How social media can help your small business

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PHOENIX -- Social media doesn't just connect people with other people. It also connects people with small businesses, perhaps your business.

"If you're not on Twitter, your company is missing a very large marketplace," explained Chad Chiniquy of Search Control. "Whatever the business is, if you're tweeting, if you're actively social online, you're going to have a much better opportunity to reach clients."

In addition to having your primary website, Chiniquy says your company needs to be on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

"That's how people are making buying decisions now," Chiniquy said. "They're going on social media sites and they're looking for the types of businesses they want to shop with."

With a billion tweets going out every 72 hours, Chiniquy says Twitter is essential to your social-media strategy.

"It's critically important that you're on Twitter," he said.

Chiniquy said he also suggests posting videos on YouTube.

"There are about 4 billion video watched every day on YouTube," he said.

While you can hire a social-media specialist, you also can build a strong Web presence for yourself for free.

"It seems like a lot of people think that social media is for a younger generation," Chiniquy said. "Unfortunately, buying decisions are made now on social media. That's what happens."

Building a strong Web reputation and being active on social media requires a pretty significant investment of time, especially when you're starting out, but Chiniquy insists that it's worth it.

"Spend 20, 30 minutes a day, go social, get online, promote your business," he said.