It came from out of nowhere.  One day you woke up and the world was tweeting.  Tweeting, really?  You thought to yourself…”This is one fad that I’m passing on, a tweeter, I’m not.”  You even made a pact not to fall victim to a Facebook page.  As friends and family buzzed about their latest Farmville conquest, you proudly stated the fact that you were a non-conformist.

Until the incessant flutter of emails and web pages inviting you to visit affiliate company pages began.  Before you knew it, colleagues at work had a page.  Even worse, direct competitors were on LinkedIn and racking up the friends!

Ugh!  What to do?  My advice – embrace it, make peace with it, and lead a double life.  You can still remain a rebel on your on time, but social media is far too precious to overlook when it comes to your organization’s visibility and online opportunities.  I like to categorize the benefits of social media into two functions: Behind the scenes and on the front line.

Let’s look at the facts on the front line.  There is an estimated 1.9 billion internet users worldwide and three quarters of them are visiting social networking sites.  These sites have become even more popular than checking personal email.  So, regardless of what your organization does, a large percentage of your customers and prospects fall within these statistics.

Now, with social media, it’s easier to find these people and gather information.  This can be done by:
a) creating your own pages and blogs
b) joining and contributing to other forums where your target congregates

By using these platforms you can forge relationships, gain credibility through recommendations, and establish trust while customizing your message accordingly.  Not to mention that you can gain real-time feedback and insight about your organization’s endeavors through blogs and tweets.  And tracking this data is free!  Surely ingratiating yourself to tweets and blogs is worth the knowledge, presence and thought leadership your organization can gain from them.

Still not convinced?  Behind the scenes, social media can also increase your company’s awareness and messaging. Posting advice, citing quotes, and creating blogs that link back to your organization can increase your rankings on search engines, like Google and Bing.  The more you infiltrate the internet, the better, and social media sites make it incredibly easy to do.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

1. Set up a LinkedIn account for yourself where you can highlight your expertise and your organization.

2. Start looking for other groups within your industry to join.  This way you can keep yourself current with the latest news, as well as showcase your company’s products and services through the knowledge your comments provide.

Once you have established yourself on this highly used business networking site, you can think about how your company can promote via Facebook or Twitter and open an account. Hopefully at this point, the mention of twittering will no longer prompt involuntary twitching:)