Social media is the single fastest growing method of staying connected with your client base. In today’s ultra-connected world, there is no better way to link up with your clients, providing them with useful information, and getting immediate feedback in return. But you know this already, I’ve written about it before. If you’ve been following my advice, you should already have fairly active social media accounts. The shift in the business world towards online practically demands it.

But just having a presence on all of the popular social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc) is far from enough. You need to engage your followers in a way that is interesting, informative, and ultimately keep you and your business fresh in their minds so that when they have need of a product or service that you offer, you are the one that they think of. So how do you go about accomplishing that? Here are some tips.

Be Engaging: The thing with social media is that at the core of every site, they’re not really a place people go with the intention of being sold things. They are sites designed with the purpose of social interaction. So rather than using your Facebook account for the sole purpose of marketing to people, you need to engage your followers on a social level. Be a community member, not a commercial. You want your interactions to come across like you are a real person genuinely enjoying speaking with people, and not like some guy in a cubicle who does nothing but post marketing copy for eight hours a day. Professionalism is still the order of the day, but try to keep it as casual as possible.

Be A Resource: The Internet is easily everyone’s go-to information source. But with so much false, or potentially misleading information out there, you use it as such at your own risk. It doesn’t have to be like that though, and the change can start with you. In addition to engaging your clients, you can also make your accounts a solid resource for information pertaining to your industry, something that will make people want to visit your page even if they don’t presently need what you have on offer. Let’s say you do design work. You can post things like information on new tools (software, hardware, pencils if you prefer a more old school approach), techniques, interesting art you’ve found across the Internet (with permission, of course). Ideally you want to create your own content, but if you can’t, it’s not a big deal. You only have to take a look at your personal Facebook or Twitter account to see people these days are absolutely gaga for reposting links, and you can do the same.

Be A Catalog: This applies to Facebook specifically. Some businesses have used the ability to upload images to galleries to create a catalog of their products. This has a lot of potential benefits. The obvious one being that you’ve now got an easily accessible resource right there on your page for everyone with an interest in what you have to offer. But thanks to this, you have the ability to get feedback from your followers on what you’re selling. The comments you receive on your images can be an incredibly valuable resource. And you can even gauge interest in things you’re working on but aren’t quite ready to launch yet.

Be Your Customer Service Department: The thing with that feedback I mentioned, is that it can also be used to provide better customer service. The thing about the Internet, is that people love to complain on it. And with the added bonus of a certain degree of anonymity, people have no problem complaining directly to you. Now in some cases this is absolutely pointless and serves no purpose aside from being, well, kind of a jerk, in most cases people will actually post to your Facebook, Twitter, etc. with legitimate complaints. And you can instantly deal with them right then and there. Social media is borderline instant, allowing you to roll out a solution to their problem faster and more effectively. I don’t recommend completely replacing your customer service interactions with social media, but adding it to your repertoire can only be beneficial.

Ultimately there are scores of ways you can make use of social media to improve your business, and these are just a few. Considering how new the idea of doing business through a site such as Facebook is, I’m sure many of those ways are just waiting for someone (perhaps you?) to discover them. Find ways to maximize the effectiveness of your social media presence, and you are sure to maximize your PIE.

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