By Marce Colucci

Social media is on everyone’s lips these days and seems to be all the rage. Most companies I speak to are aware of it, believe they should be getting involved with it, but aren’t quite sure how and more importantly – why!

The mention of social media conjures up images of glaze-eyed kids tapping madly away on their Facebook “wall” or “tweeting” away on Twitter. Social media seems to have gotten a reputation as being something only young people use as either an excuse to ignore their work or to plan their social lives.

But social media is far more than that. It is a growing community of discerning consumers who, when they want to buy a product or service, will first search the web to find out what other people are saying about either the product they want or the vendor they are considering buying from.

This makes social media a vital part of any company’s marketing strategy, especially if they want to build credibility within their markets. Gone are the days when companies could hide behind their ads and paint just the right picture if they created good ones. Buyers can now consult a number of different online references before they decide to buy, and many of those references are other buyers.

Consumers don’t even have to go onto sites like Twitter to find out about the product or service they require. When searching on Google, Tweet streams with people’s personal views automatically are returned. Consumers can share opinions and views about a company using such social media channels and if those views aren’t positive, then it can hurt that company’s chances of growing their customer base.

Because of social media, it is even more important now for companies to build relationships with their potential clients in both the business and consumer world and these relationships start online, before you even get to meet your prospective buyers. Buyers are looking for companies they can trust, and that trust is built over time. They also want to deal with a company that is willing to share their expertise and help educate them about the product or service they sell, without overtly trying to sell at every opportunity.

They also want to deal with a company that communicates with them regularly, without drowning them with emails, texts or newsletters. Buyers now have to be given the option to be “spoken” to, online. Master this and you will be well on your way to establishing lasting relationships with not only lasting customers, but strong advocates who will be quick to recommend you to their friends and colleagues even if it is at the click of a button.

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Marce Colucci

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