Social media now influences everything we do; how we travel, how we get the news, even how we organize our social lives. It also affects our businesses, whether we use it or not! So it’s better to be in control. Social media has become an innovative way to build and establish your business. Amex does it extensively. Telstra too, has embraced the age of social media, using twitter as a support forum for customers.

Social media apps (there are lots of them) get plenty of attention and can help generate leads, encourage collaboration, build communities, seed products, do consumer research and even get customer feedback.

Social media can be used in various ways. You can provide info about your service or product, discuss feedback among followers, build and foster relationships across your network, and use it as a general exchange of information among your customer base.

The more active you are in using various social media outlets, the more you are likely to benefit.

Create a following and become your own mini celebrity by using thought leadership as a tool. After a while you will start to build trust and become an authoritative, trusted source through social media exposure.

Creating social media activity is easy for companies through Facebook fan pages and twitter. Such sites allow you to create communities, link people, share blogs and posts and make connections with prospects. As these networks grow, your company will attract more attention.

You can use crowdsourcing to provide feedback, seed products or ideas, or market research. Crowdsourcing is replacing traditional marketing research focus groups. Crowdsourcing is all around us. It is the simple act of a company making an open call to a broader community or “crowd” to help them solve their problem. By getting a larger group of people to work on their problem you get them a better solution and a ready-made market for it.

The key to successful social media starts with listening and looking for opportunities.

Once you’ve identified the ways to market your service or product, you can adapt and become more easily accessible to your customers. Invite interaction and feedback with your audience to increase the amount of traffic received by your social media sites each day. You can establish great rapport with such audience interaction and more easily project your brand personality.

Used effectively, social media empowers and encourages your staff and clients to become brand ambassadors for your company.