Have a look around any online social networking site and you will see a plethora of business pages engaging users with offers and news about its products. If you take a short tour of Facebook's business pages you'll see that every major company, and just about most of the smaller businesses, will have a Facebook page. Whether it is Coca Cola, Chrysler, Sony, Guinness or Glaxo Smith-Kline, the biggest and the best all have a representation in Facebook.
The pages have several likes (or fans) and all content is regularly updated with photos, videos, competitions and polls for the fans to engage in and even product launch announcements. The beauty of this free advertising for companies is that it's all free and it generates accumulative exposure via the social networking sites.
Pinterest works in a similar way - as does micro-blogging site Twitter; when a company representative posts material on a social networking site like Facebook, it hopefully will generate interest from the many fans that have subscribed to your company pages.
What is vital is that a company needs to post images, videos and all sorts of quality content in order to get fans to "like" or share the content. Once a person clicks "Like" the same content will then appear on their wall. This of course means more exposure of your company's content because if that person has 400 friends, then each one would have an opportunity to see it when browsing on their own Facebook news feed page.
Pinterest has backlinks embedded in pictures which link back to your company website. This rapidly-growing social networking site is a big hit with women, with as many as 81 percent of its registered users are female, and if you have a company selling shoes, clothing, chocolate or jewelry you should be strongly motivated to use Pinterest as a source for social media.
Twitter is a very good tool to promote business snippets of information. For example if you are a proprietor at a wine bar and you are tweeting about the special offer you have on tonight selling two cocktails for the price of one, there's a good chance one of your many followers will re-tweet the message for you, which will in turn promote your offer to an even wider audience.
Let's not forget about other, slightly less know but also very important platforms like Reddit, Delicious, Digg, Stumbleupon and a few others. More on these platforms later.
Remember, that almost all social media platforms and exposure are free and any business should have a social media page which is updated regularly.