By Sharon Jones

When it comes to social media, most businesses don’t have a clue. We’re not talking about some uber-geeky hipster SEO company. We’re talking about dental practices, car mechanics and massage therapists: just regular businesses, trying to get ahead.

A common myth about social media marketing is that everything you post should have some immediate, measurable impact on your bottom line. This isn’t how social media works. Instead, it’s about creating an account that is active and attractive that people can relate to.

Here are some ways businesses can boost their social media marketing efforts.

Tip #1: Develop Relationships

The whole purpose of social media marketing is to develop meaningful relationships with your potential customers. You want to create an environment where users are talking about your product and brand. This means that you’ll need to engage them on their terms, either through humor, goodwill or exciting imagery. The idea is to give customers something that they’ll find valuable for free in order to entice them to interact more frequently with your company.

Using these techniques helps to develop a sense of camaraderie between customers and businesses. Instead of seeing you as a monolithic entity with no personality, developing relationships with customers allows them to see your company for what it really is: a collection of committed people. This is why social media is so powerful.

Tip #2: Invite Conversations

One of the reasons that companies go to specialist agencies, like Groove Medical, is because they need help generating conversations about their business online. After all, it’s sometimes hard to think about how you’d get people talking about your salsa class business or your new dental practice. But it turns out that there’s almost always a way, no matter how dull you might think your business is. If you’re a fitness trainer, for instance, you could show some before and after photos of your clients. If you’re a dentist, you could, with their permission, show pictures of how you’ve improved somebody’s smile.

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If you’re really stuck for ideas, you can always reach out to the community and just ask them questions. For instance, the dating website eHarmony sent out a question: Who is more stubborn? Men or women? - along with a photo. Because the question was provocative, it generated a significant response in the community.

Tip #3: Share Your Blog Content

There’s nothing wrong with resharing content you’ve already created. In fact, given how much shuffling goes on on social media feeds, it’s practically impossible to avoid. A good way to preface your repeated posts is with the #ICYMI hashtag, letting people know that this is content that you have already produced.

Tip #4: Share Curated Content

Top brands don’t just spam out their own content, day after day. They also curate the content of others when it’s relevant to their brand. A company called Chobani which provides healthy living products to customers regularly posts links to articles relevant to its products, like health and fitness blogs and the latest news from the world of nutrition science.

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