Friend, Follow and Connect – Using Social Media to Build Your Business

Andy Anderson

social media marketingLet's face it; small business owners are very busy people, so busy that they can often be the last to catch on to cultural trends. It may be okay to delay one's personal exploration of social media, but when it comes to promoting your small business, having a presence on social media is crucial. Many business owners find that their pages on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn drive more new business than any other form of marketing. If you have been avoiding the inevitable, silence on social media sites is no longer an option.

In a recent article on Forbes.com, "How To Use Social Media To Promote Your Small Business," the author makes it easy for business owners to jump on the social media bandwagon and start enjoying the benefits right away. An effective social media marketing strategy may be a lot less complicated than you think.

Here is a snapshot of the step-by-step guide provided in the article:

1. Assess your assets. Before engaging in a social media marketing campaign, you should first take inventory of what makes your company unique. What are your best assets? Who are you targeting with your advertising messages?

2. Sign up for social media sites. Create an account on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn. Facebook allows you to create a business page that allows you to promote your products and services for free to followers, but you can also purchase sponsored messages that target a specific audience. Most of these sites allow you to assess the campaigns' overall impact.

3. Find an automated social media management tool. It can be difficult to manage multiple social networks while you're trying to run a business. Before you start adding followers and posting updates, sign up for a service like HootSuite or Ping.fm. These services let you manage all your postings and schedule messages to deploy at specific times on various networks. You can also review the success of your campaigns in real time.

4. Start posting updates. It is important that each of your social media pages have content before you start accepting friends and followers. When you ask people to "like" the page or seek out followers by other means, the first thing people will do is look at the content on your page. Provide valuable information about the industry at large, pictures and videos related to your business, and don't forget to post some "shareable" content that could possibly go viral.

5. Look for friends and followers. Whether you're on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, you will need to find as many followers, friends and connections as possible. Without these, your social media messages will fall on deaf ears. Search on each network for keywords related to your business. Find the pages of key influencers, bloggers, news writers and competitors, and find out who they're following. It may take a little bit of persistence, but you will eventually gather a throng of curious friends, followers and connections.

6. Engage your connections. Whenever possible, engage your followers and friends in a personal way that allows them to see the face behind your business. One of the most attractive things about social media is how it lets regular people connect on a more personal level with brands, celebrities and media personalities. Find creative ways to provide valuable content to your followers and you will keep them engaged and interested. This way, when you use the media to promote a new product or service, you will already have their attention.

Remember, a successful social media strategy is all about exponential growth. The whole concept of "going viral" is what fuels the marketer's obsession with these networks, because you never know when a post on your page will be shared, retweeted and posted across multiple sites on the Internet. Not only will this give your business instant notoriety; it can be done at no cost. As you build these virtual "relationships" within your social networks while providing valuable and interesting content, you are building a solid reputation for your business.

Photo Courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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