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Social Media is a broad term used to describe all the different online technology tools that enable people to communicate easily via the Internet through sharing information and resources. Methods used include posts on blogs or forums, sharing of photos, audio clips, videos and links, creating profiles on social networking sites, and posting status updates—usually with a feedback mechanism. Although social media started out as a medium for friends and family to share information, businesses now leverage many of these tools to market their small business.

Key Social Media Platforms to Consider for Small Business:

E-Mail Marketing
Email marketing is directly marketing a commercial message to a group of people using email. In its broadest sense, every email sent to a potential or current customer could be considered email marketing.
Examples:  Mailchimp | Tell'Em | Constant Contact

A blog is a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual, small group or business that is written in an informal or conversational style. It is frequently updated with commentaries, news, articles with images, videos and text, and therefore is an excellent way to share information and expertise with your target audience and engage people.
Examples:  Blogger | Wordpress | Weebly

Microblogging is a combination of blogging and instant messaging that allows users to create a short message that is posted on their profile.  Micro-blogging provides a quick way to communicate with a group of people.
Examples:  Twitter | Tumblr

Photo Sharing
Photo sharing is the publishing or transfer of a user's digital photos online, thus enabling the user to share them with others (publicly or privately).
Examples:  Pinterest | Instagram | Flickr
Video Sharing is one of the fastest growing activities online and involves the process of uploading, publishing and sharing video clips online.
Example: YouTube | Vimeo

Social Networking
A social networking service is an online service, platform, or site that focuses on facilitating the building of social networks or social relations among people who, for example, share interests, activities, backgrounds, or real-life connections.
Examples:  Facebook | LinkedIn | Google+

Best Practices for Engaging In Social Media:

  1. Listen and participate in social media conversations to understand the rules and market landscape.
  2. Develop a plan for what you want to achieve with your social media efforts.
  3. Create compelling, high-quality content that resonates with your audience.
  4. Contribute, collaborate, inform, educate but do not sell.
  5. Network with industry influencers who will share good content and promote you in the process.
  6. Optimize your social media efforts by tracking results and fine-tuning your strategy accordingly.
  7. When responding to a negative comment, don’t argue or become personal. Always reply in a professional manner and learn from the writer’s input or comments.
  8. Always address issues as they arise within the social media. Don’t stay silent as this will cause more challenges.
  9. Don’t sell! Be informative, transparent and authentic. Share quality content.

Valuable links to understanding Social Media for Business: 

Province of Ontario
Yellow Pages Group
Social Media Examiner
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