Social marketing is an integral part of any effective inbound marketing strategy. Combined with other inbound efforts, social marketing can increase traffic to your website and also launch your small business or start-up into the viral marketing realm, quite literally overnight. In fact, social marketing is so effective in this regard that most businesses now have a rather extensive social marketing platform. However, many are getting social networking wrong. Establishing an effective social marketing strategy isn’t difficult, but it does require some careful planning and foresight.

As a small business owner or start-up, you’ll be pleased to know that social marketing is virtually free. Providing you have the time to devote to social networking, you can take on the task of social marketing yourself. Many businesses also employ interns to take on their social marketing tasks because college students are already tuned-in to social media.

Find the benefits from Social Marketing

So how do you get social marketing right for your start-up or established small business? It’s not that hard, really. The first thing you need to do is determine what social networks to use. In order to reach all of your demographics, you’ll want to use multiple social networking sites.

For example, if you are a small camera company, you might determine that you would benefit most from using Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Both Instagram and Pinterest are photo driven social networks. Therefore, a lot of photographers and photography lovers will be on these networks. You can complement these two networks with the more broad appeal of Twitter and Facebook. As you can see, having exposure on multiple sites will give you a much broader exposure to your target demographic.

Just like a wise investor, diversification is the key to success with social marketing. Not all of your customers or prospects will be using just one social networking site. Therefore, if you are on a few carefully selected sites, you’ll be sure to be hitting your target demographic. This is important because social marketing is an important part of any inbound marketing campaign. If you want to increase traffic and enter the viral marketing realm via social marketing, you’ll need to be reaching your demographic through every avenue possible.

With that in mind, you will also want to be sure that you’ll be able to be an active participant in the social networks that you join. Members of each social network you join will expect that you’ll be available to interact with them on a daily basis. Therefore, only join a social network if you are sure that you’ll be an active member. Share valuable information, helpful resources, entertaining videos, fun pictures, relevant newspaper articles and anything else you thing your contacts might find interesting on a daily basis. Join in the conversation and contribute. Over time, your inbound marketing efforts will pay off and increase traffic to your website. Remember, you don’t need to enter the viral marketing realm to be successful with social marketing.