Today’s guest post courtesy of Janis La Couvée, financial services professional and outspoken social media advocate.

The ad in my local community newsletter, published by the neighborhood association, says “Establish Yourself as a Community Supporter – advertise in the ….. Community News!”

Now if you are a business that caters to a local target market, it is extremely valuable to establish yourself as a community supporter. This strategy will help you to raise your profile in the local community and build trust and goodwill for your business.

Here are some ideas that will help you use social media to become an effective community supporter.

Clearly Establish your Mission Statement on Social Media

As a business do you have clearly defined vision and mission statements with stated values?

Social media can be time consuming. The temptation, particularly for people who are “social butterflies”, is to engage with everyone, all the time. This is clearly not possible when you have a business to run.

Vision, mission and value statements allow you to screen and filter your interactions to some extent. For instance, if kindness is an over-arching value, you are less likely to become embroiled in contentious issues and discussions, avoiding a possible public relations nightmare. Remember, a Twitter feed is public, screen capture is possible, and deleted tweets live on – somewhere.

Once your filter/screen is in place, you will find yourself attracting or soliciting like-minded businesses, not-for-profits and charitable organizations. You will know whether to engage with or block a particular organization or individual, based on your values.

Partner With Those Who Already Have a Social Media Presence

Look for opportunities to partner with organizations and individuals who have a clearly thought out strategy in regards to social media. Will they be including your business name and logo on their website, Facebook page, event listing, and in their tweets?

Are their Twitter messages and supporting communications concise enough for you to re-broadcast easily and effectively? Do they have their own social media presence, or will you need to do more work to spread their message?

Look for ways to promote others

    • Suggest local tweeters and other local businesses for a #FollowFriday.

Many organizations are just getting started on Twitter and don’t have a following yet. This is particularly true of events, which often need to build Twitter followers quickly. Lend your support and influence in your local community wherever you can.

    • If you blog, ask for permission to write a post about a local person or business.

Reach out to interesting or influential people in your community and tell their story. Once the article is written, promote the post via your social media outposts and encourage the subject of the article to do the same.

    • Post a logo for a local non profit or event on your website

Non profits and events usually have a limited budget for advertising, so they’ll appreciate the free exposure on your website. Of course, be sure to check with the organization before hand to get their permission.

    • Connect people

Use your profile in the community to introduce and connect like minded individuals or business. Introduce people publicly on Twitter and Facebook so that people come to know you as a social media connector.

Social Media allows you, as a business person, to be seen as a supporter of community, who is engaged with people, causes and events that matter to you. Your generosity will shines through each tweet and re-tweet, conveying clearly for all to see – “This is what I stand for”!

With careful thought, consideration and planning, your message will resonate with others, building your reputation, influence – and your business – in the process.

Let is know what you think. Tweet us at @Sprout_Insights, @lacouvee or leave a comment below.