In a time when major brands have built entire social media teams and when national debates are sprung from a single tweet—it’s clear that social media is a powerful tool. When managed well, it can attract new customers and strengthen the relationships you have with old ones.

But it’s not just a matter of posting simply what amounts to advertisements for your product. It’s about creating posts that build awareness, humanize your brand, and engage your followers and the public at large. What’s more, according to Social Media Examiner, more than half of marketers who’ve used social media for at least two years report it helped them improve sales. Here’s how to optimize your efforts:

Put in some time.

Not a lot of time, but some. As the Examiner report notes, 66 percent of marketers notice lead-generation benefits when spending just six hours a week.  However you work in that time, be sure to post often and consistently.

Publish your posts in the right outlet.

Your audience isn’t necessarily the same on LinkedIn as it is on Facebook. Know who’s viewing what and disseminate your posts accordingly. If you run a birthday cake business, you’ll want to share relevant topics for say, professional party planners, in the former, but parents in the latter. Also, some formats are more appropriate for certain outlets than others—create webinars for YouTube, for instance; tweet about it on Twitter; and share a cool infographic from the webinar on Facebook.

Use visuals.

As a UFSocial article points out, visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. So whatever you’re saying, show it—whether it’s a new product you’re about to launch, a new location you’re about to open, your staff using your product during off-hours or an infographic of your latest consumer survey. Make it fun, fresh, and engaging so people can’t resist sharing it.

Make your followers feel like insiders.

Share the inspiration board that helped make your new product happen. Take behind-the-scenes images of the photo shoot for your latest ad campaign. Show pictures of a visit to a vendor (for instance, images of a farm that supplies an ingredient in your product).  Obviously, whatever you feature should highlight aspects of your business that speak to the mindset of your customers or potential customers. You can offer discount codes just for your followers.

Show the humans behind your brand.

Include a playful Q&A with the team lead, mixing both the business and personal, from what she loves most about the product to what kind of snacks fueled the team while they spent long afternoons working on it. Or if your team participates in a volunteer program, tell followers about it and include a shot of you all in action. Relationships are forged between people, so help them put a face—or faces—to your name.

Know that it’s not all about you (nor your brand).

It’s also about what you believe in and who else you engage with. Let followers know that you don’t live in a vacuum: So post on topics that line up with your brand’s mission. For instance, if you’re a sports-apparel brand, you might post a newspaper story about the winner of the New York Marathon and send along a congratulatory note. If you consult on children’s education, you might post an article about a new kid’s book you’re excited about. Whatever you post, keep it positive and informative.

Share other people’s post.

For the reasons mentioned above, you can simply retweet or share posts from other brands or people you believe in. To go back to the previous sports apparel brand example, you can share a smart tweet from an athlete you admire or a university’s post about a new finding in exercise science.

Be interactive.

Call out for new product suggestions. Ask them to share an image featuring their favorite interaction with your brand. The more you engage and they engage back, the stronger the bond you forge.

Prepare for relevant holidays.

If you own a party-supply site, have something to say for the holidays that people might go to you for (New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day). If you’re a dietitian, you might want to offer a series of tips once a week in February (Heart Health Month). By being timely, you’re more apt to turn a follower into a customer.

Respond to your followers.

Whether it’s positive or negative, acknowledge comments aimed at you or your brand. Someone post a picture of them winning a race wearing the tank tops you manufacture? Respond back with hearty congrats. Someone tweet at you with a complaint? Tweet back and make it right so you show that customer, and all your followers, that you care. According to Medallia Institute, when hotels responded to more than 50 percent of their social reviews, their year-over-year occupancy rates grew by 6.4 percentage points over a 12-month period—which is more than twice the rate of hotels that ignored social media reviews.