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What social media can do for your business

Many businesses question whether or not social media is a worthy pursuit for their time and resources. They see some companies succeed using social media campaigns, but they also see many flounder, or have little visible results. Thus, the question they ask themselves is, "What can social media do for my business?" Understanding the impact social media can have on a business can help you determine how much of your resources should be allocated toward it, and in what way.

If used properly, social media tools can be used to do the following three things:
1. Increase brand awareness
2. Drive sales
3. Form strong ties for customer loyalty
In other words, it is a very powerful tool that when used properly has incredible results for businesses. However, learning to use it in order to achieve these objectives takes care, planning, and purpose. Here are a few tips:

1. Select your social media tools wisely. There are lots of social media sites and options available. The biggest are Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Rather than get on every site out there, hit the big ones, and be consistent with your message, and relevant to your industry.
2. Build social equity. You do this by engaging in conversations. A consumer will get sick of you fast if you only post dribble about how amazing you are. In addition to your marketing messages, it is important to engage the customers in conversations, ask opinions, respond to posts, provide value. This helps you build social equity, and eventually your business.
3. Know what you intend to use social media for. Social media can be used for a business in a number of ways, to sell things, to communicate with customers and offer customer support, etc. Determining your goal for your social media use is important. It will help you have a consistent message, and provide more valuable posts.
4. Stay relevant. If you create a Twitter account for your business, don't pollute it with posts about what you had for dinner. Unless you are famous (like Oprah), no one cares, and it will make you lose credibility with followers.
5. Respond. If you create a fan page on Facebook, and a fan posts a complaint, and you ignore it, it will do far more damage than you can imagine. Address complaints, concerns, and even compliments in a forthright manner, quickly, and publically so that other consumers can see that you respond to everyone, and care what your customers think and feel. The response does not have to be perfectly worded, etc. it just has to be prompt, and courteous.

With the right approach, social media allows you to collect invaluable information with a direct line to your consumers, interact with them more intimately, and help your company name spread, your reputation grow, etc.

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