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Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn Oh my!

If you’ve spent any time online in the last six months you’ve probably stumbled across a social media site or two. Facebook – once a place for college coeds to hook up – has gone mainstream. LinkedIn has taken the art of networking to the next level. And the new kid on the block has many atwitter micro-blogging – or at least signing up for an account and trying to figure out just what to do with Twitter. So as a small business owner why should you care? Here are some reasons why your company should get involved:

Exposure
If you’re looking to grow your business, you can enhance your traditional marketing efforts, such as mentioning your Facebook or Twitter accounts in your direct mail, to gain more prospects and their information. Additionally, having social media pages for your company, especially LinkedIn, oftentimes improves your search engine rankings.

Learn about your target market
Just as important as reaching your target market is learning about them. Social media tools allow you to learn what your customers like and dislike. These are important insights and can help you develop your marketing plan.

Monitor reputation
Along with learning how your target market thinks, it’s important to learn what people think about your business. Through social media you can read what people are saying about your company and can handle possible damaging situations in a timely matter.

Free
Social media is the new press release. Marketing professionals always advised business owners to work with their local media to get some free publicity. Now you can generate your own at no cost. But social media sites take time and can be addictive. So think strategically about how you want to use each of the tools.

Before you jump into social media, think strategy before technology. So many companies set up a page not knowing exactly what to do and after it hasn’t been touched in a month it reflects poorly on their company. Take a look at what your competition is doing locally. Look at the trends in your industry. Social media is a give and take relationship anyway. You have to participate in the conversation and give people a reason to be interested in you before you can expect to get anything out of social media.

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