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How to effectively use social media to grow your business

Gina Bianchini is the CEO and co-founder of Mightybell, which continues a tradition of community products that bring together people who should know each other, but dont. Mightybell works with companies and entrepreneurs to bring to mark...

Are you wasting your time with social media?

I have a confession. I don't believe in social media. Specifically, I don't believe social media is either the fastest or easiest way to generate new customers for small business owners and the self-employed.

Stories from the front lines

Nancy Rothstein: Photographer

"At first I used Facebook as a portfolio to showcase my work. I added galleries of my photos and made sure it represented my brand.

Now I focus on building relationships with my existing clients. They are the best source of new clients, especially as I post their photos and celebrate their stories, and they share these out to their networks.

I approach each client to connect on Facebook and LinkedIn with an attitude of 'I am here to promote you’ and use social media to celebrate what each client has accomplished."

Sandra Harris: Founder & President, ECOlunchbox

"Many of us use social media as a way to 'check out' companies and make sure they're 'for real' and 'legit' before proceeding to buy or otherwise engage.

We've cultivated a 10,000-strong fan base on Facebook for ECOlunchbox. While our daily posts on Facebook may only reach a few hundred people (unless it's shared and goes viral), our likes and page 'vouches' for ECOlunchbox.

If someone passing by our Facebook page takes a moment to read comments, they'll see that ECOlunchbox is a 'lovemark' among our eco-friendly community."

Freda Gore: Owner, Caribbean Culinary Tours & Vacations

"I use both Facebook and Twitter as a great way to build relationships with my current customers. This has the secondary result of getting the word out about my business. Because I have a niche service business, I have to keep my name in front of prospects and social media is one way of doing that."

Jackie Reisenauer: Owner, Munster Rose Floral Design

"Most of our incoming prospects first saw us on Instagram. Our secret isn't really a secret at all: We have great photos and consistently post.

I got advice early on to post photos of the kind of work that excites me. At Munster Rose, we only do weddings and large events and often we do designs that aren't my personal style. However, I make a practice of not posting event photos to social media that aren't in line with where I want to take our brand."

Up next: What can you do to make social media work for you?

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