How would you like to get better rankings in the search engines? How about establishing yourself as an authority in your area of expertise? Want to improve relationships with your customers? Or how about finding new ideas for improving your business and making it grow?

Welcome, then, to the world of social media. You can use the social media sites to do all these things.

Through adroit use of social media, you can build a network of customers, loyal to you, who will do much of your advertising for you. All you have to do is get them to rave about your service or product to their family members and friends. It’s like word of mouth advertising taken to an exponential level.

Better yet, some of these ultra-loyal customers may put links to your site on their own sites. This can result in a huge boost in rankings from the search engines.

Here are some of the top sites you need to know about.

Facebook, the most well known, is the planet’s largest site for social networking. In addition to your profile, you can post videos, blogs, pictures and site links. You can also create a Fan Page and encourage customers to joint it. This is a convenient vehicle for alerting your customers about business updates and news.

On Twitter, members post short text messages of 140 characters or less. Customers can subscribe to your feed and be updated whenever you send a new tweet. This is another excellent way to communicate with your customers and keep them up to date about your business.

YouTube is the Internet’s top site for sharing videos. You don’t have to be James Cameron when you post videos that can help establish you as an expert in your field.

LinkedIn is a huge business-oriented networking site with hundreds of thousands of members worldwide. It is a good place to look for business partners and potential customers.

When you participate in these and other social networking sites, you open the door to meeting future customers and to learning more about what products and services they are interested in. And your fellow members on these sites will help get the word out about your business – all over the web.

There’s one really important rule: don’t post sales pitches. Instead, post targeted high quality content about your business – no bulk content or obvious sales presentations. Don’t forget that people participate in social media websites for the purpose of socialization. And that’s what they expect from you.

Be interesting, friendly and authentic. Engage others in the things that are important to them.

If you use these sites as they are intended and post content that the other members will appreciate, you can exponentially increase your Internet marketing clout and build battalions of Internet supporters who can help you grow your business. And all it will cost you is a little time.

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