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(ARA) – So you think you know social media? Maybe your brand has a Facebook page, you use LinkedIn and regularly tweet about sales and specials your small business is offering. But if you’re using social media as nothing more than a way to advertise online, you may not be maximizing its marketing power, experts say.

Social media – a collection of person-to-person Web technologies – offers the opportunity for low-cost, two-way interaction with current and prospective customers, and those who influence others’ opinions of your business. The real power of social media is that it can help your business be part of a community and participate in conversations with current and potential customers.

You can find a variety of social media sites and applications online. For small businesses, the best ROI comes from,,,, (and other document-sharing sites), and online forums/discussion boards (especially for niche industries with a very specific and sometimes small target market).

Using Twitter

  • Tweet interesting content. Learn what people are interested in and how to write a great tweet by subscribing to blogs that feature interesting content and to Twitter feeds that have numerous followers.
  • Make sure people know you’re on Twitter. Add your Twitter account info (your @name) to business cards, stationery and even invoices. Put a “follow me on Twitter” button on your website pages. Get listed with WeFollow and other Twitter directories.
  • Use filters, aggregators and alert services to monitor and join real-time conversations of interest to your current and potential customers, including customer experiences, complaints about competing services, company and product mentions, and even what journalists are thinking of or searching for regarding your industry.

Using Facebook

  • Create a fan page where you can offer applications, invite newsletter sign-ups, promote events and provide useful information. Facebook’s pre-built tools make it easy to upload or record video, hold contests and polls, and promote events.
  • Advertise online with Facebook ads to build awareness.
  • Use a Facebook Fan Box to connect your Facebook activity to your website and blog.

  • Using LinkedIn

    • Create a profile that is informative and builds your brand identity. Add a photo, create a branded URL, and link to your blog, products, workshops, Facebook page and more.
  • Recommendations are a top feature. Write a recommendation for people in your network with whom you’ve worked. Giving recommendations is the best way to get some as well.
  • The Question and Answer function gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise to potential contacts.

  • The experts also recommend you include in your social media toolbox Google Alerts, which allows you to receive e-mail or RSS alerts whenever your key phrase appears in online media, blogs, Web pages or news. performs a similar function to Google Alerts, but for Twitter. is a search engine that follows blog comments, which rarely make it into search results from mainstream search engines.

    Integrating social media and search marketing

    Of course, social media isn’t the only way to market your business online. You should also practice search engine optimization and paid search marketing. Potential customers need to be able to find you easily online, as well as engage with you through social media outlets. It makes sense to get help from a product designed to help small business owners simplify paid search marketing, such as SearchManager by American Express.

    SearchManager gives you one access point through which to view and manage campaigns on the major search engines, including Google Adwords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, Microsoft AdCenter and Facebook Ads. You no longer need to learn to use different interfaces, or remember multiple logins, thanks to the product’s single, customizable dashboard. You can track results and easily make changes to ensure that your advertising yields measurable results and increased business.

    SearchManager’s set of straightforward tools helps take the complexities out of search engine advertising and provides small businesses easy management across ad networks. To learn more about SearchManager and how it can help you advertise online, visit