The use of social media Web sites by consumers continues to grow. But Entrepreneur magazine reports that many small business and franchise owners are using the popular Internet sites to help grow their companies by posting industry news and promoting special deals.

Many of the biggest franchises in the country have already seen strong returns from integrating social media into their marketing strategies. For example, Hampton Hotels uses a Twitter feed to give out promotions to customers, posts links to articles about staying healthy while traveling and holds contests offering participants a free stay.

Franchise consultants told the magazine than an entrepreneur in a franchise opportunity is in a unique situation in terms of how he or she can utilize social media, because they still have to answer to the company as a whole. It's important for them to keep in mind that the messages they send need to mesh with the franchise's overall image and marketing messages. Many companies, the magazine reports, have even developed a social networking policy for franchise owners to follow.

Small businesses are increasingly using the sites as part of their marketing strategy. A recent survey by AWeber Communications found that 68 percent of small business marketers were using social media, and that many of them had seen an increase in customer loyalty as a result.




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