If you are a small business owner, it’s a good chance that you are already looking at social media marketing methods to build your brand, gain new customers and retain those you already have. Many small businesses are not equipped with large TV and newspaper advertising budgets, so instead they are forced to become smarter. They are using Internet tools to seek out new customers through user interaction on popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linked In and others.

As Internet technology evolves, small-to-medium-sized companies more and more are integrating their online marketing into their overall marketing strategies. If your business is moving in the direction of more social media marketing efforts, you’ve made the first step in raising your local awareness among potential customers who are searching online for services like yours. Social media marketing experts can help elevate your company’s overall awareness by delivering various types of web content, media, articles, videos, press releases, photos and more to spread your business’s Google search rankings.

One of the first steps toward growing local search is by getting all the right tags into your website’s framework. Once your website is optimized for search, you can then tie in keywords with search engines, and emphasize tags to grow your site’s link-ability within social-media sites. To further your company’s local search rankings, you can provide links back to the most relevant pages on your web site, to bring about an ‘attraction’ between your site and the search rankings. By doing so, you can start to find ways to monetize and convert that web traffic into some sort of response.

Some small businesses are already all over the opportunity. They are producing and publishing blog posts with links, news releases for company activities, themed articles with search optimized links, photos, YouTube videos and more. Over time, by creating this content, with links back to your relevant home pages, a brand can achieve much higher online awareness levels.

One of the tough hurdles for companies in the early stages of social media marketing is finding out exactly how customers are using the Internet to search for their particular product or service. Some companies put in keywords in their web pages, thinking those are the terms that customers are using to find them. Quite often, that’s a hunch and not borne out by search numbers.

That’s how my social media marketing firm helps companies online. We can figure out pretty exactly how customers search for their business online, and then help the business get their own website in sync with those searches. We look at how they’re a business is positioned, the terms they use and how they describe themselves. The key is to find a connection between those doing the searching and those wanting to be found. That becomes the basis of helping local businesses to build an online presence, a social media footprint, and for most intent and purposes, their future brand.

Author is Matthew O’Brien, co-founder of Mint Social ( www.mintsocial.com ), a Scottsdale, AZ-based social media marketing firm that’s consistently ranked by topseos.com in the top 10 Social Media Marketing companies.

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