If you haven't already, it's time to jump on the social media bandwagon and tap into the vast potential it can unlock for your small business. With so many social media platforms to choose from it might seem somewhat overwhelming. This post from Small Business Trends demystifies the seemingly complex social media world, and shows you the most effective ways to start connecting with customers and potential customers, building brand awareness and spreading news quickly.

Here are their 3 top tips:

  1. Start with Facebook: Facebook is very effective for generating business Ñ according to Social Media Quickstarter, 51% of people who ÒlikeÓ brands are more likely to buy a product after becoming a fan. Small business owners should spend the majority their social media budget designing and running their Facebook fan page. Make it visually dynamic with quality graphics and photos, which humanize your brand image by spotlighting the people in your business and give customers a glimpse into your business's inner-workings.

  2. Limit your focus: Beyond Facebook, be smart about which social media sites you choose to invest in. If you try to maintain a presence on too many sites, you may find yourself overwhelmed and unable to keep up. Outdated and abandoned social media accounts can hurt your brand image. When you fail to respond to customers' comments and inquiries on these sites, they will think that you don't care about their input. To effectively narrow your social media focus, determine which social networks your customers frequent. You can determine which platforms your customers prefer by sending a quick survey.

  3. Post Effectively: It is recommended that businesses post one to four times a day on Facebook and five to ten times a day on Twitter. These posts should occur during business hours (8 AM to 8 PM) as this is when most people visit social media sites. It may be difficult for small business owners to post this frequently, but fortunately, Facebook allows you to schedule posts to be published at a later date.

Click here to read the full post from one of our favorite small business blogs, Small Business Trends , which we proudly share with our small business merchants to provide as much insight and advice as possible to help their small businesses thrive.