Using Social Media to Promote Your Business

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I’m preparing a talk right now to present to my business networking group. What to say? I get the opportunity every few months to talk to this group and am always looking for something interesting to talk about so I don’t get too many glazed over looks peering back at me. Talking to any group at 7 a.m. in the morning is pretty daunting.

So I decided to spend some time talking about Social Networking. Ah, the potential minefield of talking about something I don’t feel particularly “expert” about is just the challenge I needed today. I can use this as a chance to research and expand my personal knowledge base, right. Righttttttttttt. Ugh. So dive in I did. And what it really reminds me of is that being authentic and honest in today’s business world is still one of my best assets. I do not consider myself a Social Media Guru. But I do know marketing. And I do see the waves created by Social Media….and the confusion. I also don’t take a lot of my own advice…..things like blogging regularly.

Sometimes presenting yourself as a case study is the perfect way to set up your argument for a creative and sensible approach to Social Media and Business Promotion. So “Tweet” that, buddy.

Facts are that Social Media is an important part of an effective business strategy. Many businesses have not yet jumped on the social media superhighway, so there is opportunity here for us to take some ground. But as in any effective outreach, the bottom line is still trust. Consumers trust “marketing” less and less these days, and research shows that a growing number of us depend on a “person like me” as a reliable source of information about a company. I’ve grown my company from personal connection and referrals. I’ve watched my business networking group help keep fellow business owners afloat during the Great Recession. Personal connection and trust matter. They matter a lot. And Social Media, if done correctly, helps build that trust.

So how do you start? There are countless ways to attack the beast, but here are a few I have seen work:

Blog

A blog provides a personal face to your company and keeps your customers updated about your industry. Short and to the point, a good blog positions you as an expert and provides quality content for Google to index (and tie back to you and your company through search). You can have a stand alone blog, or better yet, have it link from your company website. It shouldn’t be a place to just self-promote. It’s great to announce your latest project or product, but better yet to become the blog that links to other relevant sites or reposts great articles about your industry.

Free WordPress blogs start here.

Facebook Fan Pages

Facebook Fan Pages can be created through your personal Facebook account. You can set up a page for your company and then share the page with all your Facebook “Friends”, inviting them to be “Fans” of your page. Maybe that old college friend has no idea you sell real estate and never would have known to refer you to their cousin who is relocating to your town. If done professionally and with thought, a Facebook Fan page is a great way to expose your social network to your business.

Facebook Fan Pages Info here.

Linked In

Linked In, a social network for business professionals is the stuffy “Facebook” of the working world. Here you can provide information about the jobs you’ve held and make connections with former colleagues, classmates and business acquaintances. Lots of people think of Linked In as the place to go to find a new job, but I’ve found it to be another great place to let people know about my company and make connections that help grow my business.

Check it out here.

There’s a new “latest and greatest” social media tool in the making as I write, that’s for sure. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or left behind by today’s social media hype. But just remember the old advice about eating an elephant… just do it one bite at a time.