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This is a guest post from Angie, our Adelaide web design agency's Admin Assistant, as she takes her first steps towards using social media for business. Keep an eye out for her online yoga store, opening soon!

Social media is fast becoming one of the most effective ways of promoting your brand and gaining leads. Depending on the nature of your business, it isn't always as straightforward as it would seem to gain likes and followers. When I first started promoting my social media pages I thought it would have a 'follow-on' effect of sorts. I envisioned one person clicking like or follow and their friends seeing, doing the same, and within weeks I'd have thousands of fans with minimal effort. That may have been naive of me, and I have since learned that it takes time to build trust and gain interest.

Although individual social media platforms are different, there are some 'dos and don'ts' that are essential if you want to build successful social media pages.

First of all you need to create your pages, whether it be a Twitter account, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, or all of the above! [Editor: Twitter, Facebook and Google+ should all be adopted for businesses pursuing social media. Google+ remains something of a dark horse, it lags in popularity but it’s integration with Google’s search engine makes it a worthwhile investment of your time and efforts. Pinterest, meanwhile, can prove a great boon for online stores: http://pinterest.com/pin/212372938651271280/] Your mission statement should be clear and concise, and sum up your business in a mere few words. Including your logo on your page is a good start, and it can also be helpful to have a good photo of yourself as a profile picture to make your page seem more personal and approachable. Once you're ready to begin promoting your page, there is an option to invite your email contacts. This is a good place to start.

If you have a business website or a blog, add links to your social media pages in the sidebar so visitors can easily link to your pages. Likewise for any emails you send to customers - make sure you add your links in your signature, just as you would your other contact details. If you upload videos onto YouTube you can add your links at the end of your videos. Facebook allows you to integrate your Twitter page, as well as Pinterest, nicely placed at the top of the page. This is a smart way of making your fans aware of your other social media pages.

I have found Twitter and Pinterest easier to gain followers than Facebook as when you click to follow somebody else, provided their interests are similar to yours, a good portion of them tend to follow back (so long as they haven't attracted hundreds of thousands of followers - don't expect Bill Gates to follow your Twitter page back!). A good idea with Twitter is to have a look through the 'who to follow' recommendations and follow those you are interested in. Don't be too click-happy and follow them all because some won't follow your page back anyway and you'll eventually have to unfollow them. [Editor: every business owner on Twitter wants a larger audience and it’s become a mutually beneficial tactic to follow your followers. If you follow an account with either a roughly equal or larger proportion of following to followers, there’s a good chance you’ll be followed back.]

Once you are ready to post, or tweet, common sense is the key. Whether you're posting on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, aim for quality as opposed to quantity. 1-2 posts per day is ideal, but if you bombard people with random information it may come across as 'spammy' and some are likely to unfollow your page in order to clear up their feeds. Avoid controversial personal opinions unless it is relevant to your business (perhaps you're a shock jock!) as these tend to upset people who don't feel the same and some may even hit unfollow. [Editor: conversely, controversial opinions are a great for link bait!] However, don't be afraid to build a friendly rapport with your fans and ask questions.

Make sure you engage with your followers: reply to any questions they may have and don't just make the page all about you. You can search Twitter for tweets with keywords relating to your interests and reply to them. Aim to reply or post during peak times (10 am - 4.00 pm, most popular time being around lunchtime 1.00 pm) - you may not get so many views if you're posting at 3 in the morning!

A popular way of gaining attention on Facebook is holding contests / giveaways. If you're considering this, first ask yourself: is this likely to attract loyal followers who are genuinely interested in what I have to offer? [Editor: we’ll also post in the future about Facebook ‘like gating’ – making valuable content on your website available to visitors after they’ve liked your page.] There is also the option of advertising using Facebook Ads, and I've heard they attract around 1 like per day - at a cost, of course! Twitter directories have proven helpful as you can list yourself under relevant categories and people can search for your industry. Twellow is one example.

No matter which social media platforms you decide to use, the aim is generally the same - to provide relevant information about your business and get followers interested in what you have to offer. Let us know in the comments below if we have left anything out that you believe is important when building your social media pages.

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