Solidify a social media strategy for your small business before the fall begins.

Whether you’re ready to admit it or not, summer will soon come to an end. Right now, your business goals should definitely include making the most of the remainder of the summer. But, you’ll soon need to gear up for the fall. What better way to kick off the last quarter of the year than with a social media strategy to propel your business forward?

Before you jump into sharing Facebook updates, posting on Twitter and pinning images on Pinterest, you’ll first need to first make sure you understand the purpose of using social media in your business. Are you focusing on brand awareness for your company, increasing sales or the opportunity to connect with customers? Whatever your reason may be, you’ll need to establish a solid social media strategy.

So, what steps should you take to develop a social media strategy? These four tips can get you started.

Determine Your Social Media Purpose

If you’re jumping on the social media bandwagon because everyone is doing it, you’re focusing on social media for the wrong reason. Hopefully you’re past that stage and you’re establishing a presence because you know your brand needs social media. So whether your purpose of using social media is one of the points I mentioned above, or a different reason, make sure your purpose is clear.

Decide What Platforms You’ll Use

There are so many social media platforms you can use. But, it’s not possible to be everywhere. Instead, join networks that your customers and potential customers are already active. If you’re a B2B company, LinkedIn may be your best option. If you’re a B2C company, connect with fans on Facebook and Twitter.

Listen to Conversations and Engage

Social media is more than just pushing out information about your company. One of the main benefits of social media is the ability to listen to conversations and engage with others. Search for keywords that relate to your business and add your insight when it moves along the conversation. Master this and you’re steps ahead of what most businesses are doing on social media.

Create Killer Content

You’ll need to create and share content that will be of interest to followers and potential followers. One way to create killer content is by using images. Compelling images can also increase social media engagement. Visuals grab attention much easier than text updates or links.

These four tips will help put your social media strategy in gear for the fall. For a complete guide to developing your social media presence, download Hootsuite’s step-by-step guide to creating a social media strategy.