Social media has overturned everything we know about marketing and has ushered in a new media paradigm seemingly overnight. Many businesses have been born or even died because of Facebook, and it is now more important than ever to harness the power of social media to have an effective, relevant and successful overall marketing strategy – both personally and professionally.

With the current generation raised on Facebook as an integral part of life, it is crucial that we as individuals and businesses learn to utilize this new medium to its fullest potential. To do this, we must remember that social media is very different than traditional media in that it is a two-way street. Traditional marketing, like a TV commercial for instance, talks at your potential customers while social media engages them in a real-time discussion. And if your social marketing strategy is not executed properly, it can be very detrimental to your businesses. Social media has now made it essential for businesses to practice a greater degree of integrity and transparency because of the increased level of accountability brought about by sites like Facebook.

Social media for business will not drive leads like an effective website, but it will turn satisfied customers into loyal brand advocates who will in turn promote your business on your behalf. Word of mouth and referrals are still one of the most powerful marketing tools, and social media has amplified this effect exponentially. At the same time, it has also amplified any negative experiences your clients may have and post online to share with their social circle. This is why it is more important than ever to maintain a strong relationship with your customers by understanding their needs, communicating with them often, and providing solutions that offer real value. This is the foundation to success in business and life.

Social entrepreneur and Forbes contributor, Naveen Jain, has said that success is not measured by how much money we have in the bank, but rather how many people’s lives we have impacted through it. If we focus on relationship building and providing our partners with win-win solutions to problems, then sustainable success and financial security will follow. Social media allows us to develop these business relationships beyond what is possible offline and tremendously magnify their influence. Social media knows no boundaries – geographical or otherwise – and affords us the opportunity to communicate with our customers like never before. To stay relevant, your business social media pages should be updated often and share important facts, ideas and expert insights from your industry that offer unique value to your target audience.

On an individual level, we must also learn to use social media to promote our own personal brand. By engaging others through social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, we can begin to create a following, and more importantly, a community/network online. To do this, commit to posting on social media several times a day in which you engage others or ask their opinions on something. We all are experts in something, so also look into starting a blog or contributing to one devoted to your industry or passions.

Reach out to thought leaders in your space and research/report on various best practices of your industry. Use your new connections to network and attend conferences that interest you and are relevant to your business. Send emails to famous people and business leaders who inspire you and be sure to follow/like their pages too. Begin building your life around an industry or movement that you’re passionate about.

Our ability to use this new form of media to become social entrepreneurs is also crucial to address the myriad of problems facing our world today. We must learn to listen to our own passions and make use of the new media to create a sphere of influence and enact meaningful change in the world. Social media is creating a new globally connected subjective reality, and for the first time in history, a space for us to collectively envision a new way forward. Harness the power of social media today to use your gifts to their fullest potential!

Originally posted 2012-01-16 21:01:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Anthony Chiaravallo is an Internet Marketing Consultant for Single Throw and specializes in website design/optimization, social media marketing and growing his clients businesses online. He has been a Marketing Consultant for Fortune 500 companies, contributes for several business blogs, and is also a motivational speaker on topics such as social entrepreneurship, new media marketing and business/sales strategy. His work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Washington Post. Follow Anthony on Twitter or email him at achiaravallo@gmail.com.