Category Archives: Social Media Marketing

Instagram Video

Instagram Video

Instagram Video

The ever-increasing popularity of video marketing has changed the way we view our social media. Video marketing made a big boom earlier this year with the introduction of Vine. Vine is a video sharing app that allows you to shoot and upload six second videos to your Twitter account or Vine profile. Since the popularity of Vine has increased, Instagram has just recently introduced the newest video feature to the beloved photo-sharing app.

Although Vine and Instagram have very similar features, there are a number of differences between the two. Vine allows you to shoot six second videos and upload them to your Vine profile and your Twitter account. With each video that you post, you are able to tag a person in the video and add hashtags to each video.

The new video feature on Instagram allows you to shoot, edit and upload a video to your Instagram profile and your Facebook as well. However, Instagram allows you to shoot 15 second videos, add your favorite filter to the video, and utilize the “selfie favorite”- forward facing camera. Because of the already established user platform associated with Instagram, the new feature made a smooth transition into user feeds everywhere.

Businesses with existing Instagram accounts may have a leg up on the competition. By having established networks to work with, they are able to see their following grow rather than building a following from the ground up on Vine. Instead of planting the seed and watching it grow, on Instagram you already have a blooming flower that will flourish from there.

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How can Instagram video help my business?

There are a number of different ways to use Instagram video for your business. If you take a look at our previous blog entry, Instagram for Business, you can use similar tactics for your videos, but here are a few new ones to help you along the way.

Say hello to your fans!  Or thank them for all that they have done. Or tell them what’s happening. Or what you had for lunch. You can just say anything if you want to. Sending a message to your fans is just another way to connect and build a stronger relationship with them.

Make them the first to know. For any upcoming sale or event, create a video so they know about it first. If you do this continually, the word will get out and you will more than likely gain a larger following, because really- who doesn’t love a sale?

Behind the scenes. Even if you’re just walking into the building up to your desk, film your walk! People who love your company are always intrigued to see what the work space looks like.

Customer  testimonials. Get out on the streets and see why your customers love your product! Not only will they give you feedback, but having someone else vouch for your company really gets people to take a second look at your company or product. (*Be sure to get permission from each testimonial to use them in a video.)

How to use your product. Instead of presenting those silly diagrams or reading the directions, show your customers how to use or wear your product in a short 15 second video.

How it’s made. This is probably the most interesting thing you can do with video. People are always drawn in to see how a product is made, how an idea is created, how something is prepared. Capturing how something is made in a video draws the customer in without giving away your secret.

There are pros and cons to everything, including Instagram video. The only way you’ll find out is by using it and seeing what works best for you. Let us know your thoughts on why you think Instagram video is good for business!

The making of this blog: http://instagram.com/p/bEdsyDxoZ1/

By Katie McGinnis

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Filed under Instagram, Social Media Marketing, Uncategorized

Social Media Etiquette for Business

Be careful when selecting your words.

Be careful when selecting your words.


A social media campaign can make or break your company image, and many companies have made the mistake of letting social media ruin their corporate images. When you’re using your social media sites for business, be sure to be cautious as to what you post. Here are a few tips and tricks to prevent you from destroying your company’s credibility and corporate image.

 Prevention

As my mom says, “Once it’s on the Internet, it’s there forever.” The number one way to make sure your social media campaign runs to the best of its ability is by thinking before you post. If you have something in mind that you would like to post to your social media sites, it’s best to chat with your colleagues beforehand to see what their thoughts are. If someone thinks it might be offensive, it’s best to leave it out of the Internet world. One good rule to follow when it comes to posting is, if you’re doubting it– don’t do it.

 Respect

Let’s face it. Try as you might, there is always someone out there that is a Negative Nancy. If a customer posts something negative on a social media site, it’s best to respect their opinion and respond quickly and courteously – and to not delete the comment. If your product didn’t meet their expectations, it’s best to offer them some type of compensation and a sincere apology. (Whether it is a coupon or a discount on their dinner, a little initiative always goes pretty far.)

Try offering your customers some form of repayment if they are dissatisfied.

Try offering your customers some form of repayment if they are dissatisfied.

What if the comment is rude and profane?

If the customer is disrespectful of a person or is bad mouthing the business for no reason, the comment could be deleted. We suggest trying to avoid deleting comments, because that same customer can  post even more profane and disrespectful comments.

