Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are great places for businesses to stay connected to current customers and to find new ones. However, after the initial novelty of setting up a business page on Facebook or starting a company Twitter account wears off, many businesses abandon their update efforts feeling that simply creating a presence on these sites is enough. Don’t buy into this fallacy, especially when following a few simple tips can get your business socially connecting like never before.

First, avoid the temptation to make every post a sales pitch. Not only will this appear desperate, it may actually have the reverse effect by having what followers a business has gained fleeing the page like it carries a communicable disease. One or two posts linking to the businesses website a week is probably sufficient enough to drive traffic without appearing pushy. Most business owners that have been slow to embrace social media fear public criticism or think their business will appear unprofessional if they allow it to appear too personal on the web, but the businesses that have huge success on Facebook and Twitter are the accounts that act like people, not businesses. Don’t be afraid to discuss things not related to the product for sale. Open up about employee hobbies, fun facts about the city where the business is located, or the type of music the boss listens to. Besides gaining the trust of followers, highlighting the lighter side of corporate culture can help attract top talent to the company as well.

Second, remember the reciprocal rule of social networking, “those who promote others will get promoted.” Tweet about a local charity, and provide a link to the nonprofit’s website, or suggest a blog that always has relevant information for a particular business niche. Take the time to personally thank new followers for adding the business to their network. Twitter  is also a great forum to publicly answer a specific person’s question, as in, “Yes, @Matt we do offer a 15% discount to new customers!” The customer will appreciate the direct contact, but in addition, the correspondence will be visible to all of that person’s followers. Facebook recently added the ability to “tag” another Facebook user in a status post, so the personal answer technique should be tried there as well.

Third, Twitter and Facebook are great venues for posting testimonials. A testimonial is even more effective when it doesn’t come from the business itself, so some business owners even offer freebies, discounts on purchases, or free shipping if customers tweet or post testimonials promoting the business. The business should advertise this unique opportunity in a direct message to their Facebook and Twitter than perform a search over the next few days to see what testimonials appear. If enough people post about their positive experience, the business will gain followers and probably start to see referral sales as a result.

Third, use Google Trends and view Twitter’s “Trending” topics to check on the hot searches and topics of the day and, if appropriate, work one into a post. This type of real-time relevance will generate higher interest in the businesses status feed and increase the chance of messages from the business being shared.

By staying personal, relevant, and generous in “real-time” a business can quickly grow their social media reach and create a valuable funnel to generate sales.

Brendan Blowers is the marketing director at Stadri Emblems, a company with over 30yrs of experience and a leader in the custom embroidery industry.