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Don’t Be Afraid of Social Media

There’s so much to keep up with when one owns a business, especially when it comes to marketing.  Traditional advertising doesn’t work as well as it used to because people are on the Internet looking through Facebook, reading Twitter tweets, or watching for their friend’s next Instagram picture.  If you don’t use social media to promote your product or service, now is the time to start.

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Credit: Flickr (jasonahowie) http://bit.ly/1pEkixw

Promoting Through Social Media

Like anything else in life, if you want to be successful, you need a plan.  Entrepreneurs who jump into social media without one are usually disappointed with the results.  The Internet is littered with Facebook pages hastily put up by well-intentioned businesses that are just collecting dust, and blog sites that have long been abandoned.  To launch a successful social media campaign, you must be consistent, providing content to it on a regular basis over time.  By having a steady stream of social media content, you can reach and exceed common benchmarks, increase public awareness, and draw customers to your business.

Choose a Medium

Should you start with Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, or something else?  It’s best to pick one medium of interacting to start.  Learn about the different possibilities, and which one is best for you by looking at some recent demographic studies on the topic.  None of the popular social media tools is particularly difficult to use, but each has its strengths and weaknesses.

CNN breaks down ten of the top social media sites, highlighting best use practices for businesses.  Facebook and YouTube top their list of recommended sites for any business.  Other social media opportunities can be found with Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram.  Forbes.com highlights Google+, and predicts that MySpace will make a comeback.

Decide Your Target Customer

Do you want to build a customer base of working mothers, senior citizens, or college students?  Deciding whom to target with your social media campaign is the first step.  All of these populations will use social media differently, and will be looking for different content or information.  Of course, you don’t have to target just one group of people, but it’s best to start out with one target group and experiment to find out what works.

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Engage People with Content

What information or content can you offer your target audience that will interest them?  Have a content strategy that plays to your strengths, and encourages interactivity with your audience.  Can they share the information easily with others?  Is the information useful, adding something to their lives?  Hard sell, much like traditional advertising, is less effective these days.

Get Started

According to eMarketer, only 24% of business currently use social media for promotion.  That means, the field is wide open to you – if you get started.  Social media is inexpensive, and encourages creativity.  If one strategy doesn’t work after several months, try another one.  Compare your experiences against common benchmarks, and stay abreast of social media studies as you go forward.

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