Consistent quality. That's the secret to promoting any business on social media. The allure of "going viral" is that you can garner attention with one red-hot video or build a brand when your quirky post about firing everyone at your company (and rehiring them) hits Facebook. The truth is that these mega-hits do raise awareness (for a while), but no one can sustain that level of interest, and in many ways it leads to high viewership and click rates not not necessarily high sales or loyal customers.

One reason is that social media is usually about one-hit wonders--a viral post that captures an audience for a short period of time. Yet, for a house-cleaning business or an accounting app, the real purpose of social media is to engage, inform, and promote using a channel that is mostly free, especially if you avoid using sponsored posts and stick with the idea of writing articles, sharing photo and videos, and scheduling your activity in a logical way.

Here's an example.

Let's say you did just create a new accounting app. To make it go "viral" you will likely need to create a quirky video or write a compelling story that probably doesn't have anything to do with accounting. Real customers--the ones who might purchase the app--don't really care about any of that, or they might care for a while and then get back to work.

Social media is a platform for connecting with people over a long period of time, consistently and with quality content. Any business that's worthwhile avoids the trap of guerrilla marketing, which suggests that you need to make a big splash using unorthodox methods. But what about ten years from now? Or 20 years from now? Facebook is going to be around a while; so is LinkedIn. If you want your company to stick around as well, it's far better to create a product people will want to purchase, then promote it in a compelling way but avoid the quick hits. This is called "branding" by the way. It's a step-by-step process. People will eventually expect consistent content--not a few posts here and there, but posts that are scheduled, well-planned, thoughtful, informative, and helpful over many weeks and months. It's better to have four or five high-quality posts each day for existing and potential customers to read and consume than to have one or two viral posts.

Of course, this takes actual work. My advice is to hire a few people who can do social media "the right away" over the next few years, to ramp up your quality and frequency, to make it a major priority. In fact, make social media a focus for your company, not a distraction or a source of anxiety. Find someone to take engaging photos and videos; hire a writer who knows how to communicate. Without consistent effort on social media, it becomes a slog of random posts about nothing. It's a Seinfeld episode.

This is also where apps can help. Scheduling social media is much easier with an app like HootSuite or Sprout Social. Track your success by comparing Facebook Reach metrics--how many people see the posts in their feed--against website traffic, which you can track with Google Analytics or more powerful (but also more expensive apps) like Social Flow. figure out how to use these apps to achieve the goal of maintaining attention.

Customers should know you are serious about promoting your company, about announcing when there is a new milestone, about company news that might make them want to buy a product, not just laugh at a video. They need to see effort, not occasional hits.

Will you make social a focus? Will it become an actual investment in time and money to make sure you have a consistent approach?

These free and established marketing tools are not going away. It's best to figure out how to use these platforms effectively and make it work to your advantage.