When responding to negative reviews or comments, it’s best to make your responses short, sweet and sincere. If you’re having trouble coming up with appropriate responses, it’s best to seek help from a professional organization. (Be sure to check out our Reputation Management Team.)

 Private Life

If there is one rule that is heard most about running a business, it is to never mix your personal life with your business life. When it comes to social media, this rule is vital. No matter whom you’re mad at or how upset you are, be sure you don’t post about your feelings on your business page. It looks unprofessional, and let’s face it, there’s already enough complaining on Facebook.

 Privacy/Copyright

To put it simply, if it’s not yours- don’t use it. If you find a photo or article that you like and would like to post on your page, be sure to give credit where it’s due. When it comes to tagging your followers in your posts, Facebook prevents any issues that might happen by allowing your followers to tag themselves. This is particularly nice because if someone doesn’t want to be tagged in a photo or a post, there won’t be an issue.

Be sure that you have the authority to use any images or text that you post.

Be sure that you have the authority to use any images or text that you post

Remember to use common sense when posting photos or statuses. Don’t post anything rude or invasive. Make sure that you don’t post personal information, such as photos of someone’s house with their address on it or their email address or phone number. When it comes to posting photos from events, be sure you have permission to post photos of those who had their photos taken- especially kids.

 Tone

In terms of the Internet, whatever you post onto your social media sites represents your business. Make sure your posts are just as professional as any other piece of literature you write for your business. Keep in mind that grammar, punctuation and spelling all roll into the credibility of your company. Also, be sure to leave the CAPS LOCK AT HOME. IT ALWAYS LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE YELLING. He’s a good guy; he just doesn’t always fit in.

 By: Katie McGinnis

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Filed under Reputation Management, Social Media Marketing, Uncategorized

SMM Toolbox – Visual Sites

Many social media sites now emphasize visuals–photos, videos, and other images. As a business owner you can utilize such sites to visually present your business, products, and services. Visual sites are a growing trend, and some already established networks, including Google+ and Facebook, allow site users to post videos and photos on their existing pages. Other sites, including those discussed in this blog entry, are strictly visual and rely more on images and video than text.

YouTube

Today, a great deal of social networking centers around multimedia. YouTube provides a beneficial forum for business owners to broadcast detailed images or dialogue about their businesses. If you recently remodeled or opened a new location, or would just like to show off your current location or products, creating a YouTube channel allows you to upload videos of your business, employees, and customers. You can also add dialogue and links to the videos to enhance your customers’ viewing experiences. Utilizing YouTube and video provides you with a way to visually present your business.

YouTube allows you to upload and store many videos, creating an entire archive of media content about your business. YouTube’s video statistics help you to track video usage and view trends of high activity to determine what works best for your business and to gain increased exposure. To enhance the visual appeal of your YouTube channel, you have the option of adding your business logo and a cover photo, similar to those used on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

YouTube enables you to track your video statistics.

YouTube enables you to track your video statistics.

YouTube videos can easily be embedded on your website, and the video links can be added to other social media pages as well, including Facebook and Google+. Customers using these sites will be able to play the videos directly on each site. It is important to keep in mind that people are interested in people. Posting videos of employees and happy customers will show potential customers that others appreciate your business and may attract an even larger following.

Pinterest

Pinterest is one of the newest and most-discussed forms of social media. It relies on “pinboards” of images that are created and then bookmarked by individual users. Pins are images that can be grouped in any way you like, on boards that site users create and name. As a business owner, you can utilize Pinterest to present images of your business or products and services. These images can be taken from your website and then added to your Pinterest boards. When customers see these boards and pins, they can “repin” the images onto their own boards. Their Facebook and Twitter followers will receive a notification that they repinned your image, and can then log on to find the image themselves. When you create pins, you have the option of making the pin a link to your website. Customers who view the pin will then be automatically redirected to your website. You can also add your website url as a caption.

Business owners can create Pinboards to highlight their businesses.

Business owners can create Pinboards to highlight their businesses.

As a visual media, Pinterest allows for customization and flexibility. You can create a pin from virtually any image on your website, which customers can then access on their own and broadcast to their networks. Pinterest also requires little maintenance: once your Pinterest account and business boards are running, there is little follow-up work needed.

