If you’re new to the world of social media, don’t worry, getting started is easier than you might think. When practiced properly, social media marketing can help you reach your target customers, broaden your audience, and increase your brand’s exposure.

Ready to learn more? Read on for tips on how you can get started with social media today.

Stick to the basics. When you’re just starting out, limit your presence to the most popular social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter. Set up a fan page on Facebook and create an account on Twitter. Include an informative bio about your company (you’ll have limited space on Twitter but more freedom on Facebook) and include images of your company, products, or services. Once you get the hang of these two sites, you may want to consider expanding your social media presence to include sites like Foursquare, Reddit, Digg, HubPages, and more.

Find relevant followers. It’s much easier on Twitter to find relevant followers than on Facebook, but it’s important to not expect immediate results from either site. Social media is more about building relationships for long-term results than seeing an immediate increase in profit. Do a search on Twitter for the most important keywords related to your industry and a list of people talking about that topic will pop up. You can go through and ‘follow’ each person and wait to see if they ‘follow’ you back. Try to keep the ratio of people you’re following and people who follow you as equal as possible. Once you have a good amount of followers on Twitter, promote your Facebook account to try to get more followers on that account as well.

Post entertaining content. Give your Facebook fans and Twitter followers a reason to keep you on their accounts by posting informative and entertaining images, blogs, and articles. Witty, funny, or intriguing headlines get people to click on your post, so spend a little extra time on those. If you don’t write blogs for your company yourself, you can find relevant articles online or on news sites and link to those.

Keep keywords in mind. You might consider search engine optimization to be a website-centric marketing technique, but it’s actually very helpful with social media too. Use strong keywords in your company bio, on image captions, and in every post to help your social media sites get found on search engines.

Interact with your audience. Now that you have some followers and fans, don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re done. Interacting with them regularly is a huge part of what makes social media marketing so effective. Respond to their posts, engage them with questions, polls, or interesting content, and respond to any direct messages you get in a timely manner.

Update daily. If you don’t have time to run your social media accounts, designate someone on your marketing team to do it for you or hire a professional. Daily updates work best but weekly is good too. Anything less than that just won’t produce the desired results. Social media is all about connecting with your target audience on a more personal level. If your social media sites are inactive most days out of the month, your audience is going to get frustrated when their attempts to contact you go unnoticed. Even worse, if you’re not posting regularly, they may forget about you altogether.

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