Free social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and whatever new sites popped up last week — are great ways to promote your online business and develop a brand identity without spending a lot of bucks. The big strength of social media is that it enables you to actually engage both potential and existing customers and interact with them, as if you were the old-time corner grocer or clothing salesman who chatted up whoever walked in the door.
But building an effective presence on social media isn't necessarily easy. First off, you've got to create content about your business area — whether it's stereo headphones, skydiving gear or collectible troll dolls — that's both interesting and authoritative enough to draw people in and keep them coming back. You've got to have the deftness to do it without too conspicuously touting your own wares. You've also got to be gregarious enough to engage people in conversations. Ideally, some of those people should be online influencers — bloggers or Twitter users with big audiences, for example — with whom you can develop reciprocal relationships, in which they link to your content and vice versa [source: Gunelius].