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What Is Social Media and Why Is It Important to My Business?

We’ve all heard the phrase social media, but what actually is social media and how can you use it to help your business?

In short, social media is a term that encapsulates a number of online communication platforms which make it easy for people to not only publish their own news and views but also comment on that posted by others.

Why Is Social Media Important?

Social Media has provided everyone with a platform to air their opinions, views and grievances with anyone around the world. People who use Social Media often become highly influential and are seen as experts in their own sphere and can develop large audiences around their area of interest.

Communities of like-minded people are forming around common interests over the Web regardless of where they are based in the world because the regular restrictions of geographical locations do not apply.

How Can Social Media Help My Business?
There are various social media platforms you can use to deliver messages to your readers and followers which we’ll look at through the remainder of this series. But before embarking on any marketing activity, it’s important to know why it’s useful.

Social media is instant so your messages can be delivered as they happen, and most importantly, it’s interactive – you are actually inviting comment and suggestion. Of course the most important point to remember is that the search engines love social media is its content is current and fresh. Your comments will be picked up by the search engines – how exciting is that?

How To Get Involved With Social Media – Blogging

With a blog you can post content in the form of text and pictures and it is possible to have a two way dialogue by way of people commenting on your posts. You can have control over what comments actually appear on your pages if you manage your comments using your preferred blogging software so you can approve, delete or mark them as spam.

Blogs can be written in many styles from the very informal personal right through to a professional corporate blog. It’s important as a small business to inject some personality into your blog as your followers are trying to get to know you as well as read your material.

How To Get Involved With Social Media – Twitter
Twitter has become increasing popular over the past year or so with everyone who’s anyone Tweeting their little hearts out. Twitter is a micro-blogging site which limits the length of the comments you can post to 140 characters. It’s no go for posting large chunks of content but ideal for posting links to interesting information.

Twitter is highly interactive and users re-post other peoples comments (Tweets) if they are useful and also respond. You choose who you ‘follow’, i.e.: whose Tweets you read, so it is a great platform for making contacts and establishing relationships.

How to Get Involved With Social Media – Facebook
Many of us have used Facebook for personal networking for many years. But did you know you can also use if for business? Again it’s a great way to connect with people with similar interests and it’s easy to build relationships by interacting with other people in your network.

You can also create fan pages for your business and post events to advertise particular product launches.

How to Get Involved With Social Media – Linked In
LinkedIn is more of a business networking tool than strictly a social one. It is structured in such a way that your occupation and education are featured more than hobbies and interests for example. However, it works in much the same way as Facebook in that you can invite people to connect with you and join common interest groups. It also has a feature where you can recommend people so it’s great for asking for testimonials.

About the Author
Justine Curtis is the director of My Virtual Assistant Limited which is currently expanding across the UK with a team of virtual assistant licensees and founder of the UK Association of Virtual Assistants (UKAVA) which offers free resources and information to its subscribers. Justine is the author of Setting Yourself Up As A Virtual Assistant and passes on the benefits of her vast experience of the VA role to aspiring and progressive virtual PAs as a co-founder of the VA Success Group. Justine is also a co-founder of Academy for Online Business, a company devoted to helping self-employed professionals and entrepreneurs to build their own online business empires.

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