7 Tips for Building Business through Social Media

Online social networking may have started out as a great way to connect with old friends or get a date.

But it has since developed into a valuable business tool that finds companies of all sizes and across all industries using it to locate customers, communicate with existing clients, and gain market share.

There are many ways companies can tap the power of online social networking. Here are 7 tips you can use to build your business using social media:

1. Integrate social media into your overall marketing plan.

Instead of just posting the occasional tweet or Facebook update, you should look at social networking as an important component of your firm’s marketing approach.

Use similar logos, company messages, and information across all of your channels, and you’ll avoid confusing and alienating potential customers.

2. Promote social media deals.

Come up with different specials and promotions for Facebook fans, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, and so on. Get creative with the development of these deals, and use the offers as a way to test out different audiences and offers.

If, for example, you have a particularly large Facebook following, you can even break some of your offers down by the hour or day to test out interest in your firm’s products and services.

3. Set up landing pages.

Instead of sending your friends and followers to your corporate website for more information and specific content, set up several landing pages that support and endorse the deals that you’re promoting.

If you’re offering your social media networking contacts 10 percent off their next purchase of services, for example, set up a landing page that specifically spells this out and tells prospects how to contact you to take advantage of the deal. This will help minimize confusion and ensure that visitors get an eyeful of your call to action immediately.

4. Know your audience.

Throwing darts and hoping something sticks doesn’t work in the offline world, and it’s definitely not a fruitful way to conduct a social media networking campaign.

Decide on the top few primary audiences you would like to market via social media networking, and then devise a plan for reaching these groups. Be sure to include in your research exactly which social media platforms will work best to drive traffic to your website and landing pages.

5. Participate in groups.

On the professional business networking site LinkedIn, you can easily make yourself an active participant by simply giving a few minutes a day to group activities.

Be prepared to share your insight and experience in the ongoing discussions to benefit the community in an unselfish way without trying to work any “sales pitches” into the conversation. Be honest and trustworthy with your advice and conversation, and the customers will come.

6. Leverage your content.

Social networking is the perfect platform for sharing useful, engaging content that ranges from articles and whitepapers to blogs and news releases.

If group conversation or tweets relate to a topic that you’re an expert in, for instance, seize the opportunity by uploading a related blog or white paper that your friends and followers can learn from.

7. Go beyond the basics.

To truly leverage social networking sites, you’ll want to incorporate some of the advanced tools that go beyond tweets and walls.

Using Twitter as an social media example, you can check out desktop and mobile Twitter clients like HootSuite, Seesmic, and Tweetie, all of which provide more flexibility and control over your Twitter strategy than you’d get from the Twitter website.

With these applications and others like them, you can pre-define searches (so you can monitor certain keywords, including your business and product names, for example) and define (and color-code) various custom searches that you can review from time to time and use to your advantage.

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