Standing out on social media is extremely difficult given the competition, but it’s possible to achieve if you develop a strong plan and stick to it through the long haul.

Social media gives businesses an opportunity to drive traffic to their site and connect with customers. However, it’s also a bit like trying to get someone’s attention in Times Square. In order to stand out on social media, it’s important to have a great plan and follow it.

The following tips come from years of experience in planning social media campaigns, especially for small and midsize companies who stand the most to gain through social media.

Stay Authentic

People can tell immediately when social media posts try too hard to sell a product or service. It drives people away. Businesses with the best approach share content on social media that is authentic. That includes information on how products are made, as well as content that solves problems for your followers.

Stay Consistent

Before making your first post to social media, it’s important to develop a detailed plan on how and when you will post, and then stick to it. Showing up two or three times a month to make a post will not help your business stand out from the crowd.

Use Video

Video continues to draw more people each year. People on the internet click on a video more often than they read a long article. The key is to make videos that an audience will find authentic, engaging, entertaining and succinct. It might motivate business owners to know that video is 12 times more likely to get shared on social media.

Use Consistent Visuals

When not using video, it’s important that all photos and other graphics adhere to your brand’s established visual style. Using poor images hurts your brand. This is a critical but often overlooked way to stand out on social media. People should glance at a visual and see immediately that it is high quality and fits your brand aesthetic.

Target the Right Audience

General posts are fine in certain situations, but doing them routinely will not help you stand out on social media. It’s critical to have a deep understanding of your audience, including their age, where many of them live, their interests and (most importantly) the problems they have in life that your product or service can help them solve. Businesses can then create social media posts around those topics.

Develop Customer Relationships

A monologue where you make pronouncements and customers only listen will not stand out. More likely, it will eventually drive people away. The successful approach involves building relationships with individual customers, which requires give-and-take communication via social media.

Promote Special Offers

Social media provides every business a direct line to potential customers. It provides an excellent opportunity to tell them about special offers and discounts on products and services. Setting up contests on social media and running promo codes engages audiences and also builds loyalty.

These tips can help you stand out on social media. For many small and midsize businesses, this is an area of far more importance than it is to large corporations. For them, it’s critical to develop a social media strategy that works well with your brand and accomplishes your business goals.