Turning "Likes" Into Customer Loyalty With Social Media Marketing Regardless of your company's target market or product offering, it is becoming very difficult to stay competitive if you are unwilling to reach out to customers. Expanding into social media is one of the most effective ways to take advantage of Internet marketing, and it is quickly becoming an absolute must for any business. Its appeal is universal. Social media marketing works well for both online-only companies and those with a physical location. Furthermore, different platforms offer different levels of customization and can be tailored to reach different groups of consumers. The most popular social media platforms--Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+--are so valuable because users can and do share things with others with significant regularity. In the past, many argued that only dissatisfied customers shared their opinions with others. Today, however, users can quickly share their favorite products, companies and promotions with hundreds of friends at the click of a mouse. What business owner wouldn't want to take advantage of such an incredible--not to mention affordable--marketing tool? Including a blog on your company's website offers online users an incentive to check your page frequently--but only if you regularly update it with interesting, relevant content. Posts could include customer success stories, detailed examples of novel uses for your product or even images of your product in action. The possibilities are endless! For best results, include a feature that allows readers to quickly share your posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. With more than 200 million users, social media giant Facebook is a force to be reckoned with. Creating a Facebook page for your company is a no-brainer, especially if you cater to teens and young adults. Use the page to promote upcoming sales, interact with customers and publicize product launches. As a word of advice, always keep your personal and professional accounts separate. Many business owners fail to take advantage of Twitter, falsely believing that little can be achieved in less 140 characters (the limit for individual Tweets). Actually, Twitter provides an opportunity to deliver than condensed, highly relevant updates to followers. Respond to followers, announce sales or offer promotional codes--short and sweet. If your company markets its products and services primarily at other businesses, consider creating a LinkedIn profile. Larger companies may also use LinkedIn as a means of reinforcing the professional ties between current and former employees; this also has potential applications for recruiting efforts. Using a company profile, you also have the option to create a group on the site. Strengthen your group's presence by linking to your company's website or blog, or post news and information relevant to your industry. Many businesses find that video-sharing sites, especially YouTube, offer an opportunity to engage online users visually. For example, you could create an interesting video of a representative demonstrating the correct way to use your products, a recorded customer testimonial praising your company or even a short advertisement inviting users to create a creative video short as part of a contest. As social media sites become increasingly popular, businesses that exclusively adopt traditional marketing methods are not likely to experience optimal growth. Social networking presents a world of opportunities for companies to reach, engage and serve a growing customer base.