When you think of social media you probably think of Facebook and videos of kittens or more information than we need to know about the family with all of the names that begin with a K. But social media is really so much more and can be a serious tool in growing and promoting your small business.

The good news is the Internet has changed the way we market ourselves. Much of what we did to reach our target audience had to do with print advertising, direct mail pieces, and expensive telephone book ads. While print advertising still has its place, it’s still expensive and too high of an investment for most small businesses to get involved in, especially when social media is free.

The first thing you need to get out of your head are your preconceived ideas about social media. You have to look at the plus side of the social part because this is where you are going to be able to expand your business. Exposure through the media is what it’s all about. We have all seen silly little snippets of something “go viral.” The key here is taking your business to the next level through increased exposure using the tools that social media offers. Here are some ways to get started.

  1. Facebook

Probably one of the best places to start is through Facebook. You can create a Facebook page for your business and begin promoting your business from day one. You can use your personal Facebook page to introduce your business to friends and family members and if you have a few friends who have a large following you’re already going to be exposed to hundreds of new people you never would have known about.

  1. Videos

Even if you are not photographic, if you have a skill or a talent or anything you can show that will promote your products or services, there is nothing like a video to gather attention and quickly. Once you create the video, which only has to be a minute of two, you can feature it on your Facebook page. Use the right keywords so it will pop up when people are doing a search. You will be surprised how quickly word will spread. You should even consider a series.

  1. Email

This is a tricky tool but all you have to do is remember that you have to gather “permission based emails.” You do not want to become spam. You need to start offering discounts or coupons on your website for people who can spread the word for you and get their friends to sign up to receive your email. Once you begin building your base, create a newsletter where you can keep encouraging others to join in and your client base will really begin to expand.

  1. Blogs

Create a blog on your website and publish some of your comments on your Facebook page as well. When you start writing a blog, or have someone write blogs for you, you can direct the topics to anything you would like to cover. You should also go to common blogs and comment on them and use your website or your blog URL as your signature which will bring new readers to your blog. Any time you can join in an online conversation that is consistent with what your business does you can start attracting a crowd of your own.

  1. Keep tweeting. If you have a twitter account, it only takes a few minutes to throw out a topic or a special or information on an upcoming event. You can follow people yourself and hopefully you will begin to gather a crowd of followers yourself.
  1. Use your Facebook page to showcase contests, new products, and special sales events so you can get the attention of the people who need your services. Everyone likes to be in on the latest thing as well as getting a good deal on something they plan on buying. It will be worth it to do whatever you need to now in order to grow your client base. Whatever information you can gather about the spending habits of your potential and existing customers is worth its weight in gold.

Some other resources that you can utilize, however pick only 1-2 and be consistent at those instead of several with inconsistency. Some popular sites are: Twitter, Quora, Tumblr, OGoing, Hot Frog, Merchant Circle, and stumble upon. Now Hot Frog and Merchant Circle are a hybrid, they are really a business directory but have area for blogs, products, and services to be posted anytime you want. merchant circle takes it to even a step further and does a lot for local marketing, though there have been many complaints with how they get traffic and what happenes to it. Some business accuse them of stealing there traffic and directing them into different business’s etc, though there is no proof to MC doing this. Even for White Rapids we never rely on these sites and what they sell to get us traffic and clients.  we use them but would never pay for there SEO or marketing services, not becasue we do that but becasue they really are a waste of money and that gets proven time and time again when we get clients who have been burnt by them and other similar sites.

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