You’ve set up profiles on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, and you’re ready to begin connecting with followers and engaging them with thoughtful content.

Ensure your success by reviewing our 14 social media best practices for business steps, and help position you as a reliable, credible and captivating professional.

Make friends.

Social media is about people connecting with people. So, even if you’re representing a business, be sure to let your genuine, human side shine through in your posts. Be authentic, helpful, and considerate. And return favors (such as “liking” posts and pages).

Practice restraint.

In terms of posting frequency. No one likes a loudmouth. One of the quickest ways to lose followers is to over-post, pin, or tweet. Posting quality content once or twice a day is enough to engage with your audience.

Be respectful.

Your posts, tweets, and pins are out there for the world to see… make sure you’re proud of them. Treat your followers with dignity and respect, and you’re likely to get the same in return.

Be accurate.

Your posts can help build credibility; be sure to check your facts, spelling, and grammar.

Be professional.

If you’re representing a business on your social media profiles, keep the tone of your posts conversational, but professional. Would you say it (or show it) at a business networking function? If not, refrain from posting it on social media sites.

Be valuable.

Provide useful information in your posts, such as links to related articles and videos. This will help establish your credibility as a valuable resource within your industry.

Encourage open dialogue.

Social media is not your megaphone; make sure your posts invite followers to respond.

Be responsive.

When followers comment on your posts, make sure you acknowledge their feedback and engage in conversation. You want them to know you’re listening to their feedback and that you appreciate it (and them).

Get visual.

Post photos, videos, and other visual elements to boost engagement.

Leverage promotions.

Use special offers for social media followers, such as discounts and contests, to expand your reach and strengthen existing connections.

Ask questions.

By asking open-ended questions — like, “What’s your favorite vacation spot?”— you encourage conversation with your audience and let your followers know that you value their input.

Use humor.

Everyone likes to laugh. Use humor show your personality and strengthen connections.

Drive traffic to your website.

Your social media profiles can serve as portals to your website (especially if you own a business). Include your URL in posts to point followers to your site to “learn more.”

Think first.

When you post, it’s out there to be shared on a global scale. Take a few minutes to consider the content of your message and the best tone in which to deliver it.

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Also published on Medium.