Instagram

Instagram is another photo-based social networking site. Instagram relies solely upon images, which can be edited using a variety of tints and shades, as well as photo effects. Images of food are especially well-suited for and popular on Instagram. As with YouTube, photos of your employees and customers will also be well-received and will provide effective positive marketing for your business. By posting images of your products and services and individuals associated with your business on Instagram, you can reach a new network of individuals.

With Instagram you can post images of products and services.

With Instagram you can post images of your products in action.

Additionally, Instagram can be integrated with Facebook and Twitter, so your Facebook followers will also be notified of your Instagram posts. We discussed Instagram’s utility for businesses in our post on November 9, 2012, “Instagram for Businesses”. Please click here to view this post.

Social Media Toolbox Wrap-up

Social media sites are a great marketing tool allowing you and your customers to interact. Each type of social media offers different benefits, so be sure to maximize your social media marketing by posting the most appropriate content on the right social media sites. If customers respond to your posts, engage with them! The goal of business-oriented social media is not only for you to share information, but to also interact with your customers. Utilizing a wide range of networks suited to your business will help you to optimize your online social media presence. Explore the social network options available and find out which results in the highest customer response!

Social Media of all types can aid your business.

Social Media of all types can aid your business.

By Alissa Monti

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Filed under Instagram, Pinterest, Social Media Marketing, YouTube

SMM Toolbox – Facebook

Facebook is one of the largest and most well-known social networks. There are many ways that you can use it to market your business, products, and services.

Facebook

Used by hundreds of millions worldwide, Facebook provides your business with the potential to reach a large number of people quickly. Facebook’s international basis can bring you into contact with customers who may be from other areas of the world and help you expand your customer base. Facebook allows you to share photographs, videos, or text-based content with your customers and let them know that you are committed to enhancing their experiences with your business. You can also set up polls or events. Each of these tools provides customers with the opportunity to interact with you, which can help expand your visibility and following. Your customers’ friends can see this activity and also interact with you and your business.

Facebook Insights help you track the number of people who view your posts.

Facebook Insights help you track the number of people who view your posts.

Facebook Insights  provide you with a visual breakdown of your business page’s interaction with customers. Using Facebook Insights lets you see how effective your Facebook marketing is. Facebook Insights are available to business page owners and provide helpful charts, such as the one at left, to show you how many people view your posts and how many of them in turn comment, like, share or act on your posts. This can help you determine what types of content, photos or other posts work best.

In addition to Facebook Insights, business owners can set up Facebook ads. When setting up a Facebook ad, you can target specific audiences based on interests, lifestyle, geographic area, and other criteria. Your ad will then appear in the browsers of Facebook users who fit your geographic range and have the interests that you selected. The ad provides a link to your page, event, app, or website so Facebook users can easily reach your content while browsing Facebook.

You can also use sponsored stories to promote interaction with your business. A sponsored story briefly describes an action taken by an individual in relation to your Facebook page. For example, a sponsored story could state “John Smith and two other fans like Your Business”. This sponsored story can then appear in the right-hand margin and on fans’ newsfeeds, both on desktop computers and on mobile devices. Because of the newsfeed appearance and social context, these ads often outperform standard Facebook ads and have lower costs per click.

Sponsored stories can be used to promote posts about your business.

Sponsored stories can be used to promote posts about your business.

There are other payment-oriented ways of utilizing Facebook advertising, including promoted posts. When utilizing promoted posts, you will pay one rate to have whichever types of posts that you select (text, photos, etc.) display on the newsfeeds of page fans and their friends. You are also able to control interest groups and demographics. To learn more about utilizing Facebook for Business and setting up business ads, please click here.

Our Next Post…

Will examine visual social media sites, including YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.

By Alissa Monti

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Filed under Facebook, Social Media Marketing

SMM Toolbox – Google+ and LinkedIn

As a business owner, you have many social media options available to you. The options may seem overwhelming, but all forms of social media can help you spread word of your business and provide you with beneficial, network-based advertising. The trick is to understand your options and decide what will work best for you. We will publish a series of blog posts discussing various social media networks and the ways that business owners can use them. In this post, we will present the benefits of Google+ and LinkedIn.

