What's the Latest Development?

Big business strategists tell small business how to use social media to its benefit:

1. Apps: Think of an app that sets your company apart from the crowd, like Nike's Training Club which has nothing to do with shoes but offers users custom-built workouts with training advice. 

2. Crowdsourcing: Small businesses can recruit their most enthusiastic fans to submit videos for a potential commercial or testimonials for their website.

3. Solicit suggestions: You don’t always have to have all the answers. Social media presents a unique opportunity to engage in a productive two-way discussion with your customers. 

4. Social media promotions: By sending out a tweet for action, businesses can connect with their customers in a fun way, while rewarding their most loyal and enthusiastic customers with lucrative prizes.

5. Hire using social media: Drawing candidates from afar and using the transparency inherent in social media can make the hiring process more effective and draw more talent. 

What's the Big Idea?

While big businesses have entire departments dedicated to improving the use of social media, small companies typically concentrate on more rudimentary tasks. But by taking lessons from large corporations, small business can benefit from social media, too. Finding interesting ways to engage your audience will create dividends, whether that means soliciting video from your followers, making social media-exclusive promotions, or doing some creative hiring on the web. One Australian travel agency, for example, recruited new candidates by asking for a 140 character cover letter on why the candidate was a good fit for the company.