Every brand wants a loyal following on social media. But to draw your audience in and create connections with them can often be much easier said than done. Ready to learn how you can do it? Here are eight ways to authentically connect on social media to create a true sense of community around your brand.

1. Engage with your audience. To effectively connect with your audience, you must encourage your followers to engage with your brand and reciprocate by interacting with them as well. You can create opportunities for interaction by inviting your followers to participate in discussions, polls and quizzes. In addition, carve out time to build a community by answering messages, responding to comments, and liking and sharing others’ posts. This will not only promote participation, but you will also be able to gain valuable insights about your audience as well, such as their likes or dislikes, opinions and any concerns they may have.

2. Be consistent with your posting schedule. Social media moves fast, and you don’t want your brand to become a victim of “out of sight, out of mind” thinking. It’s imperative to post consistently on your channels to maintain your social presence. Try starting out with a lower posting schedule that you know you can maintain and work up to your optimal posting amount. Try planning your content and creative assets ahead of time in an editorial calendar, so you are not struggling for ideas or panic posting at the last minute.

3. Be patient. Don’t fall for any schemes that claim to build your following overnight. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you try to grow your social presence too quickly, you are likely fall prey to strategies that are only valuable on the surface. These kinds of tactics don’t actually help you meet your goals or authentically connect with your audience. The only truly effective way to build a sustainable presence is through slower, organic growth.

4. Find your brand voice and stick to it. Beyond your posting schedule, you also need to be consistent with your brand voice in order to attract and retain a community on social. Your brand aesthetic should be similar across all of your various platforms online, from your website and emails to your social media presence. If you switch your approach up too much from one channel to another, your audience will have a harder time identifying with your brand and may become confused. In order to avoid this, once you craft your overall brand voice, stick to it.

5. Make a good first impression. Social media is an open door that leads to new brand discovery. When a potential customer is searching for a new product, one of the first things they will do is look at your social media presence. Your brand only gets one first impression, and you don’t want to lose a potential follower due to bad content. What is your brand’s story? Make sure it’s impactful and true to your organization’s values. And be sure to avoid grammar mistakes and low-quality images.

6. Listen to your audience. Social listening can lead to great success on social media. That’s because it allows you to gather insights on sentiment surrounding your industry and competitors as well as how your audience feels about your brand. Once you have gathered these insights, use them to inform your brand strategy to improve customer satisfaction. If you’re not sure how to get started with social listening, begin by researching topics related to your brand and industry, and gauge audience sentiment on those topics. From there, zero in on your organization and the social activity surrounding it.

7. Create unique content for each platform. It’s important to recognize the difference between repurposing content across platforms and duplicating content across platforms. Repurposing content furthers the value of your already-created content, but duplicating content keeps it the same and doesn’t add any additional value. The problem with duplicating content is that what works on one platform may not resonate with your audience on another. To avoid this, customize your approach to creating content based on the platform you are posting to.

8. Add value. There is a time for promotional posts and a time for interacting with others on social media. In both, it is equally important to share valuable content that contributes to the greater conversation. If you continue to post promotional content that provides no value to your audience, you’re likely to lose followers fast. In order for your audience to be more receptive to trying your product or services, you need to earn their trust. Do this by sharing valuable thought-leadership content and interacting with your audience’s content regularly.

Happy Marketing!