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By Diana T. Torres

Anyone who isn’t using social media for business today is missing an opportunity to connect with a larger audience. Why is social media so important for business?

1. The possibility for spreading content or ideas is endless.

2. Social media is high on influence and grand in scale, and the cost — a portion of traditional media channels.

What can you do with social media?

Brand: Use social media to strengthen and protect your brand. People are already talking about your company on social media. If you’re not involved you’ll miss:

  • Opportunities to take advantage of positive comments
  • Negative feedback that could call attention to areas needing improvement
  • Connecting to customers or prospects

Marketing has morphed into communicating with the public instead of pushing information. Today people are looking to connect. They need a sense of community and want to be heard, whether the feedback is negative or positive. Effective marketing includes communication through social media.

In the past, people would share experiences with family and friends. Now they have a wider platform to voice their opinions. With the push of a button thousands or millions are reached instantly. Social media is a great way to interact with people and make them feel comfortable enough to talk to you about your brand.

Competition: Your competitors are probably using social media. And that provides a great opportunity to watch the competition. Everyone is watching one another and a lot can be learned by checking out the competition’s online presence.

Recruiting: Today the easiest way to find a new employee is by using social media. Job seekers are taking advantage of social media to find new job opportunities. When you use social media along with traditional recruiting, you’ll have a better chance of finding qualified candidates.

Company Communication: Add social media to your arsenal of communication tools with employees. How can you communicate with employees using social media?

  • Connect with employees on Facebook® or Twitter™ or other social media outlets to share up-to-date inside company information.
  • Share benefits information in ways employees will understand. And promote your company wellness campaign by posting tips for employees and their families

How to get started? Develop a social media plan and decide what you want to accomplish. Through social media you can increase sales, improve retention and strengthen your company’s standing.

Strategy: Think about a plan of action that will help you to accomplish your goals. Your business objectives will help you to create a strategy. And bear in mind that with social media you may need more than one method to suit your business needs.

Tactics: Each strategy may contain several tactics. Offering discounts for people who complete a survey may help you to understand your client base. To increase your client base, you may offer gift cards to people who provide referrals.

Things to do

  1. Once you have a social media plan in place, remember to be yourself and not the pushy salesperson. Let your personality come through your posts — but don’t become overly personal.
  1. It’s not always about the sale. Be the expert for your product and create a community for your followers.
  1. To engage people ask questions. Be specific and look for opportunities to continue the conversation.
  1. Contests, polls and questions are fun ways to engage your audience.
  1. Have a system in place that will provide feedback to your company’s decision makers. Monitor all of your social media outlets so that you are on top of questions and conversations. Let nothing slip through the cracks!
  1. Provide access to your social media outlets to your website. Quick access makes it easier for clients or customers to find you. To drive traffic back to your website include a link or URL to your website from your social media outlets.

Once you get started, you’ll discover how much fun it is to interact with people through social media; and you’ll find how seamlessly it can work with business objectives.