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How to Engage Your Audience on Social Media

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    A common mistake small businesses make is jumping in full force in social media before defining what their goals should be for each platform. The lure of Facebook and Twitter are so appealing because they are free and just about everyone is using them. But be careful: If you don’t use them right, you may end up hurting your business more than helping it.

    First, you should get an overall understanding of each of these platforms and how they are used by their subscribers. There are countless books that can help make sense of what these platforms are and how they are being used.  

    Once you have a better understanding of what the Twitterverse is like and how Facebook is being used, it's time to consult with your team to figure out how each can help your business. Facebook and Twitter are very different from each other and should not be used in the same manner. There will be instances where something your company does should involve both a post and a tweet, but a good rule is to run them separate. Never auto-post the same message to both platforms at the same time -- it turns users of both platforms off.

    Facebook allows your company to set up pages or groups, which can be an extension of your online brand. Facebookers are looking for content delivered with pictures. It’s a way for consumers to literally see your products. To keep the masses interested, you’ll want to provide some personal insight into the business as well. A picture of an employee having fun at work can help the consumers to humanize your company. To keep telling your followers that it’s two-for-one night is going to get old fast.

    Twitter may seem similar, but it’s very different. Think of Twitter as shorter and on an endless caffeine binge. To post 30 times in two hours on Facebook would be unreasonable and people would unlike or hide your brand. On Twitter, short bursts work best and keep them coming! Often times I find it is relevant to tweet general information from your industry. As the Chicago Pizza Tour owner, I rarely tweet that we’re running a special. Instead I tend to try and direct my tweets for stuff that is new and interesting in the pizza business or Chicago. My followers pay attention more when they know I’m not just trying to drive my sales, but truly provide them information they are interested in.

    Using these platforms correctly will keep more eyeballs focused on what you are saying. Keeping those eyeballs interested will help to grow your online brand, and when that happens, good things follow.

    Jon Porter is the owner/operator of Chicago Pizza Tours, the first bus-guided tour of culturally significant and neighborhood pizzerias in Chicago.