You’ve probably heard dozens of times that you need to use social media in your marketing efforts. But how should you use it? I already talked about how to engage your audience online, so now I’ll share five specific things you can do to improve your business through social media. 1. Get to know your customers better. Social media allows you to connect with your customers in a totally new way. You can hold open dialogues with them to keep them informed, clear up confusion and build lasting relationships. You can learn more about who your customers are and what they really need. 2. Generate buzz. As you engage some of your customers online, look for ones who have many followers and are thought leaders who are passionate about your industry. Talk to them about industry trends, your products or services, their experiences with your company and other topics. By focusing on these people, you can encourage potential customers to join the discussion and get excited when you have important news to share. 3. Improve inventory management. If some of your customers start talking about a specific product they’re excited to buy, that could give you a heads-up to plan for sudden changes in demand. However, you should be careful not to act too rashly, as Luciano Cunha, a guest blogger on Warehouse Management Systems Guide, suggests in his article, “What Does Social Media Mean to Your Supply Chain?” Cunha notes that just because people are excited about a product doesn’t mean they’ll buy it right now. They might wait a few months or they might not have any intention of buying it. Wait until you’ve collected enough data to spot purchasing trends before you start making big inventory management decisions based on social media. 4. Update products and services. A blessing and a curse of social media is you get to hear what people really think of you and your products. If you can develop a thick skin and accept constructive criticism, you can actually benefit greatly. As you learn what your customers like and don’t like about your products, you can fine tune them to boost sales. Like changes to inventory management, before you consider changing your products, make sure your customers really do want those changes. 5. Offer rewards. Reward your followers with special offers to encourage them to continue following you and remain loyal to your brand. Spotlight and reward your customers who say good things about you and give helpful feedback on your products. When you make an improvement to one of your products based on their feedback, let them know about it and give them a free copy, or at least a discount. Social media is a powerful tool you can harness for your business. Use these five strategies to learn about your customers, promote your products, improve your inventory management, build better products and reward loyal customers. You’ll be amazed at how effective social media can be for your business!