Social media offers many free tools to connect with and engage your various target audiences of interest, however, it can be an expensive investment. It may not seem to be worth the time it takes to write content, answer questions and comments, build followers and so forth—especially if those efforts are not generating results.

It takes forethought, understanding and time to use these tools in a manner that brings you return on your investment. I want to help you save your resources, because I know how important each dollar is in a start-up business. Here are four key considerations to create successful and engaging social media content.

Think "what can I give," not "what can I get"

It is an old, well-known law of attraction that when we give from an authentic place—in consideration of what inspires those in front of us—we connect with people on a deeper level. Over time, if we keep this behavior consistent, we develop trust and loyalty. And that’s what you need—loyal customers. Customers who come back again and again, and who act as your ambassadors, spreading the word about you to their friends and family.

Focus more on "social" than "media"

Social media works because it taps into the basic human need of socializing and belonging, being part of a group of shared beliefs and values. Talk about why you do what you do, what you believe, your passions and you will attract the kind of people who understand you and will support you.

A source of inspiration for me on this topic is Simon Sinek—watch his TED talk here.

Be engaging in your content, not pushy

Nothing turns off your audience quicker than when you continue to post pushy sales content. That’s a surefire way to NOT get people interested and engaged in your brand. Ask yourself: What does it take to engage your target audience? What about you and your business would your customer find interesting, share-worthy, response-worthy? Keep in mind the 80/20 rule of thumb for content. Maximum 20 percent sales and self-promotional content—the remaining 80 percent needs to be focused on them, not you.

Have the courage to lead & stand out

What is unique about your business? Be courageous and share how you do things in a totally different way—perhaps a way that's never been done before. Dare to be yourself and share your uniqueness. It can be the founder’s story and way of life; how the business came to be (inspired by nature’s own architecture); how the business began (in your mom’s garage on a $100 start-up budget); the products themselves; the ingredient sourcing; the humor you mix into a difficult health topic; the way you do business; your business values, etc.

Be sure not to force a unique way of being in the social media space just to be different. It will appear forced and won't work. Authenticity is something people pick up on quickly. Know that you are unique, so just be yourself.

Think big, but start small and be realistic. Have fun with the process, experiment and remember that what works—even in the digital world—is to be human.