Most businesses these days have websites to provide information and online shopping to customers, but social media takes the experience one step further by bringing your business to consumers instead of the other way around.
Businesses new to social media can consider the following options. They are cost-effective, user-friendly and can reach large or niche portions of the community, depending on your focus.
Blogs are a free and easy way to provide further insight into your business and enhance existing product offering. A blog can be linked to your existing website and can discuss topics ranging from what goes on behind the scenes and exciting new offerings, to how-to articles and informal news items. Enabling feedback will give you a better sense of who your customers are, what they want and how they feel about your company.
Facebook and Twitter are similarly easy ways to get into the psyche of the consumer and participate in groups and events they are interested in. You can also post questions, polls and quick facts to your 'fan base', which is determined by how many people 'Like' your Facebook page or 'Follow' your Twitter handle.
Youtube is also useful for raising brand and company awareness without spending on traditional advertising methods. How-to videos and interviews with employees or industry experts are some types of content businesses should consider putting on YouTube. This can drive traffic to your website (if it is linked to the video) and, if your video is tagged with popular search terms, increase viewership and therefore promote awareness of your business.
However, it is important to also remember the risks and consequences that come with using social media, such as identity fraud and privacy concerns, and take measures to mitigate this risk.
Read the D&B guide to developing a social media policy for your business and the pros and cons of social media.