Many people have a love/hate relationship with social media, and I used to be among them.

Social media is a complicated thing; it’s free promotion for businesses and a great way to connect with clients, customers and fans. It also fuels feelings of competition, inadequacy, and can be a time suck.

For the moment though, social media accounts are a fixture of business today. It’s important to use them to your advantage. Here’s how I use social media to make good business decisions.

Find Your Style

There are social media accounts I find myself going back to again and again. Some time back, I started analyzing why I liked these accounts so much. The answers differed on the different platforms, but I learned a lot.

For me, I’m drawn to Instagram accounts that have desaturated photos and a mix of photos with people and without people. I like accounts that share victories as well as struggles, and ones that get personal without oversharing.

On Twitter, I appreciate when people not only share other people’s content, but add their thoughts to a re-tweet.

Understanding what draws me to other accounts helped me craft the tone and style I wanted in my own accounts.

Content Inspiration

I’m always inspired by other people’s content. It helps point me in the direction I want to take my own social feeds. Going back through someone’s feed shifts from being a time-waster to being a source of inspiration if you then take the stuff you’re drawn to and make your own.

After spending several hours on certain figures Instagram accounts, I started stockpiling photos in the same vein that I could speak to on my own account. This helps me always have something to post, and ensures that I have something to say (because I like what I’m posting.)

Build Connection

Asking your followers for their opinions, their thoughts, and their own stories is a surefire way to build real connection with them. Asking the same question on all your platforms means that you’ll get more answers from more of your followers.

It also gives people a chance to chime in in their own words. This helps you find out what people want, which gives you a chance to create that for them.

Social media isn’t simply a black hole. You don’t have to get lost in it. Some of my business decisions have been influenced by social media and I believe they’ve helped!

It can be a valuable way to build not only business, but connection with your followers. It’s helped me shape my business and make business decisions, from how I design my website to how I write my captions on Instagram.