“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends,” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. When it comes to the Internet, your social media presence will be your best defence.

Making sure your social media strategy is hitting the mark can be hard. Between the ever-growing number of platforms, threat of bad PR, different strategies for different niches, and a wide plethora of tactics to engage your audience—social media can get a bad rap for being complex. Fortunately, becoming a thought leader, gaining leads, and building your brand with social can be simplified into four digestible pieces.

The key to social media marketing—and any other type of marketing—is to be able to evoke emotion and trigger responses with your audience that triggers them to act. So how do you do that?

Consider the Audience

It’s no secret that your audience is key. Whether you are posting content for a millennials or baby boomers, you need to understand your audience and the platforms they use. What you post on Twitter targeting a millennial should be vastly different than what you would post on Twitter targeting a baby boomer. Who is your audience? What types of content do they engage with? What types of content do well on that platform?

Know where your audience spends its time. For example, you might find younger users on SnapChat, Kik, or WhatsApp. If you’re looking to target older users, Facebook is going to be your best bet. By understanding your audience, you can fine-tune your social strategies.

Before doing anything on social, do your research to understand your audience, and build appropriate buyer personas. As you get going, garner insights from your own posts to see which types of content engage your audience, and then do more of that.

Mix up the Content

With all the talk of “thought leadership” being tossed around, it’s become a bit of a buzzword. Being a thought leader is not just sharing helpful industry news every day—in fact, it’s much more.

You should aim to have a wide variety of content shared on your social channels, including the following:

  • Share your own content (eBooks, blog posts, case studies, webinars, infographics, etc.)
  • Industry news
  • Motivational quotes or images
  • Promotions (giveaways, sales, discounts, offers, contests, etc.)
  • Engagement pieces (“Which product do you prefer?” “Send us your favorite recipe,” etc.)
  • Holiday content
  • Inside scoop (Give people an inside look into your business, your employee of the month, your ping pong tournaments, etc.)

Stay on Top of Trends

Staying on top of trends is not as difficult as you may have been led to believe. Sure, there are tools like BuzzSumo that make this easy, but you don’t have to pay to get great results. Twitter makes it especially easy to stay current. All it takes a quick browse of trending hashtags to know what users content and topics users are engaging with. By simply using relevant trending hashtags, you are able to get a greater reach on your content, gain new followers, and broaden your reach. Even better, if it’s trending on Twitter, you can bet it’s likely to be trending on Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms, too.

Borrow Good Ideas

There is no shame in borrowing good ideas from your competition. Do you have a competitor who is crushing it on social? What are they doing differently? What types of content are they posting? What can you do differently to mimic the engagement they are seeing? There is no sense in recreating the wheel every time you start a new social media strategy. If someone else is doing something that is working, why can’t you?

The answer is you can. And you can do it in a way that is authentic to you and your brand. Businesses across the country have begun imitating Wendy’s approach to Twitter, responding to negative comments in a brash, sarcastic and roast-like manner. Why? Because it evokes emotion, it’s funny, and it creates engagement. What are your competitors doing that you could emulate?

Social media marketing doesn’t need to be complex. If you can distil it down to the basics, keep your audience in mind, be relevant, unique, and engaging—your social strategy will be set up to crush your competition!