01/17/2013 05:21 pm ET Updated Mar 19, 2013

6 Surprising Social Media Tactics to Help You Get Noticed Now

For Women & Co. by Suzanne Rust,

Are you using social media effectively to market yourself or your business? Based on findings from the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 74 percent of businesses reported an increase of traffic with just a mere six hours a week invested in social media. That's pretty potent stuff.

Catherine Ventura, social media content strategist for Venn Diagram, knows how to harness that power. "While big companies spend tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars on social media campaigns to drive people to their websites or Facebook pages," said Ventura, "with some creative thinking, you can find fun ways to find and reach out to potential customers that won't break the bank."

If you don't know where to begin or need some new tricks, here are a few tactics offered by Ventura that could work. Even if you don't run a business, consider the same strategies for your own personal social media "brand."

1. Be hospitable.
Create Facebook "events" that invite friends and fans to see exciting content on your other social media sites. If you have a bakery, for instance, who could resist an invitation (and a link) saying 'You are cordially invited to join us on Pinterest to see our fresh-baked Gingerbread Men, Gagnam-style!' If you have a travel business, try: 'Leaving for a island getaway today. Please join me on Instagram for pictures of hot pink flowers, stunning pink and turquoise beaches, and crazy cocktails!'

2. Be generous.
"Choose a charity to support, then post about its fundraising efforts and re-tweet, re-post, and re-pin its posts for a week (all the better if it's relevant to your offering!). If you're local, donate your product or services to a school or charity's silent auction, then feature posts and tweets about the auction (and ask friends and the school or charity to share and re-tweet!). It's a great way to get in front of new potential customers or clients, as well as generate good will."

3. Be patriotic.
"Be a good citizen and support your city or town by following the town, its leaders, its museums and cultural groups, its local news media, and other local businesses on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Comment on their Facebook pages (supporting them, not talking about yourself!) and re-post and re-tweet great pictures and great tips from their sites. You position yourself as a great member of the community and get your business' name in front of their Facebook followers."

4. Be inclusive.
"Create a fun hashtag (the symbol #, used to mark keywords or topics in social media) and ask fans and followers to use it when they post to Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Then, feature the best of those photos on your Facebook page or a dedicated Pinterest board. If you represent a bowling alley in Athens, Georgia, for instance, it could be #AthensBowls, if you represent a balloon supplier it could be #BalloonFun--anything as long as it's fun and relevant to your offering!"

5. Be targeted.
Ventura reminds us that Facebook ads provide an inexpensive and highly effective way to drill right down to the audience you want to attract. "Create a 'Like Us' ad and target fans of brands with a similar constituency. For example, if you are an organic juice company, target fans of other organic products; if you are a sock company company, target fans of a shoe company your customers like, too. (Don't know what shoe company they like? Ask them!)"

6. Be creative.
"If fans or followers ask questions or make comments on Facebook or Twitter, respond with a short and personable YouTube video response. They'll love the personal attention (and re-tweet and share it!)." Sometimes a video is worth a thousand words...

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