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Victoria chamber's Building Better Businesses session encourages social media use for small businesses

By ALLISON MILES
May 31, 2012 at 12:31 a.m.

Lindsey Young

For more information on the Building Better Businesses series, contact the Victoria Chamber of Commerce at 361-573-5277 or visit www.VictoriaChamber.org.

From trending tweets to Facebook fans, to YouTube views and more, social media can play a major role in small-business ownership. And, on Thursday, entrepreneurs received some pointers.

The Victoria Chamber of Commerce hosted the third installment of its Building Better Businesses series at the University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center training room.

There, Lindsay Young, a certified business adviser with the development center, educated attendees on social media practices and how to grow business online.

Here are a few of her tips:

Remember an online presence is essentially a second business location.

Time, money and content are all important in keeping a healthy social media presence. The No. 1 problem a business can face is having stale information online. Make sure you have what you need to stay relevant.

Pick one social media outlet and master it.

Avoid starting numerous pages at once because they'll likely be mediocre. Instead, find the one that best suits your business and focus on that. You can grow from there.

Develop a social media policy.

While it is helpful to have employees in place to handle your company's social media pages, have guidelines in place so they know not to market themselves and update their own profiles throughout the workday.

Know that social media is about being social.

Interact with customers over your site and encourage interested employees to get online and get your business' name out there. Still, remember to have a policy in place.

Use social media to drive business to your page.

Don't place all of your company's information on the Facebook page. Instead, post pictures and sales, but direct people to the actual business website.

Go for as many "likes" and "followers" as possible.

The more fans you have on Twitter or Facebook, the more people you hit with each post or tweet. Still reach customers as you used to, whether through email or mailer, but direct them to your new social media sites.

Use surveys to gauge customer perceptions.

Numerous websites offer free survey services to help you determine your business' strengths and growing points. Paper surveys work, too. Whatever option you choose, pay attention to results, including the good, the bad and the ugly.

Don't be afraid.

Today's children grew up around computers and don't hesitate to play around and see what works. Take on that mindset. If you devote enough time and effort into it, social media will work for you.

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