Five Steps for Social Media Marketing Using Free Web Technology

Social media have become a powerful small business marketing technology for entrepreneurs who truly understand how to network effectively. Just posting ads or special offers won’t work on systems where viewers can easily tune you out. Follow these five steps to turn your own social media marketing effort into a success.

Social Media Marketing Step #1: Be generous.

You can use tweets and Facebook status updates to do so much more than just let friends know what you’re having for dinner. Add information to the social web that opens dialogue or informs followers about your specialty. Participating in Twitter’s Follow Friday (#ff) tradition lets you call out other influential community members. Understanding your target audience can help you craft the tips, hints, and news items that impact your online presence.

Social Media Marketing Step #2: Get focused.

If you hope to build your followers list to more than a few hundred close friends, you may want to focus your updates on your area of business expertise. Facebook makes this a little simpler by allowing members to create dedicated “pages” that collect fans instead of friends. This way, your customers can be “fans” of the content and events you post, while only your “friends” see pictures of your cat.

Social Media Marketing Step #3: Be a hub for your community.

The most effective social media marketers take their online relationships into the real world. Small business marketing technology lets you geotag your posts to encourage real-world interaction while hosting live “tweetups” for your customers. using your business as a stage for your community networking can boost your foot traffic and your credibility. Participating in live events, or following along with trending hashtags on Twitter can put you at the center of your audience’s real world, as well as their virtual experience.

Social Media Marketing Step #4: Be enjoyable.

Nobody wants to see a pocket of sludge in their river of news. Social media sites, since their origin, have been a little snarky and fun. Yes, it’s right to call out controversy when that’s a part of your role in the community. Just remember that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Posting about the music you’re playing in your business or playing along with trending gags can take the edge off a serious persona while managing your company’s online presence.

Social Media Marketing Step #5: Be authentic.

Of course, none of these steps will actually work if you don’t project your authentic self through social media networks. Looking at yourself through Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace may feel like trying to project your shadow through a thick gauze. You may even have to exaggerate elements of your personality to get your point across. But if the updates, pictures, and videos you post don’t connect back to your real self, your audience will see right through you. When that happens, your business suffers.

Thanks to social media, marketing small business products and services has become easier than ever. Twitter, Facebook, and personal blogs come with few rules, but plenty of opportunities to turn off potential customers. Stay honest and engaged if you want to build the kind of relationships that will sustain your business.

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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