How To Use Social Media to Promote Your Business | Reader's Digest

How To Use Social Media to Promote Your Business

To get new customers and keep old ones coming back, try these 4 tips on how to social media to your business' advantage.

By Stacy Johnson from readersdigest.com

The Internet has made it easier than ever to make and maintain relationships with your customers. You only need to spend a little time developing the knowledge and familiarity with social networking tools to see an immediate (and free) boost to your clientele. Stacy Johnson from MoneyTalksNews.com shares his 4 easy tips on how to take your small business to the next level.

1. Location-based networking

While location-based networking may sound sophisticated, the idea is simple enough: Reach out to people in your immediate geographic area and try to get them to stop by your business. Think of it as the high tech version of standing on a street corner and waving a sign at passing motorists, except instead of standing on a street corner, you’re combining the GPS tracking feature of smart phones with applications like Foursquare, Loopt and Centrl to bring nearby customers into your business.

2. Social networking

According to Jay Berkowitz of Ten Golden Rules, another way to attract customers is to incorporate Twitter and Facebook into your marketing. They’re free, effective ways to reach old and new customers alike.

“Entertain them, surprise them once and a while, put a special up find different ways for them to want to be friends with you in these social media environments,” Berkowitz tells me. He also suggests these sites:

  • MySpace allows you to create a profile like Facebook, but gives you more freedom over the design.
  • YouTube is a free video streaming service where you can post videos about your business.
  • Flickr is site that will let you upload photos of your business. Posting pictures of fun events will encourage others to join you next time.
  • Google Buzz is a bit like Twitter and Facebook, but much newer. You can share promotions and coupons with contacts, who can then re-share them with their own friends.

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3. Email

Stay in front of your customers by regularly sending out an email newsletter. Give people an incentive to join your mailing list by offering a discount or giveaway for new signups. But once you’ve got a mailing list, don’t use it to annoy or sell things, but rather to offer information about things your subscribers may be interested in; maybe a recipe for simple home-made pizza, new cooking techniques you’ve discovered or new menu items. And, of course, mixed in with those interesting articles will be incentives to get them back in the door, like coupons or special discounts. You can start your mailing list today with a site set up for sending mass emails like Constant Contact, Vertical Response or MailChimp. They’ll also help ensure your mailing is complaint with the CAN-SPAM Act, meant to reduce junk email.

4. News feeds

Set up a blog online and give out the address to your blog’s RSS Feed (Really Simple Syndication) on your website. Your customers can subscribe to the RSS Feed using common software like Outlook, Firefox, Safari or Google Reader, and will be automatically notified whenever you post something new on your site. It’s a great way to stay in almost instant contact and ensure your customers never miss another one of your promotions.

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