Social media is a complicated beast. On the one hand, it gives you an unmatched and unprecedented ability to build brand awareness and create close-knit connections with your audience. But on the other hand, it can be difficult to successfully sell products and services on social media – making it easy to question the true return on the time and effort your company puts into it.

That being said, there are many proven, often untapped ways to increase the number of sales you reel in through social media. Here are five places to start:

1. Don’t rely on Facebook Ads.

The glory days when you could toss in $500 in Facebook ads and automatically receive $5,000 in online sales are long behind us. Today, because of market saturation, your return on Facebook ads will almost always be smaller than in years past. This trend will only continue given Facebook’s entire revenue model is built on gaining data and selling ads, and when Facebook investors are looking for returns, looking to increase ad revenue is inevitable.

If you want to boost your online sales this year, look beyond Facebook ads and start to set aside a budget for advertising on Pinterest, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, LinkedIn, and more.

2. Take the “thought leadership” approach to selling.

People trust people more than they do faceless logos. In the overcrowded market, we live in today, it’s often easier to cut through the noise and build the consumer’s trust using a spokesperson, or thought leader than it is with the old-fashioned way.

At your own company, strive to make yourself or your founder a thought leader in your space. Then, have your founder put out actionable content to help guide people through the common issues they have in your industry. Over time, this will work to build a strong personal brand for that thought leader, which will make selling on social media a whole lot easier.

3. Jump on new opportunities early.

Just because you were late to the party for Instagram doesn’t mean you can’t be an early adopter of Instagram Live. Just because you were late to the party for LinkedIn doesn’t mean you can’t be an early adopter of LinkedIn video. The list goes on and on.

If you want to cut through the noise and sell more products on social media, one of the easiest ways to do so is by jumping on new features within already-established platforms early. Not only will you have less competition because of the lower volume of content being published using the feature, but the platform’s algorithm will be prioritizing that particular style of content too – allowing you to rise to the top of the app’s feed.

4. Be available and active everywhere you can.

People have different preferences when it comes to how they communicate online, just like anything else. Some prefer using the phone, others like email, while some like using Twitter or Instagram.

If you truly want to increase your sales from social media in 2019 and beyond, you’ve got to accommodate these preferences. Not only do you need to be active across nearly all social media channels and other communication networks, but you’ve also got to be available in them.

If someone reaches out to you through Facebook Messenger and you don’t respond for a whole week, it’s unlikely you’ll get that sale – and so on. Be available wherever you can without stretching yourself too thin. You can also use a tool like Hootsuite to easily monitor all your social media accounts from one dashboard.

5. Invest in video.

Studies have shown that nearly three-quarters of consumers would rather watch a video explaining a product than read a description. Additionally, 88 percent of marketers have reported they’re satisfied with the return on investment with their video.

Video is quickly becoming a prerequisite for successful social media selling, not a “nice thing to have” or bonus. Videos can give you the chance to build trust by having a one-on-one virtual conversation with your customers.

To start, you can hire a quality freelancer off a website like Upwork to shoot and edit videos. From there, repurpose them across all your active social media channels and create video ads too.