It is one thing to have your business’s social media tools picking up pace and fans and followers along with it, but it’s quite another to turn them into bone fide customers. Social media only really works for firms when they turn interactions in industry, tweeting into trade and engagements into enterprise. But how do you do it?

Co-founder of social media marketing intelligence firm Tailwind, Danny Maloney, offered some tips on just that to Entrepreneur Magazine:

Target

Small-to-medium-sized companies must use a targeted approach instead of the wide scale and far reaching methods of large brands. Time and resources should instead be spent more wisely, chiefly on customers they are likely to get on board. Do this by using tools to monitor phrases and keywords which relate to your business, Maloney advises, and respond to whatever people say accordingly. Good tools to try are Mention and Tagboard.

Listen

Don’t just do it, let them know you’re doing it. Social media is a backwards and forwards medium and firms should feel obliged to engage and be responsive. Maloney says: “If they took the time to share a blog post you wrote or to give you a positive review, be listening for it and thank them.”

A good way of showing your brand cares is to bring advocates on board. Get them to blog or review for you, and in turn they will shout on your behalf.

Offer incentives and rewards

To keep your fans and customers returning, give them something to do so. Discounts and offers go a long way to saying thank you and makes people feel valued, which in turn makes them an even stronger supporter.

High quality content

Use a specific set of subjects to provide interesting content, which will enhance your relationship via social media. Don’t just bombard them with sales talk. Maloney says: “If you’re a consumer-facing company, it’s more important to share something that’s interesting and sharable so your audience will propagate the message.” Don’t forget to tailor your content to specific networking sites and be clever in how you present your content. Keep them coming back for more with the best content and you will see them returning as customers too.