By Iona St Joseph, Account Manager at A Social Media Agency

Brands are taking over social media. Facebook is no longer the place you go just to chat to old school friends. Now, you can’t move on the site for sponsored posts in your news feed and there’s always that optimistic friend who believes that Apple really do have a spare bunch of iPhone 5 handsets lying around, ready to ship out to people who share their post.

All these promoted and sponsored posts are subsequently leading to a very irritated bunch of people who are less and less likely to become customers with every spammy post. So why are these brands digging their own graves when it comes to their performance across social networks?

Don’t get me wrong, there are brands that are totally nailing this social media thing. Innocent are absolutely smashing their way through Twitter and ASOS really know what they’re doing across a number of social networks. However, the problem comes with the brands that think they need to be on social media just because everyone else is, and think they can be as big as Nike across all social networks. Why are all brands becoming so blinded by the need for an enormous number of followers and likes?

A vast number of people like brand pages on Facebook purely because they’re offering a freebie, but is this really what you want from your brand? Lets take it offline for a moment. If you had a shop, you wouldn’t want to fill it with every Tom, Dick and Harry just to get people in there. You would want it filled with people who are genuinely interested in what you’re selling, who are going to buy something from you and who are going to come back again and again. So why be any different online? Everyone seems to have forgotten that fact that it’s quality we should be aiming for, not quantity.

“But what about sales?!” I hear you shouting at the screen. Yes, sales are the main reason for any business doing anything, but you want to be able to attract the kind of customer that is interested in your brand and keeps spending over and over again. Continuous spammy sales posts are probably going to result in the opposite effect, driving people away from your business.

There are endless lists about how you can improve your business through the use of social media, but here are A Social Media Agency’s top five ways you can improve your brand’s social media presence:

1. First up, work out if you even need a social media presence. If you’re a funeral directors, are you really going to want to share a new client win on Facebook? It’s definitely worth investigating your target market before investing the time and resources into running a number of social media accounts.

2. Now that you’ve identified your audience, think about what you want from your customers. Work out what you would be looking for if you were a customer of your business and then work out how to appeal to them. You don’t like thousands of pages about DIY, so what makes you think that other people will want to like your brand?

3. People know what they like and they don’t like to be sold to, so ease off on the spammy sales messages. It’s all about education. Become a knowledge source for your customers and create something unique to your brand that’s going to keep people coming back.

4. Focus on how social media can increase your ROI, don’t just concentrate on the conversation. Start with your goals and what you want to achieve and work backwards from there to establish a plan.

5. Work out the tone and style you want to represent you on social media. Do you want to be quirky and fun, or do you want to keep it business-like and straight laced? Work out what will be the best representation of your brand, but also what you think will be most likely to make customers interact with you.