It was not all that long ago that an entrepreneur could be just that – an entrepreneur. Focus on the business, learn some marketing tricks, treat customers well, and you were off to the races.

How quaint.

These days, of course, business has changed radically, especially small business. For starters, “just” being an entrepreneur is not enough. You need to also be a techno-geek, an expert in alternative funding, and yes, a social media ninja.

In 2008, when I wrote the second edition of my best-selling book, The Small Business Bible, I mentioned only two social media sites because social media was hardly even a phrase back then: YouTube and – ha! – Myspace. So when my editor asked me if I had anything new to add to the book if we did a third edition in 2012, I jumped at the chance to add new chapters on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and all the rest.

So yes, we all know by now that social media has changed the landscape of business, radically, and arguably for the better. And that then begs the question:

How can you help boost your social media credentials? How can you use this vast new medium effectively, without drowning in a sea of posts and tweets and shares and updates? Here are five ways that may work:

1. Be unique: That there are a lot of voices out there in the social media wilderness vying for people’s attention is without question. How do you stand out from the crowd?

Well, how do you stand out from the crowd in the non-virtual world? You have to have a business and brand that is unique, different and special. What is it that you do that sets you apart from the crowd? Whatever the answer to that question, then that is what you should consider focusing on in your social media posts, too.

Sports talk bigwig Jim Rome is not my favorite, but he has a saying that is apropos: “Have a take, don’t suck.” Please excuse my vernacular, but that gets the point across. That is what you need to do if you are going to get heard above the din.

2. Engage: Posting quality content can be the foundation of your social media empire, but all that does is get you started. Creating a following can be equally important because, frankly, having numbers next to your profile can be impressive.

You start to do that by engaging with people, by joining the ongoing conversation and adding value, by solving problems and making a difference. If you engage with folks, and not just talk at them, you will find that your social media presence can grow significantly.

3. Follow to be followed: Here’s a little trick that can jumpstart your Twitter following: The “Twittiquette” is to follow people who follow you. If you reverse that, then what you find is that if you follow people, many will follow you back. So find people you like, thought leaders and so on, and so on, and follow their followers. Your numbers and cred can grow quickly.

4. Have an impressive platform: In social media especially, people will likely check you out online, and so you have to be ready when they surf on over to your Internet outposts:

  •        Have a robust and updated LinkedIn profile. That is often what people see first when they Google you.
  •        Have your Twitter and Facebook profiles be professional.
  •        Have a great website.

5. Get Verified: My friends here at Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. have a great product called “VERIFIED™.” It allows you to have your company info and social media profiles verified. By doing so, you can help your business standout among the millions of other businesses out there who are seeking to be and look credible.

Photo Credit: wolf4max, Flickr.