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Building an Online Reputation through Social Media

On Monday we touched on the importance of establishing your small business on the various social networking sites and in the blogging community. But setting up your accounts and creating new, unique content is only half the battle. Once you have the tools in place, you must be proactive in order to grow and expand your presence on the internet.

According to a recent Nielsen study, users spend 22% of their time on the internet engrossed in social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. And remember, this isn’t just users in the United States—this is on a global scale. In addition, three out of every four people who go online will visit a social network or blog. If you take just one thing away from these statistics, it should be that people are increasingly turning to social media.

Although social media was originally viewed purely as a source of entertainment and interaction, it has morphed into a perceived source of reliable information. YouTube is currently attempting to position itself as a major news provider through a nature feature dubbed YouTube News Feed.  And sites like Facebook and Twitter are constantly evolving to offer more integration with traditional news outlets.

These social networking sites afford you the opportunity as a small business entrepreneur to become an authoritative source of information on your products. In order to tap into this market of eager social media patrons, however, you have to be able to network online. If no one knows about the information and insight you are providing, it doesn’t do your business, or your customers, any good. Here are a few tips to help you establish online recognition and credibility:

~Stay Up-to-Date: As you know, the trends in social media are constantly changing, so it is important to check out blogs and newswires to stay ahead of the curve.

 ~Create Content: One of the best ways to gain credibility and drive traffic is through the creation of unique and pertinent content. Blogs are currently the optimal way to introduce this content, although it should be used in conjunction with your social media accounts as well.

~Expand Your Network: Leave comments on other blogs relating to your business and contribute in discussion groups. Reach out to people who follow you or become your friend online, and be sure to respond to their comments and questions. And remember: You should always maintain a cordial, professional tone as you are constantly representing your business.

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