In website design, our basic design goal revolves around the need to capture our audience within 8 seconds or less. On social media, you probably have less than that to convince a user to stay on your page or post to dig for more information. Think about it; how fast do you normally scroll through your Facebook newsfeed? How many seconds do you spend looking at each post? One second? A half second?

The question is, how do we create a social media presence that will work for us? You’re not going to get people to notice you just because you want them to. Here are some pointers:

Create a simple and logical screen name

Don’t make things more complicated than they should be. We’re not trying to be cute, we’re trying to be visible. Create a logical screen name that matches with your business goals. For example, if you are a new restaurant named “The Green Leaf”, obviously “TheGreenLeaf” would probably be a good screen name. The problem is, on Facebook especially, there is a good chance that screen name is taken. Come up with something memorable that still matches your business, maybe “GreenLeafWaikiki”, denoting your location. That may not be your actual name, but people will still remember it.

You want to avoid screen names that are trendy or date you. Remember, if your business is successful, you could be using this screen name for years. You should be thinking about what you want your company image to be 10 years from now, not just right now.

Create a great avatar and profile image

People are visual. A memorable avatar and profile image could go a long way to making your brand memorable. Both should be representative of your brand and your marketing message and should portray that message in less than 5 seconds. Here is Hawaii, I see so many businesses who use a generic landscape photo as their profile image. If you are a photographer, this could make sense. But for most, how about a photograph of your staff? Or your products? For restaurant, I would use a professional head shot of the chef or the owner as the avatar, and I would use an inviting and beautiful image of the restaurant’s dining area as the profile picture.

Create high quality posts that inform and educate

Content that you post needs to be of very high quality. Every business owner has knowledge that they can share with the world. The key is to post content that adds value to people’s lives. For myself, I simply post the same content that I am added to my blog. If you read the articles on this blog, I am not trying to sell anything to anyone, I am taking the knowledge that I have obtained by running my business, and writing out that knowledge in an understandable way hoping that other business owners will be able to benefit from my work and experience. My feeling is that if I can help others, I will benefit in the long run.

Posts need to happen consistently over time. If you are not going to post on a regular basis, don’t bother. Posts should be relatively short – two to three sentences for Facebook and Google. The post, of course, can contain a link to a much longer article on your blog.

Every post should have at least a picture, but an infographic or video would be even better. Studies show that posts of Facebook that include an image gets double the click rate, simple as that.

Manage your responses based on your business goals

It is important to engage with your customers. You are not just posting text and images advertising sales, or articles from your blog, you are also giving customers an inside look at the people and stories behind your business as well as responding to comments made by your social media followers. For a business, I would not post overly political content, but I would absolutely post about topics that I feel strongly about. Younger consumers like to support companies that have a social mission, or who do good in their communities. If you are doing good in your community, you absolutely need to post what is going on and do it with lots of pictures and even video.

In responding to posts, especially criticism or complaints, you need to be positive. Publicly accusing your customers of lying, or of being generally wrong will to more damage to your image than saying nothing at all. Be positive and solution oriented and never be defensive. The customer is not always right, but remember, if your negative post get re-shared, potential customers could react without understanding or caring about the whole story. Also remember that everything you post on social media could possibly end up in the public domain forever and haunt you for years to come.