Google+

Google+ is still growing, but has many current users worldwide. This site allows users to create customized circles based on relationships and interests. For example, you can have circles labeled “friends” or “coworkers” or “fellow gym users”. Websites can contain the Google+ link, allowing page viewers to share content from these pages on Google+. If you add the +1 option to your own website, customers viewing your site can use this to publicly endorse your business, which will be displayed on your website, in searches, and in users’ circles.

Your customers can add your business page to their Google+ circles.

Your customers can add your business page to their Google+ circles.

Google+ allows business owners to add videos and photos and create media-rich pages. The site integrates well with other Google products such as Gmail and YouTube, so customers who utilize those products can easily interact with you through Google+. Many businesses already have a Google+ social page, but by verifying your social page you can convert it to a Google+ local page. Doing so will allow your business to show up on Google maps and gives customers the option to leave reviews about your business. To learn more about Google+ local and social pages, click here.

Google+ also offers “hangouts” so site users can set up teleconferences with customers or employees around the country or around the world. Hangouts are open to up to nine people and can be used to create and share training videos, conduct long-distance interviews, network with colleagues, and share business news. Google+ hangouts provide a video platform from which to interact with others.

An additional benefit Google+ offers is its search engine optimization (SEO) potential.  Google is one of the most widely used search engines and utilizes a complex weighting system to rank internet pages. Whenever internet users conduct searches, the page results that appear are ranked in order of relevance, as determined by Google.  As a Google product, Google+ is weighted high and and a content-rich page can rank very easily, particularly in local search. Google+ results will appear higher in internet searches than other types of social media pages. This added exposure can help potential customers more easily find your business online.

LinkedIn

As a social media tool, LinkedIn not only allows business owners to reach customers, but also enables them  to interact with their colleagues and potential employees. LinkedIn is intended for professional interaction, and as such is ideally suited to business interaction. Potential employees can post their resumes, qualifications, and educational history, while business owners can list job postings and news about their company and industry for other users to follow, and view resumes to recruit potential employees. LinkedIn contains groups for people with related interests, so local business owners or colleagues can create forums for dialogue. These forums are used to discuss local concerns or business trends, as well as to share ideas. Once you have a LinkedIn profile you can set up a LinkedIn business page to provide detailed information about your business and its offerings.  Potential customers viewing these business pages can learn more about your company, as well as products and services that you offer. They can also follow you for updates and other information.

In Our Next Post…

We will discuss Twitter and Foursquare, and their potential business applications.

By Alissa Monti

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Filed under Google+, Google+ Local, LinkedIn, Social Media Marketing

Managing Your Reputation Online

In today’s world, managing your reputation online is extremely important. However, as a small business owner, you have many other priorities, and who has the time to set up and manage a plethora of review sites?  Having an outside company willing to help you with your online reputation is a great way to have cost effective and efficient reputation management.    There are many companies offering Reputation Management products, so it’s imperative to understand what needs to be done; how Reputation Management services can help; and what the long-term benefits are for your business.

Online listings allow people to post reviews about your business.

Online listings allow people to post reviews about your business.

Setting up Business Listings

Get started managing your reputation online by setting up listings on sites that pertain to your business, you never know where people are looking.  There are many review sites, directory sites and search engines offering free business listings, so setting them up may be time consuming, and having a third party’s help can be critical to minimizing your costs, after all, your time is valuable.   These listings are a great way to provide your information for many people to see, so it’s key to supply all of the essentials. Depending on the site settings, some of the extra details you provide may help with SEO, and could end up ranking as well!  Basic listings will include:  address, links to websites, descriptions of the business, hours of operation, payments accepted, and pictures.

Maintaining consistency among your listings allows customers to locate you easily.

Maintaining consistency lets customers locate you easily.

Keeping the information consistent helps eliminate confusion for potential customers.  Even simple things like deciding to abbreviate ‘street’ or providing your office suite number should remain the same for all listings. Generally, providing complete information for your listing will allow your business location to be marked on a map.

