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Using Social Media

By Ken Sundheim

The widespread use of the Internet and the evolution of the web as a platform for communication rather than just an information source has opened up myriad possibilities for businesses to promote themselves online.  In addition to having a company website, it is now common place for businesses to have a Facebook page, Twitter account, professional blog and for company members to be connected via LinkedIn.  Access to all these social media tools is easy and costs nothing.  Merely having them, however, is not enough.  One of the most incredible things about social media is the fact that it is instantaneous and can provide a live feed of status updates, news and real time conversations.  Therefore, it is useless if it remains stagnant.  

A Brief Guide - Social Media for Businesses: Utilizing social media to promote a business can seem like a daunting task.  Despite being easy to set up, the sheer volume of users and constant buzz can make it seem impossible to penetrate.  However, using social media to your advantage is not as hard as it appears.  The key is understanding that it does not work by itself.  It is not enough to simply set up a Facebook page and Twitter account and then expect the rest to happen on its own.  Social Media is a useful means of mass communication, but you (or your business) are still the main communicator. Think of social media as a conversation between your company and your customers.  If you stop talking, the conversation will be over.  

The key to making social media work for your business is a system of feed, acknowledgement and response.  Feed information to your audience in order to open up the conversation.  This information can be as simple as a comment about a new product, a company update or an industry relevant piece of news.  What is most important is that your updates are frequent and consistent.  In addition to sending out information, acknowledge any responses or relevant information that comes your way.  If a customer tweets about a visit to your store or mentions something about your product, acknowledge them with a simple response.  This makes your customers feel valued by your business and engages a conversation, thus helping to build relationships that will lead to business growth.  Once the conversation has been initiated, make sure that you keep it going.  Be diligent about noting the things that people respond to.  Perhaps an article you posted received absolutely no response, but a coupon offer gained you a slew of new followers.  Make a note about what your customer base responds to and tailor the way you use social media accordingly.

A Live Form that Continues to Grow: If you are just beginning to integrate social media into your marketing efforts, be patient. It may take some time to start seeing results and getting any response from it.  At the same time, it is important to be relentless about your own learning approach to social media.  The web is growing at lightning speed and it seems that there are new developments in the ways social media can be used every single day.  Educate yourself about the latest tech developments, trends and controversies.  Without consistent research, it is easy to get left behind.  

Read other articles and learn more about Ken Sundheim.

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