Nowadays, every business that knows its salt has several social media accounts. However, what many businesses lack are social media accounts that work for them as they should. Social media marketing can be a tricky road for businesses to navigate, especially businesses that are not born online. Adapting traditional marketing to this social environment has proved difficult for businesses that long predate the social media trends, with awkward "statuses" about how great their products are being the go-to master plan for their marketing department. We all know that this does not work, so here are five ways that you can make your social media marketing a success, whether you are doing it for yourself or, as Jayson DeMers suggests, hiring freelancers to do it for you.

1. Promote your accounts

All social media accounts are able to link with one another; if you have an Instagram account for your business, make sure your Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts are linked so that you can make four posts at one time with just the click of a button. When you tweet, make sure it posts to your Facebook page as well. Add the fact that you are on these websites to your business cards and newsletters (online and paper versions). People will not know to follow you if they don't know that it's possible.

2. Don't over post

Throwing posts at your followers like spam email is the fastest way to get them to drop you from their news feed or to stop following you all together. Generally make no more than three to four posts a day, and when you do post, make sure that they have value beyond another hollow advert.

3. Give your content value

Instead of selling to your customers, show them the value of your products and how they can help solve their problems or enhance their lives. The best way to do this is to produce creative content that shows them how this is done instead of straightforward posts that simply say "x can help you by..." In doing this, you will keep your customers informed and help them believe that your company cares about them like no other does.

4. Respond to your customers

Social media marketing is going to work only if you are social with your customers. When you get comments or questions on your posts, respond to them in a personable manner. Give your customers quality responses that not only acknowledge that they've asked a question, but also show that you've read the question and put some real thought into it. By creating an open dialogue with your customers, you add the personal touch that is so important to get ahead.

5. Don't drop off the face of the earth

For social media marketing to be effective, you need to keep it up. If you drop out of the conversation, you may find yourself drowned out by competitors by the time you jump back in. In addition, your customers will assume that you have left and unfollow you when cleaning out the clutter in their accounts. Since this is exactly the opposite of what social media marketing aims to do, you need to keep your accounts up, even if this means hiring a social media marketer to take care of them for you.

Published on: Sep 9, 2014
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.