Big brands leverage social media to effectively reach their target audience, and if you’re an SMB you can grow your exposure, engagement, and revenue too by trying a few tips that brands use every day on social networks.

Get the Tools That Make You Look Big

Let’s face it: big brands have more money and manpower to spend on blogs that ring with multiple voices, designer Facebook pages and tweets that tantalize. Once you’ve committed to producing and curating awesome content, you can extend your value to your audience with the right tools. If you’re like me, you’ll try several tools before settling on a few that make your life easier. You don’t need to break the bank to produce results: These two tools will give you a head start, but there are lots more you can try:

Easy Custom Facebook Tabs

ThruSocial’s interface is the best one I’ve used so far. I love the fast drag and drop and how quickly the edits appear after I apply them. I just started using this tool a few days ago, and I keep finding new features. One thing that’s really great is for only $29 per month you can install polls, Google Maps and lots of other widgets that are easy to maneuver on the page.

Nicely Ordered, Scheduled Tweets

(Not all my tweets are scheduled, but it’s good to schedule some to keep the account topical and to spread the tweets out throughout the day.) I use Sprout Social. It’s very cost-effective (the $59 per month tier that we use allows for management of up to 20 profiles), includes impressive reporting (charts and graphs and Excel and PDF export) and organizes all of our Twitter accounts. Their email and Twitter support is stellar — I’ve used both, and they were responsive and provided the exact answers I was looking for.

The tools mentioned above are only a start. Awesome as they are, I invite other companies with competing tools to get in touch (or leave us a blog comment) and let us know about you. We’d be glad to try your tools out and see how they rank for SMB-friendliness.

Now for the personal connection part:

Human Beings are on the Other End of Your Messages

You always hear that you should connect to your customer on a personal level. But how do you do that? Try story-telling and sharing videos of people using your product.  Talk about some of your company’s community involvement. Discuss your mission and why you started marketing your product. Humanize your company; have several of your staff tweeting and posting to Facebook so your customers can see who you really are.

Ask for Feedback and Respond to it All, Positive & Negative

Make sure to give your customers a reason to respond to your questions, posts, tweets, discussions, by becoming part of the conversation. Respond to all feedback, positive and negative. Positive commentary is something we all love responding to. Negative…not so much. Set up a company social media policy so your staff will know in advance how to handle tricky situations should they arise.

Ask  questions, provide polls and seek out feedback from your customers. Here’s an example: I recently asked people on a tea drinkers forum what it was they wanted from a tea company (my customer). Was it coupons, free samples, brewing advice…I asked them to name what it was that they valued. They responded that they wanted discounts on the products as incentives to try them. That was valuable information I passed on to my customer.

It’s so important to keep your social accounts fresh and interesting. SMBs need all the help they can get to squeeze the most out of every hour they spend on social.  If you want still more ideas, I recommend checking out Duct Tape Marketing.

Where would SMB’s be without Duct Tape Marketing? Here’s some of their latest social media tips; in a guest post from Frank Strong of Vocus:

5 Social Media Lessons Gleaned from a New SMB Study – Top Tip from this article: Watch for niche or new social networks that might offer your business a way to engage with a community that’s a perfect ‘fit’.