Whether you are a frequent user or not, there is no denying the seismic impact that social media has had on the way in which we communicate with one another.

As of April 2016, there are now more than 1.5 billion people on Facebook alone, meaning more than one in every seven people across the entire world have an account.

This developing form of communication and interaction is affecting the way in which we consume just about every form of information, from newspaper articles to Vine’s, from gifs to audio.

This new form of consumption has also changed the way in which products, concepts and ideas can be marketed, offered and endorsed.

So, whether you run a business, a blog or are a freelance artist, you really need to be as clued up as possible to get the greatest benefit possible from social media.

So how do you harness these platforms to the best of your ability? Here’re 5 top tips for social media success.

1. Build Relationships

The great advantage social media has over traditional advertising is that you can speak directly to people once something has posted.

Interacting with your customers, other businesses or people of interest gives you that upper hand in appearing much more human, something which everyone appreciates.

Whilst traditional networking takes a lot of time out of your busy schedule, you can build relationships with clients, customers and your wider audience from anywhere through social media; be that on the train, at home or even from the gym!

2. Vary The Content You Post

No matter your business or trade, it’s important to vary the content which you post on social media channels.

The bottom line is that whether you are a butchers or a sports retailer, a variety of content is important.

While simple text posts are appropriate for short and snappy important messages, it’s best to compliment any message with a related image, GIF or vine if applicable.

On top of this, the use of video is essential in generating shares and retweets as they are much more digestible to the average social media user than a 150-word post.

It’s important to understand what makes us share on social media and devise a strategy and action plan which takes this into account. Don’t think anyone wants to share your business’ content? Rubbish! Get creative and you’ll soon find you develop your own winning formula.

3. Be Consistent In Your Efforts

While it’s vital to get across all platforms with a variety of content, it is important to remain consistent with both the amount of things you post and what you post.

Posting too regularly can annoy people who follow you, and could well see a drop-off in followers, while posting too little will reduce your chances of interaction and drawing in new interest.

Clearly, a number of weekly posts differs for everyone, so you need to work out a happy medium for your particular account and industry.

Work out what people engage with most and what content struggles. If certain posts fail to draw in any interaction after a number of attempts, consider cutting them.

Once you’ve worked out what content works, be consistent with posting them across all platforms. It’s pointless having an active Twitter page but a quiet Facebook page, as there’s a good chance your audience use both.

4. Use Analytics To Learn What Works (& What Doesn’t)

In the above point, we stressed the importance of analysing which posts are successful and which aren’t. This is vital, because without analysing your output, you won’t know what is resonating with people.

There are lots of sites and software you can get your hands on, one of the most prominent being Google Analytics, which do all the hard work for you. All you have to do is consider the stats they provide, and make an executive decision on your posting process.

5. Don’t Overdo It

You can almost try too hard when trying to achieve success on social media, so there is a delicate balance you should attempt to find.

Firstly, depending on your business, you shouldn’t see this as a platform to openly market your services or products. Social media is a place to generate a following and engage with people who may sound with you in the future.

Social platforms give you a great opportunity to sell yourselves, not your products, so use it to show how likeable, helpful and professional you are as a service provider.

Secondly, don’t assume tactics like click-bait particularly work. Potentially five years ago it might have, however, social users are much more literate than they were then, and it only really screams of desperation.

Here’s an interesting article on the rise (and fall) of click bait.

At the end of the day, social media can be a fantastic way for businesses to build relationships with their customers as well as forging new one. It’s not a direct sales tool, and never will be, however ultimately, it’s a platform which shouldn’t be ignored and time should be spent learning what works and what doesn’t.