Social media is a fantastic way of engaging with your audience, working out your demographic, and sorting disputes out quickly and easily. It’s also great for building up a good business reputation, putting yourself forward as an industry thought leader and encouraging more people to notice your brand.

If you’ve watched the likes of Innocent Drinks or Tesco on Twitter and wondered if you too could create the same lasting relationship with your audience, then the answer is yes! But it will take time - here’s how to make a start:

1. Remember that social is 24/7

Just because you’ve shut your office for the day, doesn’t mean your customers aren’t looking at your social media. You should continue to engage and share interesting content with them that they can interact with. This could mean scheduling posts to be shared in the evening or at the weekend, or actually spending time on Twitter or Facebook periodically outside office hours commenting on news, TV and other things that your customers are interested in.

2. Identify strong influencers and work with them

Working with a blogger or a local celebrity is a great way of getting noticed on social media and offers you the chance to build up relationships with their fans. Try to work alongside someone with a decent, relevant fan base that you can create content with or have endorse your products to see an increase in interest in your brand online. Engage with these fans when they retweet or comment on your posts and watch as the number of followers you have goes up.

3. Use the right platform

Your business will always have a preference when it comes to a platform and you need to decide whether Facebook or Twitter, or LinkedIn or Instagram or Pinterest, will work best. It’s all very well and good dishing out social media business cards featuring links to every single one but your demographic will always have a preference. Research has discovered that a mere 1% of people who like a Facebook brand’s page will actually engage with the content, so bear this in mind before you create an in depth strategy for a particular platform. You don’t want to discover later you’ve been shouting into a void and wasting your time.

4. Have a content plan

Knowing what you are going to share, and when, is a good idea when it comes to building up lasting relationships with an audience. Regular content keeps them interested and keen but ensure you aren’t just posting content solely related to you and your business. Funny, human interest-led pieces work well and get shared by followers with their family and friends. It could be an amusing animal gif on a Monday morning or a motivational quote, just ensure it is marginally relevant to your business or something trending and you should be okay.

Take a look at illustrated goods seller Ohh Deer’s Facebook page and you’ll see what we mean – although it’s worth noting that if you do share other people’s videos or images you should try to credit them.

5. Remember to go mobile

80-85% of posts on Buzzfeed are read on a mobile device, according to the site’s Editor Luke Lewis, when he spoke at a Guardian event earlier this year. That’s why it’s important you cater your social media and content to a mobile device when engaging with your audience on social media. Don’t share content that will take them too long to read - gifs and videos are always popular and ensure the share button is easy to find if it takes them through to a page on your website or blog.

When it comes to building lasting relationships with your audience, the most important thing is understanding exactly what they want. Watch how they interact with certain posts, count the comments, shares and retweets and really hone your content to channel exactly what they want to see. This then builds up that lasting relationship that gets people following, and then spending, money – which let’s face it, is what it’s all about.