Social media sites offer a way for people to communicate online and interact with their favorite businesses. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are among the most popular and most visited on the Web, and many of their users check theirs every day. Here are ten ways you can use social media to better connect with your fans and boost your business.

1. Improve Your Customer Service

These sites give your customers direct access to you. This gives you a chance to listen to what they have to say and learn how they feel about your business. By being responsive and offering them access, social media works wonders for your customer service.

2. Manage Customer Complaints

Social media sites let your customers leave comments on how you’re doing. When they complain or criticize your business practices, you not only get valuable feedback, but also a chance to reply and repair your image.

3. Share Real-Life Customer Stories

Social proof is powerful in establishing your company’s credibility, and social media gives you lots of opportunities to get real testimonials. Positive reviews from your customers can be seen instantly by anyone who accesses your profile or theirs.

4. Get Your Employees Involved

You can use your social media sites for idea development. Give your employees a platform where they can share their ideas. You can also use it to keep in touch, offering newsletters, updates and employee incentive programs.

5. Boost Customer Loyalty

You can use your profile to run your customer loyalty programs by offering incentives and rewards. Everything can be done through the site so you don’t need to deal with any more punch cards.

6. Attract New Business

Your social media presence gives you free advertising on the world’s biggest message board. People can find your profile through Web searches and their friends’ profiles. This is a great way to attract new customers.

7. Get to Know Your Market

Social media makes it extremely easy to get to know your target market. You can find out exactly who enjoys your products and services, as well as find out what else they like. Companies have spent millions in marketing research to gather this information and all you need to do is invest a little time.

8. Create a Brand Message

Every company has a brand message, like Nike’s ‘Just Do It’. You can use your social media site to communicate this message to your fans and prospective customers.

9. Connect Everything

By integrating your social media sites with your blog or website, you can generate more traffic and leads. Widgets and apps allow you to link everything together for maximum exposure.

10. Use Multimedia

Most social media sites have multimedia applications. You can make a welcome video showing what your company is all about or offer a streaming podcast to your customers. These help by branding your company and giving it a more personal touch.

The most important thing to remember about social media is that people don’t use these sites to shop. They use them to socialize, share common interests, and generally hang out. Make your page an interactive place where they can get involved and spend time. This keeps your brand in their mind and whenever they’re ready to buy, they’ll come to you.