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A lot of people tend to think that social media is all about the internet and all about technology. On the one hand this is true, but on the other hand it’s not the whole truth. More than anything social media is about relationships. Research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project shows that people use social networking sites such as Facebook primarily to stay in touch with their family and close friends (1). This is significant because it shows that who we interact with and what we do on social media mirrors what we do and who we stay in touch outside of social media.

Social media is not some separate cyber world, but enhances our relationships in the ‘real’ world outside of social media. As a business owner this means that the time you spend on social media related to your business should focus of facilitating a real-world, offline interaction. It’s important to set up a social media presence for your business that is both resource and relationship focused. By being resource focused your social media presence will draw people in, and by being relationship focused it will encourage people to stay in touch with you, and hopefully, pick up the phone.

When I have an interaction with someone online that I don’t know – a possible prospective client – my goal is to bring that interaction to a place where both parties are very interested in setting up a phone call or an in-person meeting. This means that when someone likes my Facebook Page (which I encourage you to do!) I reach out to them through my personal Facebook profile and thank them for the like and encourage them to ask me any questions that they may have about social media in general or my business specifically. This takes that simple, and maybe not so significant, initial click of a mouse and turns it into a relationship.

Social media offers opportunities not only to interact with new people, but to enhance and maintain relationships with current and former clients and customers. Social media is fast becoming a way that companies provide customer service to their clients. This is the case because companies are realizing that they need to be where their customers are and in the U.S., social networks and blogs reach nearly 80% of internet users and represents the majority of Americans’ time online (2). Learn more about why and how companies are providing customer service on social media with this great article from Mashable.

The takeaway message here is that social media offers opportunities to both reach prospective clients, and enhance the relationships that you already have with current and former clients. Because people spend so much time on social media they will often initially reach out to or research your company on social media and with a strategic social media presence, you can turn that into an offline relationship. The goal of every social media interaction related to your business should be to have that person come away feeling connected to you such that want to pick up the phone!