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So you have decided you want to use social media marketing to expand your business and attract more customers, and build a stronger customer relationship. Great! But where to start?

Before you dive into the deep end using the different social networking sites, it’s good to have your marketing plan set up which you can follow. Firstly, decide what exactly your goals are going to be when using social media.

Market – Do you want to create brand awareness for your business over the Internet?

Customer Relationship – Do you want to build a stronger foundation with your current customers, boosting their loyalty?

Sales – Do you want to achieve higher sales and revenue by using social media?

Remember, you can choose just one of these social media marketing strategies, you can choose all three if you wish, but if you it will be a little more work, and will require a little more creativity. Either way your marketing plan must be based around the choice.

Next do you advertise solely on paper in the “real world”? Or do you have a website ready to market your business? This is important, because if you do build a strong customer base using social media, you can use this base and direct them towards your website right to your products and services.

Thirdly, one thing very important to consider is your target audience. Who exactly are you trying to contact? If you wish to contact a young, hip audience, you have come to the right place. If your audience is a little older, don’t worry they are there but you will have to dig a little deeper – this older generation is the faster growing sector in social media. Target audience will also determine the way you use language; you can get away easily by using informal language with a young audience, but with an older audience it’s best to stay more on the formal, professional side.

OK, now it’s time to choose the platform to start your social media marketing. Remember, you can choose one or all of them if you wish.

Facebook now has over 800 million users. This means the potential outreach is huge and the diversity of customers is very high, so you will always be the type of customer that you wish to attract. To set up a Facebook profile is simple. Just go to the website, and sign up. Once you have a personal profile then you create a “Page” for your business – a Page can have an unlimited amount of subscribers, whereas your personal profile, alongside looking unprofessional, can only hold 5,000 subscribers.

Twitter – Twitter has been on the rise ever since it launched. Again, to set up a profile is easy. Sign-up, log in, create a profile picture, and now you can update your status of 140 characters each. Your messages are short but sweet. You can link to your website, you can follow others, and they follow you.

YouTube – The video social media tool. YouTube has been around since 2005, and it’s become massive. Use it to upload original videos. The better quality your videos, the higher the chance of people seeing it, though heart felt ones do just as well.

Google+ - This is Google’s answer to Facebook. It works in much the same way, only some terminology has changed. Last time I checked it had over 20 million users, but as dropped off in the last few months. The introduction of Business Pages will see this change I am sure. Use it in conjunction with the other platforms and you will have a wider outreach.

LinkedIn is considered the network for professionals, though they too are consumers, so ruling it out may be a little short sighted. It is more one to one rather than business to business in it’s construct, yet it is a network and therefore ripe for social media marketing.

Remember to first create your strategy, then your marketing plan for social media, create your ideal customer avatar list and then act; choose the social media networking sites to meet the marketing plan and you’ll be much better off than many other businesses.

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