Tapping into social media to raise brand awareness and convert an audience into engaged customers is the new normal in marketing. In fact, it's not even new, it's just "the normal." But your conversation shouldn't stop with Twitter or your email opt-in list. Instead, couple your social media efforts with opportunities that open doors to highly targeted press, new customers, and face time with industry leaders to take your marketing game to a new level. Here are five ways to get started.

1. Find a Reporter

Not getting any real traction from tweeting, blogging and social media ads? Quit waving your arms around for attention on social media and go straight to the people who want to connect with you. Contacting journalists, reporters, and writers can earn coverage on outlets ranging from CNN to Cosmopolitan. It's not hard to find writers searching for a quote from an expert, blogger, or business owner. Simply sign up at Help a Reporter Out (HARO), and select the categories you're interested in hearing about, from travel to small business.

HARO will send information right to your inbox from journalists looking for quotes and article contributions. And it works. HARO sources have appeared everywhere from Better Homes and Gardens to BankRate.com to Family Circle. There's no limit to the markets you can tap into without ever leaving your inbox to go hunting for them.

2. Join a Podcast

Cast a wider net in your customer acquisition search by joining a popular podcast, or launching your own. According to Edison Research, an estimated 46 million Americans age 12 and over listened to podcasts in February 2015. Worried you can't find a relevant audience? Apple announced that iTunes eclipsed one billion podcasts and counting back in 2013. Odds are less than zero that you can't find a podcast relating to your industry. There are even podcasts about manufacturing and fabricating.

Remember, traditional radio is also still a viable asset. Most shows are now broadcast online, or at least heavily promoted through social media channels and websites. Simply tuning into a show relevant to your business and taking every opportunity to call in when they open up the line for questions is a simple and effective approach to getting heard.

But make it count. Offer detailed advice and information that best serves the audience. When Sasha Martin from Global Table Adventure called into Rick Steves' hugely popular travel show, her site went went from quietly gathering small press to landing paid opportunities and a book deal.

3. Teach a Class

Find a new audience this week by launching an online class, teaching a workshop in your area, or speaking at a networking event. A platform like Skillshare can put you in front of an audience looking for valuable material and insights from experts. Instructors report not only earning passive income from selling their courses, but developing a following, building a name for themselves in their industry, and finding new clients.

Give away some of your very best business secrets and tips for a nominal fee, or for free, and leave something on the table for students who want to follow up and join your email list. Take your teaching skills offline and seek out highly trafficked networking events. You'll get unprecedented access to decision makers, executives, and industry leaders.

4. Write a Column

Snagging a column-writing opportunity was once an astronomical feat saved for the literary elite or rising stars. Today, just about anyone can write a column, whether in print or online. Look for free circulars in your community written by local business owners and experts who earn bylines and targeted press in exchange for quality articles.

For online opportunities, connect with relevant blogs in your niche and ask if they're interested in a guest post or having you contribute content to their monthly newsletter. Many bloggers, even those in the top of their field, welcome quality content that helps alleviate the stress of generating their own.

5. Become a Thought Leader

Thought leadership is a term loosely thrown around to describe anyone who gains influence from talking about a specific topic or making waves in their industry. The book ReWork from the brains behind Basecamp became a thought-leading manifesto on rewriting traditional rules of business. When it came out in 2010, no one was really talking about the counterintuitive approaches to business building such as under-doing your competition and focusing on the few things your business does well. Now, offering highly-efficient, simplified products that are intuitive to use seems to be the norm.

Being a thought leader means taking a strong stand, making a bold and public commitment to your cause, and providing provoking content, whether through a book, speech, blog, or white paper. You can pick your medium, whether posting articles on LinkedIn or getting booked as a TedX speaker, but the core idea of leading remains the same.

How are you promoting your business outside of social media? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Published on: Jan 12, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.