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What is “Social Media,” and how can you use it to grow your business?

By Julie Heidbreder

 

If you find yourself reading this article, odds are that you have wondered, “What is social media?” The answer is that social media is the sharing of information through social technologies. Or put simply, interacting with others online via websites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Twitter, Facebook and their ilk were started with the purpose of linking friends electronically, but more and more businesses have begun to realize that social media is the perfect tool to connect with future clients –to offer services to the people who need them.

Of course, social media isn’t straight-out advertisement. At least on the surface. Done well, the beauty of using social media is that it is much more subtle than a roadside billboard. As a business, you aren’t broadcasting your services, or screaming “Pick me! Pick me!” Rather, you are offering something of value, something that will draw in readers. This is your chance to talk to people, not at them. The best communicators on Facebook and Twitter share a little bit about themselves and their interests. In your case, perhaps it’s your sense of humor, or maybe you write great opinion articles.

But how does this relate to business, you ask? How can writing about your gardening hobby help your firm bring in new clients? To quote LLRX.com, “People want to hire other people, not businesses.” This is the truth. But beyond that, there is an answer that is even more basic: You need to get your name out there. An online presence will give you an edge when someone looks you up on the internet.

No matter how they found you (either by word-of-mouth, the phonebook or internet), clients will likely try to look you up and read about you on the internet. Nowadays we Google our dates and read online restaurant reviews before trying somewhere new. So assume potential clients will do the same with you.

If I have to choose between a business that has no online presence through social media (If I can’t find them online, I don’t know who they are) or one who does have an online presence, I will choose the latter. Yes, your business website may plug your services and tell me how great you are, and if it lists credible accolades, then I may believe you. But why should I take your word for it? You’re a business. You’re supposed to tell me how great you are…Even if you aren’t really great at all. But if I can find a Twitter account or a personal blog for that business, then I can read what they have to say and decide for myself if they are expert or not. Unfortunately, this means that it is not necessarily the best business that wins the new client. It’s the business that is more social media-savvy.

I hope that this article, the first in a series on social media, has been of service to you. Next week I will talk about Twitter and how you can use it to grow your client-base.