Social commerce-- the process of buying products on social channels like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram-- is quickly growing as a viable channel for today's small & medium business owners. But to get there, you have to be successful on social media in the first place.

Having a presence on social media is no longer just a 'nice-to-have' for a business; customers expect it. For many of us, though, being active and aware on these channels can be tough, so we're here to help with some basic tips.

1. Stay True to Your Niche

Depending on what you sell, your brand's social channels should be marketing content that is relevant. If you sell apparel, staying on top of and sharing current trends, especially those with which your products match, is a good option.

Likewise, sharing new and upcoming technology or gadgets if you sell tech- or gaming-related products can help you keep your customers engaged when you're not pushing your products.

2. Keep Your Ratio at 80/20

You shouldn't be sharing only your products, services, or promotions. Along with staying true to your niche, sharing curated content (meaning, content you or your company didn't create) should be the majority of what you share on your social channels.

There's a cool theory that many big brands follow, and that's that 80% of what you share should be for someone else (a.k.a. Retweets, replies, comments, other company's articles, relevant studies, images, etc.) Only 20% of the content you share should be directly related to something you've created.

Why? Social media is about being social, not about getting attention. No one wants to socialize with someone who only talks about themselves.

3. Be Personable

Having a company brand is fantastic and should be desired, but don't forget that many people are on social to connect with other human beings. Just because you're behind a company name doesn't mean you should be cold and sterile.

Don't be afraid to share cool things happening around the office, or use a more conversational tone of voice when posting or commenting. The 'peek behind the scenes' posts, especially with pictures and/or videos can win engagement with your customers and keep them coming back.

4. Set up Alerts

When people don't know (or even sometimes when they do) about your business's social media handles, they won't tag your social media handle or mention you so that you get a notification. This is where services like Google Alerts or Talkwalker, among the many that are available, can help to make sure you don't miss any mentions. Setting up alerts for your brand name, along with its misspellings, will ensure you see what’s being said and can respond or share as necessary.

5. Make Your Social Channels Known

There are a lot of social channels these days. Doing cross-promotions, listing where you're active in your brand messaging (both physical and online), and having the channels' linked icons on your website is of paramount importance. If your customers don't know about your channels, the work you're doing to market their content won't be as effective. Creating a specific hashtag for your customers to use when sharing their experience with your products can also help to guide your customers towards sharing and connect with each other as well as your brand.

Be Social

Effectively managing your social media and marketing its content can help lead to higher customer engagements, more interactivity with your brand, and hopefully, more sales.