What IS social media for Business?

Social Media is a ubiquitous term, but what does it mean for your business? Is Facebook a business solution? What is Twitter, or LinkedIn for that matter, and how could it possibly help me sell my products and reach my customers?
An old adage says that you can’t be seen if you’re not where people are looking. Right now, customers, clients and just about everybody is flocking to social networks and sharing information about themselves and the products they use. This is a golden opportunity to create a strong relationship with a brand loyal customer. Your customers are proactively seeking your brand out because they like what you offer and are looking for information, services, and news. In a world where traditional advertising is a fact of life and we are hit with thousands of ad impressions every day, brand loyalty is more important now than ever.
This is why you need to be involved in social media. Facebook’s user base has grown to over 800 million, Twitter’s nearing 500 million and LinkedIn reaches well over 150 million professionals. Putting your message in front of those eyes and developing a targeted message to engage and interact with your existing customers helps to grow your brand image and the impression users make of you. Being inactive in social networking gives the impression of being unprepared and uninterested in reaching out to your customers.
Facebook, Twitter and other similar networks are a free and easy way to share news about your company, promote special events, introduce new products and listen to and engage your customers. I caution any business that gets involved in social media not to ignore their fans and followers. Once a company profile is created, it must be maintained, keeping content fresh and responding to the posts on your page and the responses you generate. Managing your presence can turn a customer’s poor experience into a good one and a good experience into a great one. Handling criticism and problems with tact and professionalism with such a forward facing entity displays to the world how much you care about your customers.