How-To Use Social Media for Your Business

Social Media has become part of our culture, a form of communication and it should play a pivotal role on your daily to-do list when it comes to you business. I cam across an article on on ways to use social media to improve your business.

1. Offer a peek behind the scenes. Offering a sneak preview of new products, services, or features online can help build demand and provide critical feedback to help smooth the launch. For instance, John Doyle, founder of chocolate company John and Kira's in Philadelphia, posts photos of new products on Flickr and invites comments from customers.

 2.Demonstrate what your company does. Because multimedia is so integral to social media, getting connected  allows you to express your company's value proposition beyond words. To show just how powerful his company's blenders were, Blendtec's head of marketing, George Wright, created a series of videos showing the appliances churning up such diverse items as a rotisserie chicken, a Rubik's Cube, and an iPhone. The series' 100 million combined views helped boost Blendtec's sales by 700 percent.

3. Interact with visitors—really. Just putting up a blog or a Facebook fan page won't do much good if visitors sense the flow of conversation only goes one way. In fact, Matt Mullenweg, founder of blogging platform WordPress, lists not participating in comments as a surefire way to kill a community. Mullenweg and his team field the many suggestions users have for WordPress through his

4. Find potential customers. A quick keyword search can help you find prospective customers who may not be aware of your company but could nonetheless benefit from your product or service. Bob Scaglion, a senior managing director at New York real-estate management company Rose Associates, generates 100 leads per month on Twitter for his company simply by replying to users whose tweets include phrases such as "moving to New York City" and
"no-fee rentals.

5. Help others promote you. Social media can help you find passionate customers who are more than willing to spread the word about your company. Crafts supplies manufacturer Fiskars reached out to scrapbookers by inviting four avid users to blog. Its crafts community, called Fiskateers, has since attracted 5,000 users who serve as brand evangelists.

6. Cultivate relationships that lead to sales. Soon after he joined Twitter, J.R. Cohen, manager of The Coffee Groundz, a Houston coffee shop, began encouraging his followers to visit him in his shop. He began getting to know customers so well that they not only initiated conversations with him through Twitter—they began tweeting orders through the site as well. Now Cohen periodically fields menu requests through Twitter, though he doesn't use the page primarily for that purpo

7. Find ways to engage visitors offline. In March, Cinda Baxter, a retail consultant in Minneapolis, ended a blog post on local business with one simple idea: choose three businesses to support, and spend a combined amount of $50 per month. The post spurred hundreds of inquiries—enough for Baxter to build a standalone website, which has since attracted the support of more than 12,000 businesses. Baxter has used the publicity to bolster her consulting business: she now travels nationwide to advise retailers on building support within their communities.

8. Find influential people in your industry. In addition to maintaining your blog, make sure to keep your eyes open to what others in the industry are buzzing about online. Reading independent blogs and joining industry groups on Facebook and LinkedIn is a good way to join the larger conversation. Spoonflower, a fabric design site based in Mebane, North Carolina, has built its community of more than 40,000 users primarily through word of mouth on crafts blogs.

9. Boost your credibility by helping others. For service providers, establishing yourself as an expert in the field can
bring in a steady stream of business. LinkedIn's Answers feature enables business owners to do just that. Heidi Cool, a Web design consultant in Cleveland, browses LinkedIn Answers for inquiries related to her industry and spends one to two hours per week answering them. In one month, she generated 29 leads for her services directly from her responses.

1o. Reward customer loyalty. Through social media, companies can not only run promotions more frequently than coupons in the mail will permit but also devise more whimsical and engaging campaigns. Sprinkles Cupcakes, a bakery chain based in Beverly Hills, California, uses Twitter to send out daily promotional offers. The tweets, which ask customers to whisper a "password" to receive a free treat, have helped the company draw more than 17,000 followers.

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