1. Branding – Create a recognizable identity for your product or service. This is extremely important for a small business.
2. Create a buzz – Get the word out about your products and services in a way that promotes online conversation.
3. Online reputation management – Keep an eye on what other people and sites are saying about your name, company, or brand online – and fix any problems, if need be.
4. Establish yourself as an expert – Use forums and message boards to answer questions professionally, honestly, and correctly, which will earn you respect as an expert in your niche. People will look to you for answers.
5. Word of mouth – Customers need to trust before purchasing – people trust their friends and loved ones more than anyone else. So, if they hear from someone trustworthy about your product, chances are higher that they’ll buy. Market your products using word of mouth virtually.
6. Build relationships and become more personal – Use a variety of social media, and you’ll build relationships with customers and potential customers. Trust comes through honesty and sincerity.
7. Open up the line of communication between business owner and millions of potential customers – Millions of people who could possibly become customers? You could not have this easily in the offline world.
8. Small businesses can compete with the large companies – In the past, this was very difficult with the advertising and marketing budgets of large companies. With the right type of viral social media, you could get an immense amount of traffic with quickly-growing natural links, and keep traffic coming for a long time.
9. Social networking with potential clients and customers from all over the globe – With social networking sites such as Facebook, StumbleUpon, MySpace and Twitter, among many, many others, you can hold personal conversations with each of your customers. Tell them about new products, sales and coupons, suggestions and tips – the topics are endless.
10. Get great traffic – Not only great traffic…. but freakishly crazy amounts of traffic. For example, if one of your items becomes viral and makes it to the front page of Yahoo Buzz (a social news site), it could get you 100,000 to 1,000,000 viewers; from Digg around 2,000 to 60,000; and from Reddit around 2,500 to 30,000.
11. Increase your link-ability – One way to move up in the search engines is to have links from other sites pointed to your site. Natural links – or links that come naturally to your great post, awesome video, or amazing picture, are the best kind for your business. They’ll not only bring in traffic, but should also help move you up further in the search engines.