08/05/2013 11:53 BST | Updated 08/07/2013 06:12 BST

The Power of Social Media for Businesses

Social media is a way to highlight one's differentiated positioning. It's useful in increasing global awareness and visibility by attracting web visitors, and by sharing ideas and opinions that viewers can confirm. I want to talk about these elements below.

Why does social media marketing matter for businesses, and how is it different?

In brief, social media and web marketing strongly changes the way companies communicate with partners and customers. The process is no longer about pushing content via email to a target audience. Now it's about delivering high level content the targets will find by themselves. So the key is to find the best place to be on the web and to deliver the content customers both want to receive and are looking for.

Companies have to listen to the reality that customers (and competitors) can indicate where and how they should be active in social media. They can't exclude web marketing and social media marketing. It's now the best way to maximize word of mouth and create viral marketing. It's a method of promotion that relies on customers helping to market an idea, product, or service by choosing to share something.

What we've learned about social media marketing

The value of self-generated content has become far more prominent for us over the last two years. The internet is invaluable as a platform for direct interaction with the market. Similarly, the rise of online news and blogging platforms means we have been able to create our own company 'voice' and build a presence online.

We have found that blogging is an efficient way of communicating with others. Many blogs are free to set up, easy to edit, and you can post a piece quickly. The latter is important if you're responding to topical news within the sector. The approachable language of blogs means you're immediately making yourself more accessible to new readers.

We set up several blogs early last year. Both have definitely been worthwhile. We have a mixture of blog posts up. These range from advice pieces from senior members of the business, to topical comment on current sector news, to news.

We also have a Twitter account. I also think that we can't ignore the value of Twitter; it's used by virtually all companies with an online presence, and it's a great way of keeping in contact with those who are interested in your company's activities. It's a great barometer tool. You can quickly see which topics produce the most re-tweets or comments, and this gives you an idea of your readership more widely.

With each tweet having a 140 character limit, Twitter will always be more of a conduit for your editorial, but I think it's undoubtedly a very useful one.

LinkedIn has come to wield a significant amount of influence online. We think it's an excellent tool for linking to our blog posts and creating engagement with our audience. We also find that our written pieces of work have sparked lively debates in the LinkedIn comments section! The site has a more corporate feel than Twitter. When used well, it can increase your company's visibility and reach within the sector.

Yet aren't there difficulties?

Many elements of social media are easy to maintain and they give businesses a distinctive voice online to interact with their audience. Yet there are challenges: time investment is an element companies should consider, as it takes longer than many people realise to write a post in a way which is both informative and accessible; getting the company's voice right can be difficult; and allocating appropriate resources to create a community and a genuine dialogue can be a struggle for companies, particularly smaller ones.

That having been said, I believe there's real power in social media. Communicating with customers, suppliers, and key business leaders is at the heart of what we do. Social media platforms enable us to do this.

We've posted this on our blog,, as well. Stop by to read more.