Whether a company deals in media content, seven-figure sports cars or homebrew video games, their marketing success will be dependent upon their ability to engage with consumers. As the founder and CEO of the hugely popular Los Angeles-based news hub What’s Trending, Shira Lazar has had great success in engaging millions of people through a variety of channels.

Recently, Lazar was generous enough to share some of her insights on how burgeoning entrepreneurs can use social media and video to market their brands, as well as some potential pitfalls they should avoid when trying to reach out to consumers.

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What advice would you give to burgeoning entrepreneurs who are trying to establish their brands on social media?

Be true to you. Authenticity is key. Be consistent. Figure out what platform has most of the community you are trying to be part of, and target and focus your work there. Create a workflow around each one so you are doing something interesting there daily. Follow and stay up to date on what those similar to you are doing and interact with those leaders and their community. Also, collaboration helps as you build your own audience. Whether it’s sharing a great picture you took when you met another entrepreneur and tagging him saying something thoughtful, or starting a blog/podcast around your area of interest and having special guests on. The more you participate and give back in a meaningful way, the more you will be noticed in the noise. The key is finding the one thing you bring to the space that is unique and express that consistently.

How do you keep social media followers engaged?

Once again, consistency is a huge part of it, and being responsive when your community interacts, shares, or comments. Let them know you see and hear them by replying back, favoring their comments, etc. Giveaways are also great. Just make sure it’s something that makes sense for your audience and doesn’t feel like you’re just trolling. I also think it’s important to go to interesting places or conferences that inspire you because you’ll have more new and engaging content to share.

How important is video content in marketing?

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Video has become a huge priority for a lot of these social platforms, so it is very important. If you are the on camera type, I say go for it. Figure out a lo-fi strategy for video that allows you to post on the go without a ton of resources. If you’re not someone who likes being on camera, that’s ok too. There are so many ways to create video these days, whether it’s just on screen or voice-over, or your POV without you on camera. Find out what’s best for you and your audience and then experiment. Once again, pick out examples of other brands doing video and figure out what you like and dislike as you build your own vision.

Just think to yourself when your posting, does this video make me feel anything? Would I share this or even click on it based on its caption? Telling your story through video requires a lot of care and focus. That level of focus should also be put into how you share content once it’s uploaded in terms of its title, description, tags, etc. So keep that in mind.

What marketing practices would you advise against?

Literally copying someone else’s shtick. In this political climate, you also might want to avoid alienating your community by consistently throwing in jabs at the other side. It’s easy to do, but when it starts getting too personal, it also gets awkward. Also, don’t be the angry poster or Debbie Downer. You want to be real, but no one wants to follow someone who is using their social media as therapy — unless that’s your brand of course!

Also, reply to followers who interact with you. The most annoying thing is when you’re following a brand you respect and you try and reach out, and there’s no reply! It makes your brand seem insincere and it gives the impression there’s not a real person behind the posts.



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This article was written by Mario McKellop for CBS Small Business Pulse.