How to Use Social Media

With millions of tweets everyday and billions of minutes logged on Facebook, the social media explosion has created a new venue for businesses to reach potential customers. Before you create accounts at every social media venue, however, it's important to understand what social media can and can't do for your businesses.

Social media garnered popularity by providing a place where people could have discussions without being overwhelmed by advertising messages. In order to use social media successfully, you'll need to respect the unwritten rules for businesses. Social media is about conversations, not about sales pitches. Companies who have created effective social media strategies have done so by being aware of the conversations that are already taking place around the web and joining them in order to provide meaningful information. If you barge into a discussion with a sales pitch, you'll alienate your audience. Rather, the goal is to answer their questions with useful ideas. If your product can meet a need, say so, but be careful that your comment doesn't come across as too sales-y.

By providing helpful information and joining conversations discreetly, you'll build recognition and loyalty in your audience, diffuse potentially negative discussions, and reach audiences that you would have no access to otherwise. You may not see an immediate jump in sales, but the benefits you do achieve will have farther reaching consequences that will carry your business forward into the future.

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