What are some ways to use Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to spread the word about my business?
Great question! Social Media falls into a larger umbrella called "Inbound Marketing." Traditionally marketing would be 1) cold calls/ telemarketing 2) print marketing such as magazines or newspapers 3) radio advertising 4) TV advertising 5) outdoor advertising. The before mentioned techniques would be labeled as "Outbound Marketing."
50 years ago companies like P&G, McDonald’s, and Pfizer built their brand with these techniques. The problem with outbound marketing today is: consumers have DVRs so they do not watch TV commercials; consumers have iPods so I don’t listen to the radio; consumers subscriptions rates to magazines and newspapers are near extinction; and consumers have learned to ignore "interruption marketing" such as telemarketing through services like caller ID.
Newer companies within the last 10 years such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon have used Inbound Marketing. Using Social Media will give you leverage to compete with bigger brands and with bigger budgets. Here is how:
Create Profiles on Social Media Sites: Although there are many social network sites it is best to get your feet wet on 1) Facebook 2) Twitter and 3) LinkedIn.
Create a Fan Page for your business. Click on this link http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php and follow the setup instructions.
Create an account by navigating to https://twitter.com/signup. Follow the instructions to setup your account.
Create a personal account and a company page. To create a personal account go to https://www.linkedin.com/secure/register?trk=hb_join and enter in the appropriate fields. To create a company page make sure you have your personal account created and verified and then click on this link http://www.linkedin.com/companies?didentcompy=.
In general listen. See what your target audience is talking about, and then after you understand add value by sharing your thoughts. Below are a few specific examples:
You have 140 characters. Be short and link back to more information on your website or blog. By linking back to your website you create traffic and allow your site to be indexed by search engines. Both are good.
Pose questions. Share resources that your target audience would find of value. Think of your Facebook Fan Page like a forum.
Answer questions posted by your target audience. This will give you "expertise" which is rewarded with green stars in the category your answer was selected as the best answer. Link your blog to your company page. By adding your blog to your company page your LinkedIn page will share your latest blog post with the professional community.
I hope that helps, and if you have any questions feel free to connect with me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/adam.root) or LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/in/adammroot).
In addition I have listed a few resources to help get you going below:
1. http://www.getawebsite.com This is a great resource to easily build your website, and have a built in blog.
2. http://www.agencyentourage.com Social Media marketing agency that I work for that specializes in social media. Our blog has several articles with free resources.