FInding alternate ways to promote a small business is essential for maintaining a viable financial plan even before regular outlets for advertising have been exhausted. Online tools like social media and internet advertising are becoming more popular than traditional advertising methods, anyway, as they're cheaper to obtain, maintain and distribute.

A single online advertising campaign has the potential to be viewed by customers around the world, making these tools far more valuable to even the smalestl businesses looking to enhance their scope and reach. Social media outlets like Facebook are already immensely popular, with some sources reporting that two-thirds of companies have pages and profiles for their establishments to help them connect with the public while a advertising goods and services.

New media is the way to go

One of the leading new networks is called Pinterest, an image board launched in 2010 that allows users to put up images of things they like or have created, and other users can comment or re-share them within their own group of friends and followers. This is immediate free advertising for businesses that properly move in on social media.

The Huffington Post spoke with one of the most popular users on the site, Jennifer Chong, whose viewership rivals the population of San Francisco in size, according to the publication. As a graphic designer, she uses the site to promote her art and hobbies, gaining popularity as she creates things users like and share. This momentum has brought some measure of success, she said, but it's important to keep track of what people want so your feed continues to draw their attention.

The hit parade

In the hierarchy of social media sites, however, most companies are familiar with Facebook and Twitter but may not know about other available networks. One growing trend in financial investment advice is a movement toward social media, which has reflected in the use of these sources.

Media Bistro reported Shareholic's data on sites and referrals for the beginning of 2012, showing that while Facebook is head and shoulders above the competition, Pinterest has officially taken second place, just barely squeaking past Bing. What's remarkable here is the huge leap the site made in a single month, moving from the bottom of the barrel to a major competitor. Chong noted in the Huffington Post interview that many more businesses are now involved in pinning and posting, with corporate profiles becoming as commonplace as personal ones.