On many websites now, tucked in the corner of the page, you will find something like this:

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It’s not a decoration. It’s access to the website and company’s most powerful accessory: social media.

Social media isn’t simply free advertising. While an online presence certainly helps to promote your business, it also serves as a tool to gain feedback, enhance connections with current customers, and draw in new ones.

As social media platforms grow, so does your opportunity to expand your network and build relationships with people. Getting started on social media can be daunting with so many options available, but it may be less overwhelming once you evaluate which types match your audience and also which you feel comfortable using.

Facebook is the top social network around, allowing billions to connect with each other by sharing messages, photos, videos, links and more. It is like an online, ongoing scrapbook, perfect for a company to brand itself.

Twitter also helps you share photos, videos, etc., but it is unique in that tweets are quick, short updates.

LinkedIn is a network connecting you to other business professionals. It is useful for branding as well as recruiting.

Google+ is a newer network, but its innovation puts many social media services in one place. You can email content, share photos, videos, and much more with users in your “circles.”

Pinterest is a site to share images (or “pins”) that connect to links around the web. Your pins can not only provide exposure and a link to your service, but also help create your personal image.

Instagram allows users to edit photos and videos and then share them on multiple platforms. Instagrams can be anything- artsy, funny, informative- but in any case they help to show off your company’s personality.

YouTube is a platform for posting and watching videos, and like Facebook, it has over 1 billion users. For your benefit, it is also connected as a feature in Google+.

A blog is not a single social media site, but one that you can create on your own. It is an outlet to share your knowledge in a written, video, photo, or even graphic format, and your expertise can add value to your brand.

These are some of the most prominent networking sites around, but it seems like new ones are popping up everyday. Regardless of which you choose, when you get plugged in, it’s easy to jump on and stay on the customer’s radar. These social networks can reach millions of people, but still allow for personal communication with individuals. Perhaps the greatest attraction is that most of it is free, and it’s easy to utilize with a little practice.

So whether you decide to tweet, pin, blog- or conquer all the mediums- social networking is a great tool for any business.


By Erin Cizek