Social media as a marketing tool is still a foreign idea to many people. Someone perplexed by the necessity of social media in today’s business world recently asked, “Does tweeting drive customers to buy the product?” No. Not necessarily. But what social media can do for a company is more than just revenue-based. What social media can do is create a company that is personable, friendly and engaging. Consumers want the companies they buy from to be someone they can trust. They want to know there is a person they can talk to about the product. Subliminally this is what twitter, Facebook, Google+ and all other social media platforms can do for a company: create a relationship with their consumers.

Here are some tips that can create a personal relationship with your followers, friends and fans:

Tweet WITH them, not TO them
This is obvious, but one thing to focus on is noticing what your followers are saying, and engage in an actual conversation with them. It doesn’t matter if the conversation is about your product or not. Talk with them about what they like or dislike, their favorite places to visit, what

Keep things fresh
Don’t always retweet old information or send out the same thing every day. I saw on one particular timeline the business had only tweeted about the silly holidays for each day (National Hug a Hippo day, Fly a kite day, etc). While these gimmicks are fun and entertaining for your followers, it can get old. Change it up. Keep it interesting. More people are likely to pay attention to you if they don’t know what you will tweet next.

Offer something
Provide your followers something they can’t get anywhere else, or as easily anywhere else. Keep them up-to-date on the things going on in your industry. If you provide them with good information, they will trust you. If they come to you for information, they will come to you for other things as well.

Answer everything
Even if what they say is nasty, respond. Sometimes when people complain it is just to get a response they couldn’t get any other way (just like a newborn baby). Keep in mind some people won’t like your products or services, but if they like YOU, they might give your company another chance.

Don’t be afraid to adapt. There is nothing worse than a company stuck in their old-fashioned ways. If twitter dies down and a new medium pops up, don’t sit there on twitter asking where everyone is. Be aware of these changes. Don’t get left behind on some ancient medium. Remember those poor people stuck in myspace mode after Facebook started? Don’t be one of them.

These concepts can be used in every platform you are engaged in, from Facebook to Pinterest. Being there for your followers is what will bring attention to your company, product or service. This will create a community atmosphere which consumers desire. Without social media, you are just a company. With social media, you can be a trusted friend.

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