Social media is an effective platform to market your brand. One of its main advantages is that it is cost effective as compared to the traditional modes of marketing. It is also an area where you can easily attract a large audience if you make utmost use of it.

Here is an overview of the various platforms and how they can be of benefit to your brand.

Facebook



Facebook’s casual, friendly environment requires an active social media marketing strategy. Start by creating a Facebook Business Fan Page. You will want to pay careful attention to layout, as the visual component is a key aspect of the Facebook experience.

Facebook is a place people go to relax and chat with friends, so keep your tone light and friendly. And remember, organic reach on Facebook can be extremely limited, so consider a cost-effective Facebook ad strategy, which can have a big impact on your organic Facebook presence as well!


Google +




Google+ entered the scene as a Facebook competitor, but it now serves a more niche audience. It won't work for everybody, but some communities are very active on Google+.

On Google+ you can upload and share photos, videos, links, and view all your +1s. Also take advantage of Google+ circles, which allow you to segment your followers into smaller groups, enabling you to share information with some followers while barring others. For example, you might try creating a “super-fan” circle, and share special discounts and exclusive offers only with that group.

You can also try hosting video conferences with Hangouts and experiment using the Hangout feature in some fun, creative ways. Some social media marketing ideas: if you're a salon, host a how-to session on how to braid your hair. If you own a local bookstore, try offering author video chats. If you're feeling adventurous, invite your +1s to your Google+ Community. Google+ Communities will allow you to listen into your fan's feedback and input, truly putting the social back into social media.

Pinterest



Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social media marketing trends. Pinterest’s image-centered platform is ideal for retail, but anyone can benefit from using Pinterest for social media purposes or sales-driving ads.

Pinterest allows businesses to showcase their product offerings while also developing brand personality with eye-catching, unique pin boards. When developing your Pinterest strategy, remember that the social network's primary audience is female. If that's your demographic, you need a presence on Pinterest!

Twitter



Twitter is the social media marketing tool that lets you broadcast your updates across the web. Follow tweeters in your industry or related fields, and you should gain a steady stream of followers in return.

Mix up your official tweets about specials, discounts, and news with fun, brand-building tweets. Be sure to retweet when a customer has something nice to say about you, and don’t forget to answer people’s questions when possible. Using Twitter as a social media marketing tool revolves around dialog and communication, so be sure to interact as much as possible to nurture and build your following.

LinkedIn
LinkedIn is one of the more professional social media marketing sites. LinkedIn Groups is a great venue for entering into a professional dialog with people in similar industries and provides a place to share content with like-minded individuals. It's also great for posting jobs and general employee networking.

Encourage customers or clients to give your business a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. Recommendations makes your business appear more credible and reliable for new customers. Also browse the Questions section of LinkedIn; providing answers helps you get established as a thought leader and earns trust.

YouTube
YouTube is the number one place for creating and sharing video content, and it can also be an incredibly powerful social media marketing tool. Many businesses try to create video content with the aim of having their video “go viral,” but in reality those chances are pretty slim. Instead, focus on creating useful, instructive “how-to” videos. These how-to videos also have the added benefit of ranking on the video search results of Google, so don't under-estimate the power of video content!

Instagram
There are more than 400 million active users on Instagram every month, and every day 3.5 billion photos are liked. Use Instagram for business purposes in the right way, and you could have an instant viral marketing success. Use it wrong, and your efforts on the site could be a big empty fail.

You can use Instagram to tell a visual story about your brand, instantly engage with your followers wherever they are, and even get very real user-generated content through hashtag photo contests.

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