Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay.

Research shows that online platforms like Facebook and Twitter have cemented themselves in the lives of consumers by providing a way for them to discover new brands and engage with companies that share their values and that can help them meet their needs both at home and in business. According to a recent Harris Poll commissioned by Sprout Social, some 55% of consumers say they use social media to learn about new brands, and 78% said they’re more willing to buy from a company after having a positive experience with them on social media.

Social Media for Business Owners

As a business owner, you may think you have social media covered. After all, your company has likely developed a solid digital marketing strategy focused on fostering engagement and drawing in new followers to your corporate accounts.

But there’s a strong case to be made for you to complement your company’s efforts on social media with a public, personal profile that puts your best foot forward. For one, social media provides a free and effective way for business owners to promote their companies and boost their credibility.

Here are four other ways you can use personal social media pages to your advantage as a leader in business:

  1. As a business owner, you are your company’s biggest cheerleader. Sharing videos highlighting new products or touting recent sales wins on your LinkedIn page shows your passion and commitment to your job.
  2. You have the chance to engage directly and instantaneously with current and potential customers, employees, peers, and investors, including by responding to questions and clarifying or amplifying company messages.
  3. Building relationships online can help you strengthen and leverage your professional network to garner support for a wide range of business initiatives.
  4. Asking questions and requesting feedback via social media is a quick and cost-effective way to gain insight into evolving trends and emerging issues.

Optimizing Your Social Media Efforts

When you decide to step out onto the social media stage, there’s a lot to take into consideration. Developing and implementing a well-thought-out strategy can help you optimize your efforts while reducing the risk of making very public missteps in your communication.

Here are seven ways strategies to try to stay grounded as you start building your personal social media strategy:

  1. Collaborate with your in-house social media marketing personnel—even if that means you! Whatever strategy you do employ should complement the efforts of your business communications. For example, you might try coordinating the timing of business-related announcements or cross-posting content like images and resources.
  2. Decide on which platforms you want to use. You don’t need to be active on every social media site that’s out there. Before jumping in, consider which platforms would best allow you to connect with both customers and peers. Which do you find the most interesting? What kind of content do you enjoy most? Where is your target audience spending their time?
  3. Identify and cater to your target audience. Once you decide to go public on social media, it’s important to do your research to ensure you’re actually reaching the demographics you hope to target. Join relevant groups on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, and keep an eye on what others are posting so you can share content that’s both timely and trendy.
  4. Consider keeping some channels private. It’s never a good idea to share something online that you wouldn’t want seen publicly. Still, sometimes it’s nice to be able to share a funny quote or a collection of family photos with just your inner circle. For times like these, consider keeping a private account on one or more platforms instead of or in addition to your public persona.
  5. Be authentic. It’s glaringly obvious when you’re not being true to your personality and your personal values online. Every post you make doesn’t need to be perfect, but they should all be honest and provide a fair reflection of your position on the topic or issue at hand.
  6. Add value. While the primary driving force behind your social media efforts may be growing your business, you won’t get many followers on any platform if you only use it to promote yourself. Craft a content strategy that allows you to showcase your areas of expertise by providing useful information, advice, or even freebies for your followers. For example, an accountant may send out reminders when estimated tax time rolls around, while a marketing agency may share a holiday-themed email template that’s free to download.
  7. Develop your own brand. There may come a time when you want to grow beyond your business and pursue new career opportunities. Don’t be afraid to use your social media presence to spread your wings and expand your network so you can leverage your connections if and when the time comes.

A Final Word of Advice

When it comes to social media, your success is often a direct result of the effort you put in. The more active you are in sharing content, and the more you interact with others’ posts, the more engagement you’ll see on your own profile. For many leaders in business, the tricky part is staying consistent.

While it’s important to remain hands-on, don’t be afraid to get assistance with creative and technical tasks, perhaps from a freelancer or administrative assistant, so you can ensure your profiles remain active and you reach your goals on the social media front.