Now that all the meme days of May are over (It’s gonna be May, May the fourth be with you, Cinco de drinko), it’s time to get back to business with your social media posts. We joke, but it is OK to be playful with your fans and followers on occasion. Never be afraid to jump in on the fun if it feels authentic for you. Especially for small business owners, it’s never a bad thing to let customers and potential customers get to know you a little better.

Still, those posts account for a tiny fraction of your social media strategy. What about the other 330 days a year? We have some ideas. Since we don’t want to give you the same stale advice you’ve already heard a thousand times, we pulled out a few topics we think might be new (or newish) for you. Read on for some current and future ideas for optimizing your social media.

Story Time
Instagram Stories isn’t exactly new. In fact, you may be surprised to learn the feature will celebrate its third birthday in August. However, some business owners have been reluctant to employ it as part of a regular strategy. Here’s the why and how of using IG (and Facebook) Stories to engage with your followers.

The best reason for using Stories is because IG and FB feature them prominently at the top of their feeds. If your clever posts are being buried underneath a torrent of celebrity posts and face-tuned selfies, using Stories is a great way to create some organic engagement. Also, Stories will give you more creative latitude. Put up a tutorial; create a poll; ask a question. You can add multiple stories so make each one a single idea that will engage your followers.  

You can create templates for your Stories to ensure a consistent, branded experience. To increase reach, add hashtags to your Stories. If you’re hesitant to muck up your branded aesthetic, you can hide the hashtags behind a sticker or other visual element, or make the hashtag font the same color as the background. Click on any of the above links for more details on how to best use the Stories feature in your social media strategy. If you’re unsure how to get started, this link will give you step-by-step instructions on how to create a story.

Turn It Up to 360 Degrees
If you want to step up your game beyond the basic tools available on social media, 360 video is a less common, but still accessible, feature available to you. If you’re not sure what 360 video is, think Google Street View or the virtual tours you see on real estate and hotel websites.

You’ll need a special camera to shoot 360 video, but YouTube and Facebook support the format (Instagram does not support 360-degree content). Not all businesses will enjoy the benefits of 360 video, but if you want your customers to have an immersive experience with your brand, 360 video could be a good option for you. We could spend paragraphs explaining 360 video, but the best way to understand it is to experience it. For a full how-to primer on 360 video, click here.

Pokemon Go to the Store
As is our habit, we also want to introduce you to something you’re not quite ready for but could be seeing a lot of in the not too distant future. Augmented Reality is a technology that adds digital elements in your camera view. The two most well-known examples of AR are SnapChat lenses and Pokemon Go.

How could this help your business? Well if, for example, you own a furniture store or an interior design firm, AR is tailor-made for you. Imagine if your customers could point their phone cameras at a wall and see the sofa they saw on your website sitting right in their living room. If you want to see a good example of how AR is already being used by a brand, search Sephora on FB Messenger. You can “try on” different cosmetic looks right now on your phone. Once AR is fully incorporated to all social media platforms, many brands will be able to offer an in-store experience to almost all virtual customers.