You’ve probably been on social media for many years now, and you’ve experienced its power and importance first-hand. Social media is popular; it encourages two-way communication and is perfect for customer service. It’s also a great marketing vehicle if you know how to use it. Here are ways you can use social media to increase sales.

Create Trust with Transparency

Use social media to tell your story — what made you start your business, what influenced your choice, what makes you unique and so on — to build your brand and connect with people. The more open and transparent you are, the more people trust you; the more people trust you, the more willing they are to use your product or service.

Develop a Strategy

Social media includes blogs, business networks, forums, social networks, photo and video sharing sites and more. Formulate a plan for choosing a platform based upon your product, your goals, your target audience and the time you have available for social media marketing. For example, if you make handicrafts, participate in communities such as the Craft Bloggers Network and e-commerce websites such as Etsy.

Create a Consistent Social Media Presence

In her podcast on how to get better results from social media marketing, Jess Van Den of Create & Thrive says you should claim your business name on all social media. Stick with a particular name or logo that represents you on all your business accounts to present a consistent image across all platforms. Cross-promote the most relevant social media accounts by adding a feed plug-in on your website, a custom tab on Facebook and links from your other social media profiles.

Make Connections

You can share your business information on a social media platform and link back to your other accounts and blogs/sites. Update your links and bio to reflect your latest business developments. Include social media links in your email signature. Collaborate with other businesses and cross-promote by linking with them. Most importantly, develop relationships with potential clients by responding to every contact.

Be Aware and Be Patient

Marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk says it is hard to measure social media’s Return on Investment (ROI), as the ROI is based upon effort and work rather than money and tools used. Check your number of followers, page views and engagement rate, and use tools such as Google Analytics and Hootsuite to see how your efforts are bringing people in. You may not achieve instant results, but 74 percent of marketers who spend more than 40 hours per week on social media ultimately earn new business. Social media interactions foster brand awareness and trust, which is more valuable in the end.