Here are some guidelines about how to use social media marketing to your advantage:

Be attractive and welcoming. Imagine your social networks as the living room of your home. You want your followers to be your guests. You want them to feel comfortable with the conversation. You want to be interesting, fresh and relevant to stay engaged with them. Act the same way in the online community environment as you do in real likfe, and your authenticity will shine through and win out.

Be friendly and chatty. You can’t bore people into buying or into relationships. Usually the noisy, conversational and opinionated participants in social communities create more followers and more relationships. Quiet is less noticeable; bold and outgoing get attention. So ask questions, conduct polls, inform, entertain and inspire your followers, and talk about trending topics. That’s how to stick out in your communities without worrying about the millions outside of your circles.

Be interesting. Being conversational and chatty isn’t always enough. Make sure your discussions are interesting, but be true to your mission and brand and stay real in your conversation. Show others you care about them. Be thought-provoking. Create a “wow factor” with fresh and relevant content.

Standing out in social media communities simply boils down to being social. It’s not a “build it and they will come” strategy. You can’t throw up a Facebook page, open a Twitter account and simply post sales-y content. Social implies two-way conversations, not one-way promotional messages. It’s up to you to offer something interesting and relevant that others want to hear. Do that and you will get noticed, remembered, and talked about. Social media is all about the development of relationships; people do business with people they know, like and trust.

People inherently want to share and discuss information about their lives, friends, news, ideas and so on. Doing this with the help of technology and a multimedia mix of words, pictures, video, and audio is what social media marketing is all about. To be successful in any community–whether social media or traditional–you must understand what captures your community members’ attention, what keeps them engaged and what makes them want to share. If you want to get noticed, pay attention to what captures the imagination, hearts, souls and minds of your friends, connections, and followers.