Marketing can make or break a business. In today’s world of social networking, businesses can easily take advantage of interacting with current and future clients through the use of social media. With Twitter now having over two hundred million users (and growing each day), businesses can communicate and promote in 140 characters or less. Your business has the opportunity to offer exclusive deals to your Twitter followers, while driving traffic to your website and getting to interact with your clients. Here are 5 ways to effectively market via Twitter.

[photo by healinglight]

It is estimated that 23% of Americans who make a New Years resolution actually keep it for the entire year. Reasons for losing sight of resolutions include aspiring for too much, setting too many goals, attempting to do it all right away or simply losing persistence and giving up.

This year, make some reasonable resolutions for your social media marketing strategy. Below are the top 5 resolutions people in the U.S. make at the beginning of the new year and how they relate to your social media marketing. Whether these are drastic changes you’ll need to make or just friendly reminders, resolve to keep them in 2012!

1. Get In Shape

To continue to have fans and followers, you’re going to have to stay ahead of the crowd. You might need to get your profile or page in shape to compete. Don’t simply rely on the tactics that made you popular for the past few years. It’s an ever-changing playing field and your competitors can catch up quickly with one innovative idea.

Is your page falling behind? Are you losing fans because you can’t keep up? If you have fans and followers now, you need to ensure they’ll continue to follow you. It is all about engagement. Ask questions, reply to questions and take a discerning look at your posting schedule and quality of posts. For larger social communities, it can be a challenge to keep up. Resolve to try your best and remain the leader of your page or profile!

2. Eat Better

Remember this in 2012: your followers are “picky eaters”. Although the expanse of online information is readily available, consumers are still “watching what they eat” when it comes to buying decisions and are relying on peer validation. Peer validation is simple: if my friend likes it, there is a good chance I will. If the gadget did not malfunction for my friend, it probably won’t malfunction for me. Peer validation comes in the form of social shares, comments, reviews and even face to face conversations.

Facebook, Twitter and Google+ have all incorporated the use use of peer validation for users to suggest fan pages, news articles, products and even to encourage them to connect to other users they may know. Spotify is a terrific example of a successful peer validation initiative. Out of the hundreds of music discovery and library managers available on and offline, Spotify began a significant movement through social proof and sharing in 2011. How can you apply this strategy to your social media campaigns?

In order to reach “picky eaters” you must build — and continue to build — an open social space where fans and followers are encouraged to share your content in a positive light…without you requesting they do. It’s not easy to accomplish, but it can be done. A simple reminder that your products are eco-friendly, on sale or helpful for “x, y, and z” can encourage your followers to share the information with their friends. Simple tips relating to your products work well too. Constantly be thinking, “How can I help my followers do _____ today?”

3. Spend Less, Save More

This is a very popular resolution. We all want to spend less and save more, no matter how much we have! This year, strive to take a long look at your Facebook advertising campaigns on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Is the CPC acceptable to you? Why not create a goal (or resolution in this case) to keep the CPC lower, decrease your budget and increase your connection rate? Make the ads you create work harder for you! Make your ads so compelling, people will click the like button right away without investigating further. How? Firstly, target, target, target. The Precise Interests” section is key — utilize it to the fullest! Invest some of your time into researching what your target audience is interested in on Facebook.

With precise targeting may also come ad fatigue. There is a finite amount of people you can reach with Facebook ads. Keep an eye on your reach and the number of times your ads are being shown to individuals to ward off ad fatigue. Change up your ad creative or your targeted interests.

If you end up spending a large percentage of your budget on clicks, regard those fans as valuable assets — retain them by extending a warm welcome and continuing to engage them in creative ways.

4. Quit the Bad Habit

We’ve all done it. We’ve started a social profile and, as a brand representative, become complete robots. Do you think your customers want to read a constant stream of pro-brand this and pro-brand that? Well, they don’t.

A pair of studies from the Chief Marketing Officer Council and social technology firm Lithium show a large discrepancy between what customers want from interactions on social media platforms and what marketers believe they want. 72% of people use social media to stay engaged with brands — is your brand interested in the same?

Marketers have a tendency to stand up on a platform and simply announce product launches, specials and news. Too often we list the benefits of our products over and over again. The better strategy is to get down off the pedestal and mingle with the crowd.

If you are not experiencing any engagement, it may be time to change your tone of voice. People who use social media want to feel they are talking to a “real person.” After all, they have come to a place where they can talk to the person behind your brand. Speak to them as a person — let loose a little, be natural and get them talking!

5. Volunteer

There are a multitude of celebrities, companies and groups who have found social media gold by coordinating with non-profit organizations, aiming to give back to their communities while also growing and improving their own social communities. Could your brand support a cause that aligns with your company values? 2012 is the time to raise awareness – for you and a non-profit! Let your followers see your company’s interest in playing an active role in their community.

Instead of giving your marketing spend to advertising again this month, why not pledge a donation amount and encourage people to follow you in return for hitting a goal? It’s an admirable way to start the new year off and a great accomplishment!

Trying to keep your resolutions? Don’t do all of it at once. Ease yourself into a different perspective toward your social media marketing by focusing on one of these five goals per month. Share your goals with your marketing team to keep each other accountable. Most importantly, congratulate yourself when you’ve achieved these goals or any major success on your social media platforms!