Social Media Marketing is THE way that most savvy marketers convey their message to an insatiable, hungry audience. If you’re not using social media marketing platforms like Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, iTunes, Twitter or WordPress, your prospects have virtually no way of finding you on the Internet. And how long can you let THAT go on?Social media marketing- one of the simpler ways to connect and become involved with your audience.When you listen to your audience, acknowledge them and their participation in your business, you’ll find that they become more loyal and champions for your business.Do you know that more than 95% of Internet users use online searches when they’re researching YOU? And 45 million Americans have cell phones with Internet capabilities. Facebook and Twitter have over 700 million members and they just keep on growing. Shouldn’t you be where these people are looking?Ask yourself these questions:Are you easy to find online? And not just by your name or company name. Can searchers find you by the keywords that best represent you and your business, service or product?When your audience visits their favorite online places, will they find YOU? Or will they more likely find your competition?Once they connect with you, do you already have a program in place which allows you to engage with them over and over again?Do you have a plan to start using cell phone (mobile) marketing?If the answer to any of these questions is “NO,” you’ve got to ask yourself “WHY NOT?” If you want to keep a viable business, marketing online is a must, because the majority of your competitors are, or will be shortly.Here are five ways that social media marketing can help improve your relationship with clients and to turn them into big fans, because NOTHING is more powerful than a client coming through a referral.1. Be SocialRemember, it’s called “SOCIAL MEDIA” for a reason. Never before in history has social media marketing made it so easy to communicate with your prospects, and clients, for such a tiny investment. You can, and should, communicate with them over and over again. That’s not to say you should email, text, or call them every day. You’ll find out soon enough what a good communication interval will be- believe me, your audience will tell you! The goal here is to become familiar to your prospects, because people buy from companies they know, like and trust.An effective Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and email campaign will give you numerous opportunities to let your audience get to know you, begin to like you, learn to trust you, and develop an on-going beneficial relationship.Consistent and frequent communication is key, as with any important relationship. Social media marketing makes this possible.2. You Simply Must Produce Your Own Videos For Social Media MarketingIn 2011, YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine. (YouTube gets over 1 BILLION views per day!) Viewers go to YouTube for solutions to their problems, looking for videos that’ll show them how to do something, and researching reviews on a product or service.You must develop a presence there. Create your own YouTube channel and begin posting videos with solutions, how-to’s, and training, etc. You can use a Digital Video Camcorder, or even easier is a Flip Video Camera, or Kodak ZI-10. (We prefer the ZI-10 because it has an external mic input which allows use of a lavalier mic to get better sound.) These cameras shoot in HD, and capture incredible-looking videos. Editing tools like Screenflow for the Mac, Sony Vegas Movie Studio, CyberLink’s PowerDirector and Windows Movie Maker help you make very cool-looking videos.3. Be creative with your Social Media Marketing platformsThis growing collection of Social Media marketing platforms offer numerous opportunities for growing your business through branding. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:* Get pens made up with your Twitter username (@_______), or with a request to “Connect With Me On Facebook.” There’s a subtle, friendlier feel a person experiences when they get a pen with a Social Media aspect to it rather than a pen with just your company name on it. Have fun with this.* You could do the same with coffee cups or mugs, and the whole advertising specialty realm. Think about having a “social meeting” at your place of business and give attendees their coffee mug in person.* Produce a monthly video and at the end of it, ask viewers to follow you on Twitter or become your “friend” you on Facebook. Add the Facebook “Like” button to all your pages.* Include your social media contact information in the signature of all your emails and in the Resource Box at the bottom of the articles you write and distribute.4. Increase Your Brand Exposure And Build Customer LoyaltySocial media marketing, and the Internet as a whole, is probably the quickest way a company can build brand loyalty. (Conversely, one of the quickest ways to destroy it, too.) Because you have the potential to reach so many people so quickly, online word-of-mouth can spread your name, business, product and/or service around the world in a matter of minutes.If you’ve taken good care of your customers, they’re more likely to tell their friends through the social media network: Twitter, Facebook, their blogs, personal YouTube videos, articles, social bookmarking sites, podcasts, webinars and so on. Since these are the places your customers visit, shouldn’t you be there when they visit? Imagine the potential of having all those people in your corner singing your praises.When marketing on the Internet, it doesn’t matter if you’re local, regional, nation-wide or international- you can reach your audience for a fraction of what it would cost using “traditional” marketing. Certainly, it’s going to take a fair amount of work to develop these social media marketing campaigns, but you would have been doing similar work for traditional marketing. Except now, your reach is exponentially greater, with the most important added benefit- you’ll begin having a conversation with your audience. You’ll be establishing relationships that will hopefully continue for years to come. You can’t do that with postcards, magazine ads, catalogs, or radio and TV advertising.Social Media Marketing will not improve your bottom line overnight. But if used effectively, you’ll begin to see a momentum shift in your business, and who knows, maybe one of your videos, article or podcasts will go “viral.” Wouldn’t that be nice?5. Create Your Own Social Network SiteBelieve it or not, you can create your own Social Network site- in almost no time at all. Two of the better known platforms are Ning.com and SocialGo.com.Ning has a fast growing number of political groups, musicians, entertainers and well-known brands who find this social networking platform useful. Ellen Degeneres has her own site, as do Hershey’s Chocolate, Martha Stewart, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Epilespy Foundation.SocialGO calls itself the “social network maker.” They’re based in the UK and offer free and premium plans for building your own social network. Some of their customers include: LEVI Strauss, The Apple Store, Walmart, and Random House Publishing.One nice feature that SocialGO offers is their “live video chat sidebar.” You can dial up a member and chat with them live directly through the site.