There's no doubt about it, social media is now an essential part of how we engage with others, source information, and stay connected with family, friends and our favorite brands.
But social media marketing, and by this I mean using social media as another vehicle to connect with your customers and raise the profile of your business with them and others like them, is still a relatively new domain for large and small businesses alike. In fact, according to a December 2009 survey by research firm, Ad-ology, 46% of small business owners wish they knew more about social media!
So where do you start?
Here are some of our best articles and guides from across the Business.gov Community that can help you understand what social media can do for your business and how to do it!
Getting Started with Social Media Marketing
So many businesses make the mistake of jumping on the social media bandwagon via Twitter or Facebook, without any forethought or planning. Very quickly they realize they are-t seeing any ROI and lose interest.
Success in social media marketing depends on the same sort of planning, understanding of customers, and hard work that more traditional marketing channels require. This article offers some tips on where to start, and how to succeed: Getting Started with Social Media Marketing.
Understand the Tools Available to You (and their Role in your Social Media Strategy)
Whether you are new to social media or are somewhat of an old hand- yo'll know the landscape is vast and constantly evolving. New social media sites and tools come and go, and those we know and trust are constantly introducing enhancements. What does this mean for your business, and how do you find the right social media network for your business goals? To help you understand more about the top three social media marketing tools' Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn' and what they can and ca't do for your business, read: Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn? Finding the Right Fit for Your Small Business.
Make Your Web Site Social and Searchable!
One major mistake that you want to avoid is thinking that your social media presence' whether i's a Facebook page or a blog' can replace a business Web site. It ca't and mustn't. For one thing, your Facebook page won't help you get found on search engines. Your Web site should remain your online hub for product and service information, lead capture devices, blogs, and your best bet for helping your business get found in online searches.
Here are a few articles that can help you build and promote a Web site that is social-media friendly through blogs, search engine optimization, and more:
Building Your Brand and Drumming up Business
Social media is a great tool for brand-building because it provides a way for businesses to get out there and get noticed - essentially to be where your customers are and to create a community around your brand. Done right, social media can also help you drum up business. Sites like Groupon use the viral power of social media and the collective power of purchasing to draw in business, but you can also use Facebook and Twitter to showcase your latest promotion, product launch, etc. to give your followers a reason to do business with you. And don't forget to track, measure and adjust your efforts.
Read more in this article: Small Business Marketing: Making Social Media Pay Off for your Brand and Your Bottom Line.
Being Social - Know How to Engage!
To return to my earlier point, just getting on Twitter or Facebook is not enough, because while it's free and easy to build a social media presence, when it comes to growing it and seeing ROI - social media marketing is easier said than done. But just how do you get social? This article spotlights one award-winning business, that has done just that, and it's a whole lot easier than you might think! Read: Putting the Social into Social Media Marketing - 3 Tips for Interacting with your Customers.
Check out these useful Google / SBA Tools for Online Success quick videos, for insight directly from small business owners on how they've used the Internet, including free listings and social media, to grow their business.
For more marketing tips, take a look at this Small Business Marketing Guide which includes information and resources about conducting market research, writing a marketing plan, developing an online marketing strategy, etc.