The check is in the post

Starting a business? Start it right on social networks.

With earned publicity increasingly hard to find and start-up ad budgets small, social media looks like a sure-fire way to promote a business on the cheap. Social networks can help new owners build their trade but the model is different from the top-down, broadcast marketing of traditional media. And while many sites are free to join, the time and effort you’ll need could run up your costs.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Sarah Needleman interviewed a few start-up owners for their take on using social media. Their conclusions?

  • Join social networking sites as a consumer first.
  • Get familiar with the tenor of the conversation on each site.
  • Secure your business name on the sites in which you’re interested.
  • Make sure your business is fully functioning before joining.
  • Talk with visitors, friends and followers rather than at them.
  • Engage your audience with contests, surveys and social offers.

One more tip that wasn’t in the article: don’t ignore traditional media and methods. While a press release isn’t the same as a conversation it could start one.

Rethinking social media

MegaphoneThere’s a decent article over at PRSA on how companies can more effectively use social media to promote their business.

Yes, it says the usual things but author Anthony Rotolo makes a point worth repeating: social networks aren’t broadcast media. They’re about conversation. You don’t push a message, or a product. You create a dialog with clients and customers. You help them solve problems. You ask them for advice. And you use that feedback to make your products and services more useful.

Seems like something worth shouting about.