We all think we’re experts when using social media. After all, we use it for not just personal reasons, but professionally as well. Social media is used by every company and should be used by every executive out there if they want to stay relevant, find an audience or communicate with their existing customers. However, just because you have multiple social media accounts doesn’t mean you’re an expert. There’s plenty you can still learn. Not knowing how to effectively use social media can be detrimental – not just for your business, but also for your brand.

Here are 5 lessons brands can apply to their social media strategy:

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

Humans are visual creatures by nature and images can be that one ingredient that can catapult your brand into the stratosphere – not to mention they can have a huge impact on social engagement. Visual content gets 94% more total views and 40% are more likely to be shared across social networks.

Make no mistake, it just can’t be any image that you find appealing. If no one else finds it appealing or connects with it, you just made a big mistake. The images you choose to represent your brand ought to be diverse and eye-catching – in order to have a direct connection to your audience. Having an effective picture or image on social media will make it easier to spot in news feed, too. And if a picture is worth 1000 words, a video is worth 10,000 pictures.

For example, coffee giant Starbucks is known for creating high-quality promotional content on social media that allows them to effectively upsell and promote without feeling like you’re being advertised to. That type of subtleness definitely fits into the “less is more” category. You don’t need flashy and over the top to get your customers to notice you.

Does Your Brand Inspire?

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much content you publish. What matter is what the content is. In order to produce quality content, you must know your audience, almost as well as you know yourself (or your company). Part of knowing your audience is knowing their likes and dislikes and understand what their interests are, what excites them and what turns them off. The content needs to reflect not just your product but also the greater idea and values of your product.

A perfect example of this is Red Bull. The energy drink brand gets a pretty sizable per-post engagement on Instagram, despite having fewer Instagram posts than any of its other social networks. What makes their content great is the sharp focus on two of their core values: action and inspiration. The brand is known for showcasing people doing extraordinary things; therefore, catering to risk takers, recreational athletes and anyone looking for inspiration in unlikely places. How can your brand inspire?

Does Your Brand Provide Value?

I’ve already mentioned brands like Starbucks and Red Bull, but here’s the kicker. You don’t have to be a big brand to have a big impact. Heck, you don’t even have to be considered a “sexy” brand to provide pizzazz. Not every industry is sexy, but every industry provides value. If you weren’t providing some value for someone, you wouldn’t be in business right now. So, if you feel your industry (or brand) lacks sparkle, figure out the needs and wants of your audience and deliver the type of content that caters to that specific need.

But how does one provide value? Data. People love data and brands should use that data to identify trends that are of value to your audience. Once you find that data, make it relatable to your audience. Remember, not everyone is a numbers person and not everyone might be an industry expert. Digest that information for them as well. Not only will that help your audience garner a deeper understanding of your brand (or company), but in their eyes you have provided them with great customer service. This is something every industry should excel at. By going the extra mile, you’ve ensured you have a few happier customers in your midst.

Show, Don’t Tell

Show and tell might’ve worked great in elementary school, but sometimes all talk and little action can be a major turn-off for some. What do I mean by this? It’s simple, actually. The information you show your customers through your social media channels should be easily understood. If your customers need to take the extra step of going to a website in order to understand what you’re trying to say, you’ll probably lose their interest…fast! People have short memories and even less time to waste, keep that in mind as you communicate with your customers.

Projecting a clear vision of your brand’s values will go a long way with your customers. If your messaging is not clear, no one will care about your brand. In order to get your customers engaged, you must walk the walk. If you’re a brand that cares about the environment, your social media content should reflect this passion. Whatever your passion is, make sure it is properly, and clearly, reflected throughout all your social media channels.

We all know the Coca-Cola brand – whether you drink soda or not. Their now iconic commercials during the holiday season about bringing people together drove their brand’s message home, not to mention their numerous other campaigns and causes. Their message of optimism, generosity and goodwill were incredibly well-received and transcended through every audience group, whether they used their product or not. This is a clear example of a brand stating their passions, clearly and openly, and using them to connect with consumers.

Put Your Customers Front & Center

The purpose of social media is to connect, at some level, with other humans. Brands must do everything in their power to connect, and engage, with their customers. Sometimes that connection is featuring your customers’ stories. If your product had a major impact in someone’s life, feature them on your social media channels. Everyone out there is a consumer of goods – from CEOs to delivery people and everything in between. That personal connection with your brand can only reap you benefits and can help have a more in-depth understanding of how your customers are using your brand. No two customers are alike, so why must they use your product or service the same way?

It’s a common misconception that brands need to be active on every social media platform out there in order to cast a wider net. That is not the case. If you’re expecting a massive influx of customers to sing your praises or tons of new business opportunities, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Building trust takes time. You must remember you’re looking to build a long-term relationship with your audience and on social media, there’s no such thing as overnight success. Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Your customers expect one-to-one interactions with your brand every day, and many of those interactions are happening on social media. Download The Business Leader’s Guide to Becoming a Social Business to optimize your social presence.