When you establish a social-media presence for your small business, do not limit yourself to just posting valuable and informative content. You must also engage in all possible forms. Engagement can be done through liking, sharing, retweeting, as well as by following similar businesses, current customers and especially potential customers.

Be a little ambitious and aim to make most, if not all, of your posts viral. The goal is to build your network and get your brand and small business out there. You have to be careful nonetheless in choosing what content to post or share. After all, you want to establish a good reputation that will attract as many followers or customers as possible.

Do not worry if this has been overwhelming so far. This article will break these ideas down into steps that you can easily understand and take to grow your small business with the use of social media:

Build a Credible Reputation

Reputation is the opinion that is generally held about something or someone. When you want to build a credible reputation, you have to start by knowing what your brand is and what it stands for before you go around posting random stuff on your social media accounts.

You have to have a clear-cut picture first of how you want the world to see your brand or small business before you can start building a reputation for it.

When thinking about what your business stands for, think of something specific. Avoid broad ideas such as wanting your brand to stand for quality. Quality is a generic term and also quite tired.

Instead, ask yourself what the most important factor is about your brand that makes it of high quality. Once you have decided on what your brand stands for, be authoritative about it.

Do not hold back in flaunting it. You have to be utterly sure about your message. Manifest this intention with good and creative words and pictures.

The next step is to commit to it. Be consistent with how you paint your brand to the world. Avoid pieces of content that contradict each other. This will not only confuse your customers but will turn them off and eventually ruin your reputation, one way or another.

Remember that building a reputation takes a lot of time, but damaging it only takes one simple mistake.

Attract Potential Clients

The first step you have to take to attract potential customers is to know first who your current customers are. Do your research and learn about what they want, what they need, what their interests are.

Know how old they are and where they live. All these factors will help you learn and understand the things they need.

The next step is to identify where these potential customers are most active: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube? Once you have identified which social media accounts these are, start establishing your brand there using what you have learned so far through this article.

Starting out new in social media is not easy, especially when you have to build your network. Start by adding or following similar businesses, perhaps even competitors, so you can watch and learn from them.

Connect with Like-Minded Business Professionals

As already mentioned, it is important to start connecting with people who work in the same industry or who own similar businesses.

They can be of potential help to you and your business. Just remember that you have to approach this carefully and strategically. Choose only professionals and businesses that are actually related to your own. Do not just randomly send out requests to random people and companies.

The point is that you establish a professional relationship with them. You can use LinkedIn Groups or Google Plus Communities to make this connection and start sharing valuable content with each other. Make an effort to read the content they post and provide feedback accordingly. This is how you establish your relationship with them.

Similarly, you have to return the favor by sharing good content from your end. A professional relationship has to be mutual and you have to make them feel that you are contributing to the virtual community. In fact, you can expand your network by tapping into their established following.

Diversify Your Marketing Efforts

Do not just limit yourself to social media. While social media is affordable and accessible, it is still best to mix this effort with other tried and tested strategies, including online advertising and public relations.

It is not just the venue that you have to diversify. You also have to vary your methods. Don’t just share text content. Use photos, infographics and videos, and see what works best.

Once you know what is currently trending, exploit the opportunity and use it to your advantage.

What is important is that you observe and learn from the things around you. Your business has to adapt to the ever-changing world. Try to find the balance between what has been done for a long time and what is currently being done.

After all, you do not want your efforts to be just fleeting. You want them to last as long as they can.

Make Your Time and Money Count

You cannot just wing online marketing and branding. These strategies require time and effort for it to work. Take time to observe, study, and plan your moves.

In this way, you will not be wasting any resource that is already scarce as it is. You have to make sure that you are able to maximize whatever opportunity you have.

Small businesses usually do not have extra money for advertising and marketing, and this is why entrepreneurs go to social media to establish their brands. For this reason, you have to be careful not to misuse any time and effort when you are building your empire from scratch.

To do this, you have to have a solid action plan. Solid action plans are achieved when you establish your goals at the start and work hard to fulfill them one by one. Research, plan, and strategize.

Once you start fulfilling these goals, do not get complacent; continue striving. Track and measure your success and know which works from which does not.

Drive Traffic to Your Blog or Website

Your content is your foundation when driving traffic to your blog or website. This is why you have to make sure that you share content on a regular basis. Moreover, this content has to be right.

By right, it means it has to be relevant and informative to be effective. If you are not very good with words, there should be a couple of best sites for writing help that you can go to for assistance.

It is basic knowledge that you have to find balance in anything you do. This is also applicable when sharing content. You have to ensure that you share just the right amount of content for it to serve its purpose.

When you share too little, you risk losing online presence, but when you share too much, you risk overexposure, which could potentially turn off customers. As for finding the right content, you have to understand your customers. You have to know what they want and what they are interested in.

At the same time, you also have to understand what your business needs. Naturally, you have to address both at the same time and not just one or the other. After all, your ultimate goal is to profit.

Nurture Relationships

Professional relationships are just like any other relationships; you have to approach them genuinely and carefully. Establishing relationships is one thing, but maintaining them is another.

This is why you have to regularly post content and at the same time provide feedback on your connections’ content so you can maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with them.

Additionally, you have to show them that you are genuinely interested in their endeavors. Do not make them feel like this is only a means to an end. This is where sharing their content to your timeline comes in. When you do so, they will reciprocate the gesture and do just the same.

As A Summary

We already know how useful social media is in establishing an online presence for your small business, and we know that there is a number of approaches that you can use to do so. Just remember that like any other endeavor, online marketing and online strategy have guidelines to follow in order for it to work.

You just have to do your research, plan well and know that it is a continuous effort that you cannot do overnight.

Malia Keirsey is a BusinessTown.com contributor.