Ford revolutionized the way companies used social media in 2010 with the launch of 2011 Explorer on Facebook. The company had a return on investment nearly three times higher than they would have had with a Super Bowl ad. Unfortunately, not every company has the marketing budget that Ford does. However, you do not have to be a Fortune 500 company to have an effective marketing campaign via social networking.

Social networking sites have the potential to be extremely successful at promoting businesses because they offer consumers the chance to feel as though they are a part of a community greater than themselves. They can interact with the companies they love on a day-to-day basis, engage with fellow brand enthusiasts, take note of a company’s up-and-coming products, and leave reviews and suggestions for the company. So how does a business owner or marketing team take advantage of these sites to gain a highly involved client base?

Be Consistent

First and foremost, secure accounts on numerous social media sites. Not only will this allow you to reach wider audiences, but it will also help you protect your brand name from any malicious users seeking to slander your name. Signing up, however, is the easy part. Business owners need to make sure that each of their accounts conveys the same message about their company. Having consistency makes it easier for brand followers to gain trust in a company and thus increase their brand loyalty and likelihood of spreading the word.

Develop Brand Advocates

Once your social media sites contain a strong united front, you need to take stock of your current fans. There are several tools, including Klout, which allow you to rate your current fans. Those with high score may be excellent candidates for brand advocates, and should be the individuals that you focus on giving special rewards to. Try offering these Fans exclusive rights such as free products on occasion, or give site badges to your heaviest users. Not only will it make other customers strive to be more like the brand advocates selected, but those getting exclusive treatment will also be more likely to post about it on Facebook, Twitter, and whatever other social media sites they are on.

Foster Engagement

You cannot expect a buzz to be created around your Facebook page if you are not engaging your Fans. You need to give them something to do which will not only keep current Fans engaged, but also potentially draw in new Fans as well. Frequently post pictures, videos, and thought provoking or reaction causing comments and questions. Remember to keep your page constantly updated; a neglected account can be worse than no account at all.

You do not need to pour millions of dollars into a social media marketing campaign in order for it to be successful. Simply by monitoring your already loyal fans and producing a few inexpensive ads, you can easily build brand advocates to help spread the word about your company. The costs are low and with persistence, you could have a cult-like following within no time at all.

Author: Matt Polsky is the Senior Content Manager for VA Mortgage, providing insights learned from the nation’s leading provider of VA home loans.