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.