Companies and brands everywhere know they need to have a presence on social media, but do they know why?

It is a legitimate question and one that can't be easily answered with a blanket statement. However, if there is a rule of thumb for businesses on social media channels, it's that it's the cheapest and easiest way to open a direct line of communication with customers.

That certainly doesn't scratch the surface when it comes to HOW to communicate, but thinking of social media as a means of two-way communication rather than using a bullhorn will get most brands on the right path to an effective social media strategy.

Here are five things to consider when creating a social media identity and strategy:

Find a voice

Every brand should take the right tone in communicating with its customers. This voice should be crafted by talking to customers, staff, owners, and other stake holders to get their impression of the company and what makes it appealing. A music shop will have a different tone than, say, a business that sells medical equipment. Find your voice and your effectiveness will increase exponentially.

Become an expert

Find ways to position your company as an expert in the field. Create videos that demonstrate your knowledge in your field. Curate content from other sources that show you're in agreement with other experts in your field. Get yourself published in an outside media source that you can then link to your own site. There are several ways in which to present yourself as an expert. You'll be sure to reap the benefit of your expert status!

Offer something useful

This should be the easiest thing on this list. Every business has something useful to offer customers. I'm not talking about a coupon here. I'm talking about a freebie. We're not giving away the farm here, we're only doing something that helps generate further interest in your business and motivates customers to shell out some cash at your register. If you're a restaurant, how about a short recipe video? If you're a gym, what about a short workout? This strategy shows off your products in a way that isn't "marketing." It also helps your efforts to become an expert in your field. Perhaps most importantly, it opens a way for customers to provide you with some positive feedback about your business.

Create value

Creating value on your social media channels should be a pretty easy task. Information about upcoming events at your business has value to your customers. Offering a reward for following you on social media such as an exclusive deal or discount certainly has value. There is a myriad of ways in which to provide value to your customers. Find one that works and utilize it as often as you can. Value gives customers a reason to follow you on social media, but it also gives them a reason to KEEP following you, and that's the ultimate goal!

Be consistent

All of the above items are for naught if you're not consistent in your social media marketing efforts. Plan a week ahead and put together your posts. Utilize a scheduling tool such as Hootsuite or Buffer - both of which have free tiers that work well for small businesses - and put your message in front of as many people as possible. The worst thing your business can do is go silent for extended periods of time. Consistency is the key to your message showing up in the news feeds of your customers. Give your customers something to look forward to from your brand on social media every day and they'll give you something to look forward to when you open your bank statements!

Social media marketing is a cost-effective method of reaching your customers and, more importantly, potential customers. However, being effective means using the ideas outlined above and others to help you position yourself above all the noise on social media. With a little planning and thought, your company can be at the top of the heap sooner rather than later!

If you'd like some help in steering your company in the right direction, please contact us at info@impulsarmarketing.com and visit ImpulsarMarketing.com to learn more about us. We'd love to discuss your plans and goals and find a way to help you reach them!