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I’ve had the opportunity to help a lot of different niches in social media marketing. I learned how to do all of what you read in this blog by assisting musicians, studios, bands, and songwriters in setting up and promoting over social media.

Then, as I got better at it, I moved onto businesses, politicians, and other organizations, who began asking me for advice on social media. Seven years ago, when moving away from the music industry, I had to start helping people deal with something that I never had at my disposal before – large advertising budgets.

One thing I ran into a lot was the fan count war. I had previously dealt with this in bands, but instead of wasting only time to get “empty fans” a lot of business owners were actually ready to waste time and money to grow their fan count to what they thought it should be.

The problem I see is that people are throwing money into pay-per-click advertising, web banners, incentives, and other forms of direct marketing techniques to try to grow their social media following. People seem to understand that they need a presence on social media, but don’t know exactly how to do it, or what their presence really should be.

The bottom line is this: When you have a social network consisting of customers, and not just empty fans, you’ll be a lot better off than the person with thousands of so called followers. It’s not bad to have a lot of fans, but don’t spend a lot of time trying to get a national presence if people can’t buy from you nationally.

Always Focus On Building Your Community!

People are spending a lot of money these days to advertise over social media, only because they think they should. It is obvious that you need to have a presence on social media, but the amount really depends on the niche and potential market.

Social Media is not just “buy an ad” and customers come. Social media is used for relationship building, customer service, and connecting with other people. You cannot simply set up your profiles, start shelling out money for pay-per-click ads, and expect to grow your business. It does not work that way (no matter what your business is).

In fact, if you are setting up social media for the first time, I want you to spend an entire month spending NO money on social networking (unless you are paying to have someone maintain your social media network).

That’s right. For the first month, spend NOTHING on advertising via social media websites.

What this will do is really allow you to familiarize yourself with updating content, getting in touch with current clients, and allowing word-of-mouth to spread the news about your company. After you have yourself set up and established on social media, you can start to test ad campaigns, if you still think they are necessary.

Social media should be used in conjunction with traditional marketing techniques and is not a replacement for yellow pages, ad campaigns, sales calls, and the sales strategies you’ve used in the past. Social media marketing is for building customer relationships.

Also, always make sure you are tracking the campaigns you use to promote your social networking sites. Don’t just launch a $2,000 ad campaign. You may be able to get the same results for a lot less than that, if you do it right. Use the tracking methods I discussed earlier to see what social networking sites are generating traffic to your main website, and which ones are getting the most customer buzz.

Give it Some Time

As far as knowing if your social networking is successful for your business, you want to give it a good 6 months or so before losing faith in it. Usually what you see are bursts of excitement, so when you initially set up you’ll get a lot of follows, then it will level off, then when you release a promotion or campaign you’ll see another burst, and then level off, and so on and so forth.

I want to give you a quick word of caution on hiring someone to maintain your social networking page. Make sure that they themselves are also familiar with the correct ways of updating and maintaining social networking pages. It’d be a pretty big waste of money (and time) to have someone updating your page and reaching out to your customers if they aren’t building relationships either.

To sum up, make sure that you realize that you don’t necessarily need to spend money to grow your business on social networking websites. In fact, most of your investment will be time. If you follow the time-saving techniques I talked about earlier, that will cut down your investment in social networking, and you’ll feel a lot better about the outcome.