Social media is becoming more business friendly, as customers are using it to express their likes and dislikes about local businesses. The ability for customers to voice their opinions is easier than ever; for example, Facebook’s “Like” button is a simple yet effective way for people to show their support for a local business. With “Check-in” features on many social networks, as well as the ability to leave online ratings and reviews, it is vital for local businesses to join the online community. Social media is an effective way to promote a business or any special discounts. It is also the quickest way for information to spread. The ‘word of mouth’ factor exponentially faster online, where people can share a piece of information across multiple networks with a click of a button. For local business owners, maintaining a Facebook Page and Twitter account isn’t enough. In order to really make the most out of social media, here are some important tips to follow:

1. Create a social media strategy: Figure out which social networks are best suited for your local business. Evaluate the latest social media trends and how they impact your business’ strategy.

2. Go beyond the norm: Instead of relying on the most popular social networks, find ones that directly benefit your business. For example, if you own a clothing boutique, put your items on Pinterest and encourage people to repin your pictures.

3. All feedback is good feedback: Even if you receive a negative review, it can help you tailor your marketing strategy. Be sure to respond to all feedback and try to answer as many questions as possible. You want to cultivate a relationship with your customers.

4. Get your name out there: List your business on as many local directories as possible. The more times your name is out there, the easier it will be for consumers to find you.

5. Add some personality: Manage daily social media postings in a way that is sustainable, effective, and fun. You want to sound as personable as possible, so that people invest more confidence in your products and services.

Social media can be a tremendous asset for increasing sales and building a relationship with customers. Having a social media presence is also practical brand-building. Local business owners can also use social media as a supportive measure in order to provide encouragement and valuable referrals.