Well-known brands like H&M, Burberry, and Whole Foods Market have more than 3 million Twitter followers apiece. They boast global name recognition and have assembled the industry’s leading social media professionals to continue expanding their brands across corporate social media.

But not every business can be so blessed. In a world filled with cacophonous tweets and unwieldy news feeds, it’s more critical than ever to be disciplined and strategic to effectively build a loyal following on social media. Here is my list of “do” and “don’t” tips that will help you grow your company’s social media following:

DO create compelling, unique content: Like any customer, your social media audience is looking for customized, high-value content that speaks to them and answers the questions they want to know. Deliver them information and insight they can’t get anywhere else.

DON’T market to your audience: Your social media content cannot be wrapped up in a slick marketing message; it must be genuinely informative and educational. Your audience will smell a marketing ploy from a mile away, so don’t test their intuition even once – because you could turn them off for good.

DO incentivize your audience to share your content: Build features into your content that will give your readers an easy way to share it on popular platforms like Twitter and Facebook. There’s also nothing wrong with encouraging your readers to share the content they like, i.e. “Retweet if you agree with this post!” or even “Share this post for a chance to win a gift certificate from us!”

DON’T try to control the message: Unlike traditional marketing, social marketing is a two-way street. Your audience expects to be able to share opinions and perspectives honestly and openly, and to dialogue with your business in the same personalized way they might in your store. Don’t try to stifle or censor your audience, even if the message veers off course; you simply cannot control the conversation on social media.

DO get all of your employees involved: Employee advocates are a powerful tool in your organization’s arsenal. If you have 20 employees and each of them has 100 Facebook friends, think about how far you could expand your social media reach just by getting them all to share a company post. For the math-challenged, that’s an additional 2,000 people who may see your message – people who likely are already familiar with your company via their friends and tend to have a positive impression of it. EveryoneSocial’s employee advocacy platform provides the perfect tool to harness your company’s strongest employee advocates. The platform makes it easy for social media managers to curate both company content and quality third party content for sharing across social media. Sharing is as easy as pushing a button.

DON’T overhype your message: Your content is most effective when it sells itself. If you make promises or imply things that your content doesn’t deliver on, your audience will quickly become turned off to your content and may stop following you altogether.

DO foster organic, two-way conversations: On social media, it is critical to build rapport by letting your audience help you shape the dialogue and the discussion. Your audience wants to feel their opinions and values are not only being carefully considered, but also celebrated and promoted by your business.

DON’T come across as out of touch: If a trending conversation on social media is about Santa Claus, don’t post about the Easter Bunny out of the blue. Pay attention to what your audience is talking about, so you can contribute to and deepen the conversation, rather than be a distraction and a hindrance to it.

DO be authentic: Conduct every aspect of your marketing as if the world is watching you from behind the scenes – because on social media, someone is watching your every move. Always be yourself, always do what you say you’ll do, and always present yourself in an authentic, consistent, familiar voice.

DON’T confuse your audience: Write your content the way you would tell your audience verbally in person. Don’t use jargon from your industry to sound smarter, and don’t make your audience work to understand what you’re saying. Always be concise and to the point.

DO write compelling headlines: When you’re sharing a story with a friend, do you lead into your topic with a boring introduction? Of course not. You want your audience to be enticed and get appropriately excited about what you’re going to say. Don’t be afraid to tell it big in the headline and introductory content.

DON’T be vague: Your audience is being barraged with messages and content on social media; if you’re not completely clear in what you have to say, you’ll quickly lose your reader. Don’t let that happen – always be specific and precise in describing what it is you want to say.Audiences on social media can be whimsical and fleeting, but it is possible to cultivate loyal followers. By being authentic, listening to your followers, and providing content to educate, not sell, you can generate followers who trust you. And when they are ready to purchase, that trust will lead them to you rather than your competitor.

Audiences on social media can be whimsical and fleeting, but it is possible to cultivate loyal followers. By being authentic, listening to your followers, and providing content to educate, not sell, you can generate followers who trust you. And when they are ready to purchase, that trust will lead them to you rather than your competitor.