By Tom Church, The Scott Partnership

Over the past decade the term ‘social media’ has gone from geek buzzword to global phenomenon, with people communicating and connecting with each other via various platforms such as, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Social media are real-time, global and interactive communication tools allowing people to broadcast their views, messages, images and events to the masses. However, this is not just a platform for old friends to reunite or your best friend to share unflattering photographs of you to hundreds of people. With so many people participating in social media there is a huge opportunity for businesses to communicate with the consumer. Facebook, the largest and most popular social network currently has over 500 million members, or for a growing business, 500 million potential customers.

Social media are low-cost and no-barriers-to-entry platforms that can allow businesses to interact with internal and external contacts on a regular basis. With millions of potential customers and investors available at the click of a button it can be tempting to spam them with your product or service.

Although shameless self promotion is fine in small doses, the most effective social media campaigns often consist of engagement, collaboration and a willingness to learn. Listen to what customers are saying about your products and respond to all comments whether positive or negative. This not only improves the image of the company’s customer service but can also open your eyes to what customers really think of the brand and products. This can lead to collaboration between the business and its customers, helping to achieve an improved product or service that the consumer is happy with. Discussing industry hot topics can facilitate in improving brand image.

By engaging in these debates a SME (small and medium enterprises) can quickly establish itself in the market and become visible to thought leaders, trendsetters and prospective customers.

This may all sound easy enough to do but the success of a campaign comes down to the consistency and activeness of your online presence. Managing social media can be extremely time-consuming especially when dealing with several different platforms at once. It is important to invest time in developing a social media presence and understand that you will not see results overnight.

Through regular and meaningful conversation with customers, prospects, industry leaders and investors, social media can be extremely fulfilling and effective in helping your business to grow.

Tom Church, The Scott Partnership - www.scottpr.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/tspscottpr

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