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5 Ways to Use Social Media to Market Your Business

While the midday Scotch on the rocks and flashy client meetings in Mad Men may be appealing, it's time to face facts: the marketing game has changed. Social media is the craze that didn't go away, and if you're not using social media for marketing yet, your business is suffering. So you're not a social media buff? Don't understand what all the hype is about? Relax. It’s easier than you think to use social media for marketing to launch your business into cyber-success.

1. Get out there!

There are several different platforms to choose from when using social media for marketing: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+ (is that still a thing?), Pinterest . . . the list goes on. Figure out which ones your target audience is most likely to use and sign on up, but don't shy away from unconventional social media platforms, either!

Understand the differences between these platforms and use them to your advantage. Showcase your product line on Pinterest, offer birthday specials to customers on Facebook, retweet every positive tweet that comes your way, or cater what you share to specific Circles on Google+. (Ha! OK, we'll stop with the Google+ barbs now . . . maybe.)

It doesn't hurt to think outside the box a little, either. You could post a how-to article on Facebook or your company's website (like this one, hmmm . . .), or you could easily plug that same content into a how-to video on YouTube for the added bonus of ranking higher in related Google searches. The bottom line is, using social media for marketing lets you get your message out in fresher, more interesting ways than you could with a standard business website.

For more ideas on how get the most out of each platform, check out this article by the For Dummies folks.

2. Keep your brand image consistent.

While you won't use the different social media platforms for all the same purposes, you'll want to maintain a consistent brand image. Make sure your username and logo are the same on every account and that you have an identifiable look and tone. You want people to be able to recognize your brand easily; even the best message won't do any good if can't be traced back to you. Remember, too, that visuals are important—a sloppy, amateurish Facebook page will hurt your brand more than help it.

3. Mix it up!

People join social media to be—you guessed it—social! Your followers will start dropping faster than a politician's Election Day promises if all they see are ads for your services. Diversify your posts with interesting or funny images, articles, videos, and links related to your industry to get people to click that Subscribe button. In between all the hilarious and thought-provoking content, you can slip in posts about your services that won't come across as pushy advertising.

Consider using a social media editing service to ensure that these are effective, optimized, and error-free. Not only will more people see the vital information your company needs them to see, they'll subconsciously develop a positive attitude toward your brand. Before you know it, you'll have your own marketing army—for free!

4. Engage your audience and connect with your influencers.

If there's one thing the Internet has taught us, it's that people love to share their opinions (as confirmed by a quick visit to the comments section of any YouTube video). Pose simple poll questions or participation challenges (remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?) to interact with your audience directly and get your posts seen by more people. By doing this, you'll also gain valuable insights into your customers' motivations and preferences.

While you're at it, take advantage of the power of social media to connect your business with people you would never be able to access otherwise. Start following well-known influencers in your industry. Did a celebrity just tweet something relatable? Awesome. Retweet it immediately.

5. Measure your (and your competitors') success.

When using social media for marketing, it's easy to monitor your progress using tracking data. Google Analytics is a good place to start, and it's easy to use. There's no reason to feel as if you're playing a game with rules you don't understand. The ability to see which of your posts generated the most clicks on your website can be a huge help in determining what works and what doesn't when using social media for marketing.

Do a little snooping around on your own, too. Check out the social media profiles of your competitors. How are they using social media for marketing? What platforms are they using? Do they have more followers than you do? What are they doing differently? The awesomeness of social media is that new trends are always appearing. Keeping track of what your competitors have latched on to can keep you from falling behind.

You don't have to be intimidated by social media, and your business doesn't have to miss out on the critical exposure it offers. It only takes a few minutes to sign up for each account, and then it's up to you. Be bold. Be creative. And take comfort in knowing that you're exposing your business to a customer base you could never have reached otherwise. You get to be your business's own TV station, magazine, and newspaper. So get started!



Image source: Saulo Mohana/

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