Online Reviews

The business listings provide a place for customers to write about their experiences–good or bad–with their company, but also enable you to post responses to these reviews.   Posting responses can aid in engaging your customer base and demonstrates your involvement with their experiences. Often, potential customers will read your reviews and make a decision whether to use your company. According to most studies, 70% of local consumers use reviews before making a purchase, so it’s increasingly important to pay attention to what people are saying about your business and act accordingly.  Although there are guidelines and regulations for posting reviews, customers are essentially able to say what they want, whether is it true or not.  This can be problematic; however, when posting responses, the best approach is to be personal yet careful of your wording so you don’t add fuel to the fire.

Many review sites have noticed the number of false reviews that have been posted and have made huge strides in recent months to decrease and eventually eliminate the fake reviews altogether.  The opportunity to post a review from an ‘anonymous’ user is no longer an option on sites such as Google+Local, Yelp and YellowPages.  From a business perspective, this change will create a better way for you to connect with users writing reviews; decrease the number of fake reviews; and provide genuine feedback that you as an owners can use to better your businesses.

Responding to customer posts demonstrates your interest in customers' experiences.

Responding to customer posts demonstrates your interest in customers’ experiences.

Customers may post positive or negative reviews, and there are many benefits to responding to both kinds of posts.  Responding to negative reviews shows potential customers that you are willing to accept responsibility for an issue and work hard to resolve it.  It’s important to respond to the reviews with a clear head–having someone removed from the situation edit the response before posting it can be beneficial, because once it’s posted there is no taking it back! Reputation Management services can provide this third party interaction and aid you with responses.

On the other hand, if you choose to ignore negative reviews or come across as overly aggressive in your responses, your actions may work against you.  Potential customers may see a negative review without a response from the owner and decide to take their business elsewhere. Coming across as defensive can also harm your business, so when responding to reviews think of how others will interpret your response and never pass blame to the customer.  No matter what the review says, always let your customer know you value their feedback.

Using the Internet to Benefit Your Business

Staying connected to your customers is a great way to help your reputation online and in turn will help your business.  Use the directory, review and social media sites to your advantage by posting articles, specials and upcoming events.  Having that online connection can help tremendously with your overall reputation.  Just remember to keep your cool when responding to reviews; always add detailed information to listings; and be active on social media sites, and you should see positive results.

By Hannah Morrish

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Filed under Reputation Management, Social Media Marketing

Social Interaction through Social Media

Interaction through Social Media

Social media is a form of interaction that you and your customers share. Providing customers with the opportunity to “like” your Facebook posts, follow your tweets, and +1 your Google+ page engages customers and allows them to keep up with advances in your business, but responding to customer interest opens a dialogue. Through this dialogue you, as a business owner, can gain an idea of what customers most appreciate about your business. Customers may provide you with valuable feedback about aspects of your business that are functioning extremely well, as well as let you know of areas that may need improvement. Some social media sites, such as Facebook, include notification services that allow customers to see what new posts you have made on your social media page. These services, such as the Facebook news feed, track your customers’ interactions with you and broadcast these interactions to your respective social media networks. This interaction expands your social media reach  and enhances its effectiveness.

Facebook

Many business owners are familiar with utilizing Facebook to post content about their businesses and to advertise events. It is important to remember, however, that customers will become more engaged with your business if you interact with them through your Facebook page.

Allowing customers to leave posts about their experiences with your business or to upload photographs of their visit enables them to become involved in a dialogue with you and with other customers. Additionally, when they upload these photographs or leave posts about your business, their friends will receive notification through their own news feeds. News feed notifications allow your business’s name to spread to an even larger social network. As a business owner, you can also upload photographs of customers at your business and allow customers to tag themselves. The photographs in which they tag themselves will then appear in their own photo collections on Facebook. Friends of people who are tagged in the photographs you posted will then see your business when viewing these photographs.

Posting photographs of events allows customers to see other customers enjoying themselves.

Posting photographs of events allows customers to see other customers enjoying themselves.

You can also take photographs at events or at any other time during the year and post them on your social media sites to show customers what kinds of events are available. Junction Bar and Grill posted photographs from a St. Patrick’s Day party on Facebook. These photographs show groups of people enjoying themselves. Customers who view these images will see other customers enjoying themselves, and can then post comments or tags. Your company’s connections can expand exponentially in this manner and reach audiences of which you may have been previously unaware. Customers can also share photographs and posts on their own timelines, using the share option available  on each posting on your business timeline.

