Are you a small business owner researching to grow your business? Would you like to attract more leads to your small business, or have heard about Social Media Marketing, and now want to try it?

Like a small business owner you face many challenges - limited capital, minimal support and having too much to do in what seems like not much time. So, how do you expand your small business without heavy acquisition of marketing and advertising? Answer - by using technology. Web 2.0 gives you various tools and techniques that really help you to generate leads while increasing the exposure of one's home-based business. Social media is one such tool. Here's all that you should know as a small business owner to start increasing revenues using social networking.

What is Social Media?
Social media marketing is a category of online media where individuals are talking, participating, sharing, networking, and bookmarking online. These include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, GooglePlus, and MySpace.

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Precisely what is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is using the above mentioned platforms to arrive at a new audience of customers and create product brand awareness. By spreading word of an product from user to user, Social media strives to gain greater legitimacy for any message because it is shared between trusted "friends."

Which Social media marketing Channels are most popular?
Studies show that Facebook & Twitter are most popular social media channels followed closely by YouTube and LinkedIn, GooglePlus.

Why must Social Media Marketing Interest me?
If you feel this kind of Marketing isn't for you, think again. These platforms give a large bundle of advantages to small business owners. Below are a few reasons why you should consider using Social websites for your business.

Exposure: Like a small business owner you rely largely on multi-level marketing to channel leads to your business - which, subsequently relies on your interaction with individuals. This is the core notion of what Social Media is! But Social networking offers virtually unlimited the possiblility to interact with people - an incredible number of them! With this interesting form of marketing, your business is no longer limited to local leads; you will discover leads coming in from the diversified geographic market!

Zero-cost: While other marketing media could be expensive, this type of marketing is comparatively free, or requires negligible monetary investment. It's a great low-cost way to get your message across.

Improved online presence: Being on popular social media marketing platforms strengthens your internet presence. The more people discuss you on Facebook or Twitter, the more are the chances of your small business being found on relevant web searches including Google, Yahoo!, or Bing.

Direct experience of prospects: These platforms put you in touch with your customers directly. You will get one-on-one contact with them, know what they really want.

Go viral: Such marketing will give you the opportunity to go viral together with your marketing. Think about this. You place up a video concerning your business on YouTube. 10 people enjoy it, and five of which share it making use of their friends, who in-turn share it with 20 more people. This is known as "viral marketing," and it can be a very effective strategy to increase your lead generation.

Just what is a Social Media "game plan" and why wouldn't you have one?
A social media game plan is a process that includes a few simple steps which can help you achieve your social media marketing objectives. The social media marketing arena is large and you can get lost in it if you don't play by the rules. There are plenty of competition and you have to get a clear plan if you want to stand out of the crowd and get noticed.

Your ideal Social Media game plan
A typical strategy for your business should consist of these four steps

Build your network
Propagate your presence
Keep in touch

Step 1 - construct your network: The first step is always to search for and add those users on your network whom you think belong to your target audience segment. When putting a request to add users in your network, it is always preferable to accompany such requests having a personalized message. You may also look for and join groups that have to do with your line of business. For instance, if you are a business selling Health drinks and also other health-related products, you could join groups where topics like nutrition, diet or health are discussed. Bring in more business provide you audience for that products you have to offer. However, when in a group, do remember to include VALUE. Answer questions that you will be equipped to answer, actively participate in discussions, be subtle and do not aggressively "push" your products.

Step 2-propagate: The next task is to announce your Social media marketing presence. You can do this with the addition of links to your social media pages on your website, e-mail signature line or newsletter, for those who have one. You are out there with your business-announce it!

Step 3-stay connected:Another step is to keep in touch with your fans and group members. Facebook marketing initiative is easy to begin, but requires effort to keep. And like many networking efforts, answers are usually not immediate. Acquire permission from group members and others on your network to transmit e-mails. You can then e-mail relevant content to people on your network. The important thing here is to send RELEVANT, VALUE ADDING content-not an advertisement of your products/services. If you are a health-drink selling company who is also a part of the diet and nutrition group, you can send links like '10 Best Anti-Oxidant Rich Fruits' and then perhaps add a photo and some information about your product or service, encouraging people to call you if they're interested. This method will be better-received than just sending the prospects an e-mail flyer totally dedicated to your product.

