Small businesses rely heavily on word of mouth: friends, family and happy customers telling their friends and family about their business. These days, word-of-mouth, aka referral marketing, is turbo-charged as a result of our enthusiasm for social media.

Small businesses can and should leverage the power of social media. Many, in fact, attempt to. But, to do it effectively requires some planning; and follow-through is key!

Here are some things you can do to build a referral-marketing plan using social media that can build your business:

Be searchable

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t “Google it” when they’re searching for something. Know what search terms you want to be found for when people do a Google search for the products or services you offer. Then, make sure your digital and social profiles include those terms. Start with your website, of course, and then be consistent across your Facebook, Twitter and Google listing

Be findable

This goes along with being searchable. Be even more findable by cross referencing all of your digital assets. For example, are all of your social “badges” displayed on your website (and do they work)? Does the “About Us” section of your Facebook page include a link to your YouTube account?

If you don’t use the typical social channels, at the very least, check the description of your free Google maps listing and edit it to include your key words. Google searches Google first. A completed Google listing is key to being findable.

Be shareable

Your posts on social sites should inspire your followers to share them with their friends. You never see anyone sharing businesses’ ads, for example. But, you will see people sharing businesses’ posts about community events and public interest stories. Think about the kind of posts YOU like to share. Those are the kind of posts your followers probably like to share, too.

Debi Davis is a local digital strategist in Lakewood; Bringing your LOCAL appeal to your ONLINE presence. She is the owner of 3D Communications – http://www.3dDebi.com, 303-903-2163, debi@3dDebi.com