Allowing your customers to provide feedback or to offer an opinion demonstrates your interest in their experiences with your business and shows that you are interested in their points of view. Additionally, this type of interaction encourages them to visit your Facebook page, and likely your business, more frequently to check for responses and other customers’ postings.

As an alternative means of communication, you can begin an interactive conversation with customers  by posting either an open-ended question or a poll. Customers can then leave feedback and answer your questions, and this action will be visible to their friends on their respective news feeds.

Facebook offers custom polls with graphic designs.

Facebook offers custom polls with graphic designs.

The Barrel Saloon posted a poll that asks customers about their favorite kinds of Christmas trees. This question is not directly related to the company’s business, but is a topic likely to be relevant and of interest to many customers.

Posting amusing questions will engage customers and consequently their friends will be made aware of your interaction through news feed notifications. Polls and other posts, however, have the added benefit of increasing your page’s EdgeRank with your customers and with their friends. EdgeRank refers to the algorithm that Facebook uses to determine which stories appear in an individual’s news feed, and is dependent upon factors such as relationship to the post’s creator; the weight Facebook assigns to the post type; and the time since the post’s creation. Every Facebook user’s news feed is different because Facebook takes personal interests into consideration when assigning  EdgeRank scores. Thus the same posting by the same business will receive a different EdgeRank score for each person who interacts with the page. Because of EdgeRank, if one of your customers “likes” a post that you make, they will then be more likely to see later posts that you make. For more information please visit http://whatisedgerank.com/ or http://www.insidefacebook.com/2011/12/27/edgerank-and-graph-rank-defined/.

Google+

Google+ is emerging as a powerful new way of communicating with customers. Aside from event postings, photographs and videos that you can place on your page, adding other types of content attracts customers to your page. While there, they can explore the links and media that you have available and can then “follow” your page by adding you to their circles. Customers can also select the +1 option to endorse information you have provided to their respective followers.

Google+ can help you broadcast videos and future events.

Google+ can help you broadcast videos and future events.

The Ferrari posting advertises an event to car enthusiasts; provides a link; and also includes a video. There are 281 +1s for this page and 17 individuals have responded to this posting. Postings such as this allow customers to engage with the dialogue and to share their interests and opinions with their own networks and with business owners. The more activity you generate, the more likely your Google+ page will  be seen by others.

Additionally,  if your customers add you to their Google+ circles you can then add them as well.  Doing so allows you to engage with them on their Google+ posts and encourages reciprocation and mutual exchange. As an added benefit, you will become more visible to the other members of your customers’ Google+ circles. You can also add other businesses to your circles.

Twitter

Posting brief snippets of content about your business can easily grab customers’ attention, and allowing them to “follow” you on Twitter ensures that your customers are able to keep up with news about your business. As with other forms of social media, your customers can respond to these postings. Additionally, your customers can retweet these postings to allow their followers to learn more about your business. You can also post quotes or facts that you find interesting or funny. These posts may not directly relate to your business, but will engage customers and help to spread your business’s name. The posting from Surfin Turf Landscape will appeal to gardeners, landscapers, and butterfly enthusiasts alike. Twitter users can retweet the posting, as someone did with this one. Replies to this tweet can also be added, or the tweet can be added to a Twitter user’s favorite postings list.

Twitter Advice

Twitter can be used to provide advice to followers.

Twitter allows site users to upload photographs, so adding a photograph to your tweets can provide more detailed information that cannot be contained in the site’s 140-character maximum. Posting photographs, or catchy tweets, engages your customers and provides a forum through which they can respond.

You can also follow others who follow you or utilize Twitter search to identify other topics and Twitter users of interest to you and your business. Doing so will further spread your business’s name and insert it into a wide range of conversations. For example, automotive mechanics may follow other automotive mechanics or individuals who tweet about auto repairs. Following other Twitter users encourages them to reciprocate and demonstrates your engagement with others. Additionally you can respond to postings that other users have made.

Using Social Media to Promote Your Business

As described, social media provides you with a powerful platform from which to promote your business. No matter which types of social networking sites you use, you can share content with your customers and encourage them to interact with you. Promoting a high level of customer involvement allows customers to engage with you and your business and can result in a more interested and dedicated customer base.

By Alissa Monti

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Filed under Facebook, Google+, Photos, Social Media Marketing, Twitter