Gone are the days when the only connections your business has with the public are through its signage and the listing in the phone book. In this age of the Internet and social media, many people will look your business up online before ever buying from you, so it is critical to maintain a presence on the web. In addition, customers appreciate the chance to interact with your business online by providing feedback, asking questions, and reading your updates. Mobile development has exploded in the past few years, giving more users than ever before access to social networking on the go. Whereas people might have read on their bus or train commute to read the newspaper or a book, many now check their social networks on their phones or tablets.

Because of these reasons, every small business can benefit from having one or more social media accounts on the most popular websites. Before getting started, learn the differences between the social networks, what benefits you can see from creating accounts on each one, and what you should do to maintain your online presence through social media.

Twitter

With a limit of 140 characters per post, Twitter is designed for small updates and is perfect for a small business owner looking to get the business name out there without investing much time or any money. Because it’s so easy to follow a person or business on Twitter, developing a following will get you an automatic audience of hundreds, or even thousands, of customers who see your updates. In addition, the network is designed with great potential for tweets to go viral because it is easy for anyone who sees what you tweet to retweet it, allowing all of their followers to see it. This increases your exposure dramatically and helps you reach new potential customers.

Facebook

Facebook has the largest and most devoted pool of users, making it the best choice if you only set up one social network business account. It allows you to post photos, videos, descriptions and contact information to your page so customers get a better sense of what your business is about. In addition, its interface is highly integrated, allowing users to learn about your business, get involved in a conversation, and watch videos, all on the same page. After setting up a page, make sure to visit it regularly to reply to questions and comments and stay engaged with your customers.

Google Plus

As the newest major social network to launch, Google Plus does not yet have the participation of Facebook or Twitter, but it is still a valuable place to promote your business. One major advantage this network has is the ability to easily divide your followers into circles so you can post targeted content to each circle individually. Another interesting feature is the +1 button. This allows people to give their stamp of approval on your brand, advertising, or website in a way that will appear for their friends on Google Plus. Although it has not fully caught on yet, Google Plus has a lot of potential to help your business.

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