Marketing has gradually evolved in recent years to match changing technologies. No longer is marketing geared toward print ads and targeted media campaigns. For today’s business, social media offers an unprecedented opportunity to easily get the word out without spending a fortune on advertising.

Having a well-designed, informative website is the first step in setting up your online presence. Once your website is in place, it’s time to drive people to it. Print ads and billboards aren’t quite as effective in publicizing a website. You need to catch consumers while they’re already online, providing a handy link that allows them to click through to your site.

Social media has proven a great forum for marketing websites and services. Businesses can reach hundreds, even thousands, of consumers with one or two daily posts. Because of this, social media has taken off in popularity. But for small businesses, tackling social media can be daunting, especially if you’ve never tried to interact on a site like Facebook or Twitter before. By following these step by step guidelines, you should be able to get your social media marketing campaign underway.

  • Set up a profile. Since there are many social media sites these days, you may feel more comfortable starting with only a couple of profiles. Facebook is still the reigning social media site, so a profile on there will give you the potential to reach a wider audience. If your demographic is younger consider a site like Tumblr. If you’re seeking a female audience, Pinterest might be the best site for you, since the site’s membership as of late January 2012 was 80% female. Twitter is great for business marketing and customer service, since you can search the site for mentions of your business and interact directly.
  • Stress your website on your social media page setup. You can use your cover photo on Facebook or duplicate your web design as your background on Twitter. Make sure you prominently link to your website in any “About” sections. This will allow your followers to find your site without having to constantly post it.
  • Link to new content. Instead of repeatedly providing a link to your site, post informative articles or blogs on your site that will keep customers coming back. Then, when you post the link to your social media sites, you’ll send users to your site without seeming like you’re spamming everyone.
  • Interact. One of the most important determinants of success in setting up your social media presence is participation. In other words, if you set up a series of pages and never post to any of them, you’ll find most of your followers will lose interest. Find others in your community or area of interest and interact with them. Responding to comments on your social media pages will show your customers you care.

While social media is still a relatively new area to the world of marketing, there are many great examples of successful media campaigns on social networking sites. As you set up your own pages, look to other, similar companies to yours and note what they are doing to engage customers.