I read the following post by Shawn Hessinger and think it’s one of the best (and most enjoyable) descriptions of social media that I’ve read. I contacted him and he graciously gave me permission to repost it. Enjoy!

Social Media for Your Small Business is a Piece of Cake

Small businesses may know that social media plays an important part in their marketing and branding efforts. Still, many remain confused despite the best efforts of gurus and social media strategists about how to go about using these tools most effectively.

But using social media like BizSugar and other online platforms to build brand, market products or services, promote expertise and network with customers and partners isn’t as hard as you might think.

In fact, it’s a piece of cake…literally! Here are the basic ingredients:

Flour

Consistency is the flour of social media. Just as flour holds your cake together so consistency in your social media campaign will help your efforts take form. As anyone who has ever baked a cake knows, it is the flour that makes the cake hold its shape and not crumble or collapse into a pile of crumbs. Without consistent posting, commenting and voting, your social media campaign will also collapse. A few votes, comments, submissions, tweets, or “Likes” whenever you can fit them in simply won’t do. Be consistent in your social media use, and you will see your community take shape.

Milk

Content is the milk of social media. It adds the smoothness, added texture and soothing creaminess to your recipe. Choosing quality helpful content to share, whether your own or other content in your area of expertise, establishes you as an authority and keeps members or your community coming back again and again for the nurturing content you provide. Use only the best content specially chosen for your community and you will create an irresistible texture to your social media campaign that people will remember.

Eggs

Connections are the eggs, the binding force of your social media mixture. Whether votes, comments, networking or any other interaction with members of your community or network, connections provide the cohesiveness and added quality that makes a community and community. Making connections in social media is a small but incredibly important part of the recipe because it is the difference between creating a homogeneous whole of like-minded people talking to and sharing with each other and simply having a series or ingredients or a series of voices speaking individually and alone.

Icing

Special features are the icing on the cake. They contain the accents of sweetness, spice etc. that make the cake’s flavor and consistency stand out. These are not simply brief posts, links to related Websites etc. They may be interviews, special videos, sticky posts your team has created chock full of original content and valuable insight, podcasts, original infographics or even full coverage of a conference you attended. As with icing on a cake, a little goes a long way. You can’t create this kind of content daily and shouldn’t even try. Just spread a bit of it evenly on top and create a special treat to highlight the overall flavor and texture of your social media campaign and to make you regular visitors smile.

As you can see, a social media campaign, properly executed, can be so much more than a simple advertisement for your brand. It can be a sweet and delicious treat doled out to a hungry community who will happily return again and again to learn more about your brand, products and services.