No matter what sort of business you run, whether small or large, product or service based – if you aren’t using social media as part of your marketing campaign, you could be missing a trick.

Many businesses are now switched on to the fact that social media is a great way to engage with and retain customers – but you may not be aware that it can also be a fantastic tool for attracting leads.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn offer a cost-effective way to market your products and services – apart from the actual time involved (which, once you are up and running and have pages, groups and profiles set up, can be as little as just fifteen minutes a day), there are very few other costs involved.

Compared to traditional offline marketing such as leaflets, brochures, mailshots and posters, the cost-savings can be huge – as well as very trackable.

So, how do you start attracting leads?

First, think about where your clients hangout online. Is there a particular group they belong to, for example? So, for a business selling pet products, you may want to check out the relevant online groups for pet lovers.

Once you’ve done your research and found relevant groups, join them and start interacting. Keep your interactions professional, friendly and helpful, so that other group members start to get to know you and what your business is about.

Do not post personal messages or thoughts – you are the ‘face’ of the company, and no matter how funny you find a YouTube clip, for example, about a man falling off a skateboard, don’t share it (unless your business is selling skateboards!) So, bear this in mind.

You can also build your own groups and pages to attract engagement, too. Offer discounts and special deals to those who sign up and don’t forget to provide positive feedback on group members’ comments. Customers and potential customers love a bit of positive, and public, feedback. They are also more likely to share or retweet your message, reaching an even bigger audience.

This will all help build your brand as well as portray you, as the ‘face’ of the company, as someone personable, trustworthy and appreciative of the business. This will help generate more leads, as well as retain existing customers.