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By Wendy A. Reynolds

Social media and your small business

So, you have decided to take the plunge and give your business a social media presence. Here are four quick tips to get you started before you create that Pinterest account.

1. Ask yourself WHY.

Are you going to set up a Twitter feed just because everyone else has one? Or is Twitter really a good way to reach your current customers and find new ones? Good social media marketing starts with defining your objectives and then creating a marketing plan to reach them.

A great place to start is by looking at the social media pages your biggest competitor uses. How many people follow them on Facebook? Is their Pinterest page very popular? What do they post on Twitter that seems to be retweeted often? Study their successes and failures to help you develop a plan of action for your own brand.

2. Are you really ready for a commitment?

In order for social media marketing to work, you have to commit to creating the content it needs, posting it, and responding to your community when they post on it. Appoint a community manager who will be responsible for creating content, monitoring your account activity and interacting with your followers. Setting up a social media schedule through a free app like Hootsuite will help coordinate postings to all your accounts as well.

3. Promote, promote, promote.

You have built the page, you are updating it daily with new, fresh content to engage your audience – but where is your audience? Make sure that you include your social media information on all of your other collateral from now on. Adding a Facebook or Twitter icon to the bottom of your business cards, on your Sunday ad in the paper and even on your company website will let your audience know you are ready to engage with them through social media.

4. Keep it social!

People follow social media accounts because they are engaged in the content on a personal level. If all you are posting are your latest sales and your newest items in stock, you are leaving out the biggest part of the whole experience – being social. The current thinking is a posting ratio of three to one: for every one “selling” post, such as a special discount offer, you should post no less than three posts that are more social in nature.

For example, if you own a clothing boutique, you could create a Facebook post featuring the latest runway look, a Pinterest pin featuring a hot new trend in accessories, or a YouTube video showing how to put together a day-to-evening outfit. Keep your “social” posts in the realm of your business – after all, your customers are interested in what you have to say as an expert in that field – but do not use them as a hard sell opportunity. They are meant to give your followers fun and interesting tips and information and generate comments that lead to discussions (and brand ambassadors).

Remember, social media is just that – social. Commit to updating your pages daily with fresh, engaging content that does not just promote your latest sales event, but creates a lasting, positive impression of your brand that your audience will enjoy, interact with and remember.

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