Social media sucks.

Back in the good ole’ days, you’d quickly build an audience on Facebook just by ripping off someone else’s YouTube videos. Today, you’ve got to pay to play, right?

There’s not an easy and free way to gain a significant audience on social media today. But maybe that’s a good thing.

Do you really want your social media competition to include everyone with half a brain and some time to spend?

It’s up to you to beat out the competition on social media whoever they may be. Let’s hone your social media skills on the top three social media platforms.

1. YouTube as Social Media

Wait! You cry. YouTube is a video platform, not a social media platform!

Funny. Everything you just assumed is wrong.

Sure, YouTube is a video platform. It’s not JUST a video platform.

YouTube is a search engine. It’s a social media platform too.

How? It’s simple: without the participation of the audience, great YouTube videos would not rise to the surface.

YouTube is just as complicated a search engine as Google if not more so. YouTube’s search algorithms must consider not only video content, but also audience participation in the form of likes and dislikes, comments, watch time, ad-skpping, etc.

YouTube is the second largest search engine and one of the top social media platforms. Are you convinced yet? Because we’ve got to talk about how to get the most out of this platform.

Be Authentic AF

You’re not your competition. You’re also not Pepsi or Audi or whoever you want to emulate.

You’re the small brand your customers have come to love. Don’t pretend to be any other brand.

While this isn’t an excuse to create poor quality video content, you can casually be yourself while creating the content.

Hook Them Immediately

YouTube only counts views if someone watches for at least 30 seconds. Facebook counts a view if someone watches for only 3 seconds.

If people find the first few seconds of your video boring, they’re not going to stick around. This means you need an explosive opening. You need to make people want to stick around.

Latch Onto Someone With Experience

Mentorship could increase your YouTube skills exponentially. Yeah, you could just shoot some adhoc video with your phone, but a lack of quality will push people away.

2. Instagram as a Rising Star

Instagram used to be a niche social media platform. It was a place for hipsters.

Today it’s the go-to alternative to Facebook for most millennial (even if it’s owned by Facebook? Yeah, I’m confused too). And since the platform hit 1 billion users, it’s a fully ad sponsored platform.

Facebook has done an excellent job of integrating ads into the Instagram interface. Users hardly notice ads as they fit with whatever content they expect to see on their feed.

Here’s how to optimize your marketing there.

Content for All

Just like YouTube, consider your audience. What kinds of photos are they liking? What hashtags are they following?

Instagram is both a photo platform and a blog platform. Influencers are using the space below their photos to dispense extra value for their followers.

You need to do the same. A quick sentence or two won’t cut it anymore. You need to relate to your customers and give them something extra on each post.

Consistency is Essential

What’s the magic number of posts per day on Instagram? Some claim once others claim twice a day.

I say it doesn’t matter. What really matters is consistency.

Post at least once a day. If you post more than that, it’s your time. I’ve seen no evidence that posting more than once or twice a day on Instagram will increase your audience size or participation.

But your audience will expect you to keep posting if you post every day. Choose a time to post and stick to that schedule.

3. Of Course, There’s Always Facebook

I wish I could put Twitter on this list. And Twitter really is one of the easiest ways to gain followers and leverage social media.

But if we’re talking big and bold, Facebook still takes the cake. Facebook includes all the media you could ever create.

From stories, photos, videos, memes, groups, pages, blogs, etc, etc, etc… Yeah, there’s a lot of potential still on Facebook even if it’s mostly pay to play.

Messenger Marketing

Facebook recently opened its messenger service to bots. You can now market directly to consumers through messenger marketing.

Run a Facebook Group

You can now run a Facebook group as a Facebook page. This means your brand can foster a community.

You can even post on the group as your brand. Once you’ve grown a community, you automatically gain exposure just by posting in the group and commenting on user posts.

The Learning Curve Ain’t Steep

If you’ve got a little bit of money to invest in social media marketing, implementation isn’t difficult. It takes time. If you automate most of these processes, you can mitigate the amount of time necessary

What social media tricks have you found most useful? Let us know on Shoemoney’s Facebook page.

By Ben Mattice

Benjamin Mattice is a freelance writer/editor, horror and sci-fi writer, SEO and affiliate marketing newbie, dog wrestler, cat wrangler, capoeirista, and long distance runner. He lives in the Palouse with his wife, three dogs, two cats, and two rats. Yes, that would probably be considered a mini-zoo.