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Published December 29, 2012, 05:02 PM

Social media allows businesses to interact with customers for free

Grand Forks, ND (WDAY TV) -- There are now more than one billion social media users worldwide, but it's not just for keeping in touch with loved ones.

By: Kayla Strayer, WDAZ, WDAY

Grand Forks, ND (WDAY TV) -- There are now more than one billion social media users worldwide, but it's not just for keeping in touch with loved ones.

One natural food store in Grand Forks uses it daily to interact with customers all for free.

Tyler Clauson, Amazing Grains Manager: "I really think that social media is an advertising means for the future."

With thousands of likes on their Facebook page...

Tyler: "To keep that many people informed is awesome."

The manager of Amazing Grains says it's a vital part of their business.

Tyler: "We use social media here in a number of ways."

Like posting daily menu items...

Graeme Stewart, Customer: "They all look super tasty."

...and giving updates on events happening in store. Also, posting food pictures doesn't hurt.

Tyler: "It's definitely increased our business during the lunch hour."

But it's not just about the food.

Tyler: "We get conversations going on our Facebook page."

That kind of personal interaction with customers can pay off.

Tyler: "Ya we've seen such a good response by social media that we've actually put some of our advertising dollars into Facebook and Google ads and things like that."

Doing this can give small shops a big advantage.

Graeme: "Social media can really give the smaller businesses a leg up on those chain stores."

Both men encourage other businesses to jump on the social media bandwagon.

Tyler: it's a good way to cut down on some of your advertising budget.

Graeme: "To be involved directly in the community, social media makes a big difference."

A recent Manta.com survey shows nine out of ten small businesses now dedicate time to online networking. The U.S. Small Business Administration even offers workshops on how to be more social media savvy.

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