I have set up a number of blogs, Facebook pages, YouTube Channels and Twitter sites for a number of clients over the past year. Small business owners are jumping into the new marketing trends and trying to keep up. Spurred on by stories about a video that just went viral or a tweet that all of a sudden got millions of views,  sometimes owners expect their content to do the same.

However, what is lacking at times is the understanding that companies need to focus on building a community, not just putting content out there.

Build a Community – Social Media is Building Relationships

A community requires 2-way conversation and time to build. It is not just a one-way conversation where you are putting out blog posts about your company and sharing company photos and videos on Facebook and YouTube. It is about connecting with others who share your passion and values.

Most companies should focus 20% of their energy on creating the content and 80% of their energy promoting their content by buillding relationships online. Unfortunately, most people have it switched around.

Consistency is Key

In addition, just like real world networking, consistency is key. If you only attend your local Chamber of Commerce functions once a year, then you are most likely not going to connect with many people or develop long-lasting relationships. Same goes with the social media world. Posting articles, photos and videos sporadically does not build a following.

Ask Customers for their Needs…not just promote your products

Many companies are afraid of the negative feedback that these new social media tools provide…however, it should be in reverse. These new tools allow you to engage your audience and find out what they want – and don’t want – and you can tailor your products and services around what your customer’s want.

Remember your Web Site and Blog should be the main “Hub” of your marketing activity

There are new social medial tools launching every day…Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Picassa, etc… – and these provide great channels to promote your videos, photos and articles. However, these channels may come and go and you don’t own these vehicles. You OWN your web site and the way your content displays. What if one of these channels goes away in the future? Do you have the same content stored on your own site so you don’t lose it?

Furthermore, if you want search engines to give you credit for all of this new content, make sure you host the content on your own sites.

Finally, when the content is housed within your own site, you can use it to help drive leads. Ultimately, if you are in business, you are hoping to sell a product or service. This sales pipeline is enhanced by combining your page content with call to actions and other promotional offers that help convert viewers to leads to sales.

Marcy Mitchell is owner of MTECH Internet Marketing in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. She has helped hundreds of small business owners traverse the digital divide by breaking down the new trends of marketing into bit-sized pieces that allow the owner to be empowered. Furthermore, she has developed custom web sites and blogs for 15 years throughout the U.S.