Picture
Any entrepreneur who hasn't yet recognized the impact of technology on the business world needs to wake up and smell the coffee. Unless you've been living under a rock for the last five years or so, you would have observed the progress made by technology on a daily basis, particularly the internet. Businesses are making the effort to keep pace with the growth, some of them striving to be one step ahead. 

Yet, the internet-based tools for businesses have not gotten universal acceptance till now, particularly at the top level. Even with the technology delivering results for businesses, the leaders have been reluctant to accept the fact. Social media, in particular, has become an important tool in a business’ repertoire. Though the image of social media websites would be that of casual interaction and fun, it can give your business the boost it needs. 

At present, the percentage of CEOs engaged in social media stands at 16%. It shows a deplorable lack of seriousness and trust on part of the CEOs with regards to social media. On top of that, just one of the CEO’s included in IBM’s 2012 Global CEO Study run a blog. Somehow, the people who run businesses prefer LinkedIn, but even there the level of participation leaves much to be desired. You should even ask how the situation is on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social networks.

Research has clearly shown that social media is on its way to becoming an important tool for businesses to interact and engage their customers. In fact, it is expected that it would be the second biggest medium of interaction between businesses and customers after, of course, face-to-face interaction in five years’ time. However, there aren't any guarantees the internet would remain in its current state for five years. 

Even a small change could leave businesses in the dark about how they can use social media. This is why you shouldn't wait for social media to boom. Not only do the business leaders need to embrace this tool for promotion and marketing but every person working for the company. It helps if the employees are involved in what’s going on in the company. Social media is a platform through which a large corporation can foster a sense of being a community within its employees.

But, the business leaders need to take the first step towards doing this. They no longer have the luxury of ignoring social media. If you fail to recognize its importance now, it is quite possible each one of your competitors would be using it to their advantage in the near future. You will get left behind.

Still, there are many business leaders who have embraced social media with open arms, from small-scale entrepreneurs to CEOs of multinationals. Social media gives you a chance to step out of the formality of conventional interaction strategies with your customers. There is plenty of space for you should you choose to enter the arena. It will make you a smarter business leader. 



 
 
Picture
The norms of marketing have undergone a radical shift. No longer do you have to take out ads in newspapers or paste flyers all over town to attract consumers. Times have changed and social media has become the main marketing platform for small businesses. Given the fact that even large-scale corporations rely on Facebook and Twitter to attract customers, using social media is a must for entrepreneurs of small businesses. Let’s see how you can go about doing it. 

1.Be Real, Be Genuine, Be Authentic, Be Yourself 
Social media networking has become a surrogate for meeting new people. That is what people sign up for on Facebook and MySpace. They want to get to know the person behind the business rather than the business itself. Use your Facebook page or Twitter feed to show yourself to your potential customers. Though you may throw in a tidbit about your business and what you offer, the communication should be about what you like as a person, not as an entrepreneur.

2. Devote Time, Energy and Resources to ‘A’ Social Network 
Jack of all trades, master of none, today’s cutthroat business environment doesn’t give you the luxury to be one. In this day and age, any effort you put in has to show results, and quickly. Often you will notice a small business dabbling in various social networks. Rather than trying to gain a foothold in half a dozen websites, devote your time, energy and resources to one. Concentrated and dedicated efforts produce quick results.

3. Beat the Panda with Viral Videos 
Google’s Panda updates keep making life difficult for SEO experts. There is a way around it for small businesses. Instead of relying on written content, give videos a chance. Many businesses are producing videos related to what they offer and posting them on YouTube and social networks to target new clients.

4. Loosen the Purse Strings for Social Media Design 
You shouldn't compromise on the design of your social media pages. Every page you have, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or any other social network, should be designed by a professional. Hire an expert social media designer to do the job for you.

5. Generate Leads through Give-and-Take 
Offer fans on your social media pages something valuable in return for them promoting your business. For instance, you can offer a special discount to any person who generates 10 leads for your business and so on.

6. Monitor the Progress 
Simply creating a social media page and optimizing it for your customers isn't enough. You have to monitor the progress you are making as well. Make sure you keep an eye on the traffic your social media pages are generating and how many of them are actually converting into customers. Judging the efficacy of your social media campaign is important to justify the effort you put in.

7. Content is the King 
Last, but not the least, content is the king. Regardless of what marketers tell you, people are impressed by genuine, good quality content. This is one area you should never compromise on. You can drive potential customers away by being verbose and boring. Oh, and don’t forget to put a call to action on your social media pages!