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All It is essential for all businesses, small or large, to utilize social media to connect with current and prospective customers. Proper use of social media could lead sales to skyrocket and bring in new business, but if not strategic, social media can be a huge waste of time. Follow these steps to better engage with your audience and grow your business on social media.

1. Create your first account. If you’re not sure where to start, creating a business page on Facebook is a great first step to entering the social media realm. Facebook is still the most popular social media platform and reaches a wide demographic. Add a link to your Facebook page on your website and other marketing materials.

2. Join the conversation. Replying to customers that comment on your posts or message you on social media is a really easy way to make them feel special and encourage them to check your business out. It is also a great way to get a gauge of what is on your customer’s minds.

3. Reply to any negative criticism. If someone has a bad experience at your restaurant or shop and posts a negative comment or review on social media, responding to them and righting the issue when possible can relieve any tension and hopefully bring business back.

4. Engage your customers. Asking customers to share photos of their food or the product they just bought from you is a great way to get some extra exposure. Also, you can then re-share that content on your business accounts to show off the products you have.

5. Find a balance. Posting too much or too little can have negative ramifications and leads to people unfollowing your page. You will need to find the sweet spot of what works best for you and your customers. Social media studies have shown that you should post at least once a day and no more than twice a day.

6. Use more visuals. Photos receive 87 percent of all engagement from Facebook. Using photos and video of your products and services is a guaranteed way to get more engagement.

7. Stay connected. Whether at home, traveling or on your day off, your business should always be posting on social media to stay relevant. With over half a million Cox Wi-Fi hotspots, you can connect and post from pretty much anywhere.

8. Check the reports. Facebook and Instagram both have report tools built in. Reference these reports monthly to understand how to optimize your content. If you see that customers comment more on videos than photos, try incorporating more of them into your content strategy.

9. Don’t try to do it all yourself. As a business owner, your time is limited, and creating daily content can be very time consuming. Consider delegating social media content creation to an employee who is well-versed in it.

10. Use your own social media accounts. An easy way to get extra eyes on your content is sharing it on your own personal page and encouraging your employees to do the same.

Lisa Lovallo is the Southern Arizona market vice president for Cox Communications. Reach her at