For new businesses finding customers is one of the key priorities. Many small firms lack expertise in a range of areas from accounting to marketing. While they may produce a great product, this lack of expertise can limit their potential and slow their growth. However, social media is one tool that should be part of your marketing strategy from day one (preferably before) when you are running your own business. A massively popular element of new media, social marketing is also far more affordable than gaining business exposure in the old media.

A Free Lunch?

While using social media to market your products can seem like a free lunch scenario, it’s not. It’s important to be clear on this from the start. It may not cost hard earned cash but it will take time to effectively use social media. Time is a commodity that is in just as short a supply as the hard cash type of currency, for most small start-ups. However, it’s important not to waste it if you are to succeed. Ten minutes a month fiddling around on Face Book will be ten minutes wasted; while a few hours a week carefully crafting your strategy will be time well spent. Interacting with social media will generate profit and the time spent crafting your interactions is the investment.

Social Media Strategies and Tips

Product feedback is an excellent way to gain exposure; Twitter is a particularly good forum for this type of marketing technique. Estimates suggest that around thirty two per cent of tweets fall into this type of category. People are looking for trusted sources of information on products and people trust other people more than they trust sales material. Getting your product tweeted positively will make a bigger impact than you might at first realise. It’s also a perfect place to conduct market research; one rule in business that’s worth remembering is “if it’s not out there, create it”. Use Twitter to find out what’s missing in consumers lives.

Press releases are an old fashioned tried and tested form of marketing. Journalists love twitter and social networking sites and if you’ve a product to launch, reaching out to them in advance can help to get a large coverage relevant to your product on launch day. As it’s a micro-blogging site you don’t need to spend hours creating the content to tweet, but time should be spent on researching which journalists to approach. As ever, relevant is the key to success when picking them.

Social media networks are rapidly growing and changing, and the choice this creates is a good thing for business. Some networks may be more appropriate to your product than others; design conscious sites like Pinterest and Fancy can provide the perfect place to research customers, trends and promote your products. Coupon sites are another growing trend in social networking and these can provide rich pickings and big boosts to your order books – which could be valuable in the early days.

Business to business marketing shouldn’t be overlooked either. LinkedIn and similar sites can offer great places to forge partnerships, as well as being useful sources of information and/or services from other firms. Networking has always been crucial to business and working with complimentary firms is one of the oldest tricks in the book to establishing yourself in the early days. This type of thing works both ways and the right attitude to partnership working is essential.

Monitoring trends in social networking and checking regularly for new networks is also essential. Managing a social networking campaign and strategy can be time consuming but it is worth it when you consider the potential for exposure, links and visits back to your site and growth.

Author bio: Carlo Pandian is a freelance writer and blogs about start-ups, technology and business covering everything from QuickBooks online accounting software to cloud computing solutions. He loves reading great entrepreneurs biographies and speaking at conferences about how the internet can help small businesses.

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