tell your brand story, which is a major aspect and driving force behind consumer loyalty and purchasing power.

Using content first marketing strategies is an important third step.

Successful business owners in the social media arena are using a content-first strategy. This means that they provide interesting copy and aesthetically pleasing content on their social media channels to first introduce their customers to the brand before attempting to sell them the product or service. They understand and capitalize on the opportunity to help consumers buy into their brand, their company’s mission and vision, and promote their backstory. Giving customers a reason to engage provides a greater possibility for long-term loyalty and repeat consumers. This may mean writing and promoting a blog, sharing interesting and relevant content, and developing consumer-driven content on your business website. Your story and your integrity as a trustworthy business owner are among your company’s most important business assets.

Being aware that social media can improve customer service is a final step.

While the goal of social media is often generating traffic, getting noticed, increasing brand awareness, and improving sales, nothing will expand your business and attract consumers to your brand like providing the best in customer service. Social media can provide opportunities for consumers to promote your product or service and create user-generated content that lets your customers know you are a real person behind the screen.

If you use social media for sales, offer plenty of payment options, and streamline your cart building and checkout processes. For many people, the purchase experience is more important than the price point, so companies that are concerned with their consumers are easily able to inspire loyalty and repeat sale. Use the review tabs on Facebook to show you care and leverage them strategically. Be responsive to positive feedback, and deal quickly with any issues to resolve them satisfactorily.

What are some things you think business owners should know about social media? Feel free to share here.