Dos and Don'ts
While social networking is all about human interaction and cannot be strait-jacketed, here are some tips that will come in handy.

What you should do?
Improve the value of your contacts: Always improve the value of your contacts. Always! Provide them valuable information, tips and other interesting facts that they can use. For example, Jane, a home-based small business owner sells health drinks and weight reduction products. So, it feels right for her to provide her audience with interesting articles on the stock market of weight loss.

Be consistent in your online participation: It's not a one-time effort. It's about building a relationship… and relationships take some time. Be consistent in your social media marketing communication. Have an interesting tweet/post/update at the very least every day. In some few cases, multiple postings a day are even better-but don't forget rule#1-add value. Your content shouldn't sound like pointless ramblings or advertisements of your respective product/service.

Pay attention to what's being discussed: When you have joined a forum or even a group, actively participate in relevant discussions. Use your specific, professional knowledge to assist others. Contribute to add depth and dimension to a discussion.

Conversation is paramount: As mentioned before, social media marketing thrives on relationships. To build a robust relationship with your prospects, you'll want to engage in a conversation using them. Maintain a 2-way communication between your audience. Take genuine curiosity about what they have to say and comply with comments or observations which might be made.

Thoroughly be aware of subject you are talking about: Position yourself as a possible expert on these platforms. But make sure that you know what you're referring to. Research if you aren't certain of something. Mistakes on these platforms spread quickly and damage the status for your business.

Personalize your interaction: It's wise to personalize your interaction with your audience. Inquire about a celebration or occasion posted with a Wall, such as a recent trip, or "like" their vacation pictures on Facebook.

Portray your individuality: The largest advantage small business owners have over large corporations is the fact they are much smaller and haven't lost that real-person feel. Enable your audience know the person behind the organization. Make sure your interactions add a personal side!

React to your customers' grievances ASAP: Are you aware that 88% of customers say unanswered complaints on social networking sites deter them from doing repeat business? And deleting customer complaints is worse! So make sure you resolve your customer's complaints on social media platforms immediately. In case you can't resolve them, a minimum of respond so that they know they're being heard. Acknowledge everything.

Mention your Social networking presence: Advertise your profiles. Always provide links on your social media profile inside your website, blog, e-mails as well as print materials. For websites and blogs, you ought to add Facebook and twitter widgets which give a live feed of what's happening on your Facebook/twitter page, at that time on your website or blog. Provide incentives or value adding information for example whitepapers or articles as a way to encourage people to follow you on social media sites!

Monitor & moderate: Monitor your social networking presence. Find out where your name's approaching online and in what context it's been used. A Google alert may be the simplest way to do this, even though there are many free tools online to monitor your web presence. Also stay in-control of your social media pages. Read what others are putting up on your page and respond promptly.

Syndicate your Social media marketing content: Content creation will take time. So why not make the most of this article you have? Post your site content on all popular social networking sites and don't hesitate to re-use them. Turn your site post into a link and put it on Facebook. Morph it into a video and increase YouTube and Facebook or morph it into a presentation and put it up on SlideShare. The aim is to get maximum exposure for your content.

What you should not do?

DON'T overtly push your products/services: Social media is a platform

in which you build relationships, to create value. It isn't an advertising venue. Your audience

will shun you if whatever you talk about is the belongings you sell. Think about it, do you talk to your family

and friends concerning the products you sell constantly? Of course not! Then don't treat your

social networking audience any differently.

DON'T spam your contacts with pointless updates: OK, so now you added two new products to your line-up. While it is great to share the news, don't spam your contacts with ads. Placed a link to the new selection; monitor who is interested and share information about a need-to-know basis.

Don't possess grammar and spelling errors inside your posts: You are a small enterprise out to create an effect. Don't spoil it through spelling and grammatical errors. Use spelling/grammar checking tools, but never rely solely with them. Proofread your posts before putting them up online. If spelling or grammar just isn't your strong suit, have someone else proofread your work before it goes out

DON'T are not able to respond to requests for aid in your area of expertise: A high level part of a group or forum, seize every possiblity to display your expertise. Avoid being a wallflower-actively participate in discussions.

Never allow your profile get stale: Be sure that your profile is frequently updated so you offer something new. One mistake many small businesses proprietors make is creating social media profiles and then giving up on them. Your social websites efforts have to be on-going to bear results.