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Easy ways to use social media marketing

Social media is all the rage right now and it seems like just about every business is using social media to gather market research information and to market their products to their customers. Social media is free to use, which makes it extremely attractive to many businesses that have smaller budgets and are unable to spend large amounts of money on their marketing efforts.

What does social media marketing include? There are several outlets to choose from but most businesses stick with blogs and websites like Facebook and Twitter. Depending upon your industry and your target market, you may need to consider looking into LinkedIn and other social media sites.

If you are new to social media, spend some time to get familiar with it first. You need to understand how the different sites work and what type of audiences are on those sites. Twitter is very different from Facebook so it takes time to learn the different social media worlds and to figure out how you can integrate them into your online marketing strategy.

Once you are familiar with social media sites, it's time to integrate them into your business. Follow these easy tips and you will be on your way to success:
1. Have a personality. The whole point of social media is to connect and interact with others. People like to connect with actual people that are employed by the company. They want to see that you have a personality and you aren't just out there to get them to buy your products. Join the discussion boards and talk with your customers. Get to know them on a personal level so you can hold actual conversations with them and develop better products for your customers. Everyone that uses the social media page must be able to follow the rules you lay out in order to connect with your customers.
2. Provide value. When you post a blog or a tweet pertaining to a new product launch, you also need to consider other tweets and posts that your customers will be interested in. Sure discounts are great but they want to learn more about your industry and the content should lead to more than exposure. Focus on generating conversations and actually getting to know your customers instead of constantly marketing to them. Adding rich content helps to set your business apart from others in the industry, providing you with a stronger reputation and hopefully generating more revenue for the company.
3. Get to know your customers. Social media is a great way to gather market research and you don't even need to pay for it. When you are using the site, join the discussion boards and learn about your customers and what they are talking about. The more you focus on building relationships with them and learning about their needs, the easier it will be for you to develop stronger marketing strategies for your customers. Consider starting up a few conversations with your customers in the discussion boards, this is a great way to show them your company has personality and that you don't ignore your customers.
4. Branding. Social media provides you with a great opportunity to brand your business. You need to remain consistent on the social media site and include various marketing efforts that help to promote your company and link your page with your website.
5. Learn about your industry. You will notice that a lot of your competitors will be on social media sites. This provides you with a great opportunity to get to know them a little better to see what type of marketing they are doing.

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