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What is the Point of Social Media, Anyway?
By: Aprel Phelps Downey
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 Everyone is raving about the benefits of social media. It’s presented as the "be all and end all" of business interaction. Anyone worth a grain of salt in the business world has a wealth of social media accounts and the impressive connection numbers to go with each. You’ve played along, creating the keyword rich social media profile pages and adding interactive buttons to your blog. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook are checked on an hourly basis in the hopes of seeing the new friends, followers, and connections everyone talks about. Each check provides disappointing results as there are no new connections to be found. You slowly start to wonder what the point to social media is anyway.
Rest assured that social media can take your business to new levels. You just need to revamp your approach!  
Start by recognizing that the key to social media lies in the name itself. In order to generate a response from your social media efforts, you need to be social with others. Think of it as a real life conversation you’d have with a colleague, potential client, or business partner. In order for the spark to be established you must first form a bond with this person. Whether it is shared interest in a new product unveiling or the latest industry hotspot, you must find common ground. Seek out these types of connections online and get the conversation started. That common interest is uncovered through comments, posts, and email conversations with individuals you wish to make a connection with.
Take the time to read what others are saying and make a comment, just as you would with a real-life conversation. Create a relevant blog post based on industry hot topics and share it on the appropriate social media sites. Make a valiant effort to be a part of the conversation. This will place your name and brand inside a particular industry. As a result these individuals will begin to learn who you are. The more they learn, the more respect and trust you will earn.
Another great key to social media is understanding how each site works. Just like the various levels of your marketing plan, each social media site serves a different purpose. Twitter and LinkedIn are great destinations for sharing ideas and providing feedback on the ideas of others. Facebook and Instagram serve to humanize your business, placing a familiar face with an unfamiliar product or service. This information will help you fine tune your marketing plan, ensuring your target market audience is being reached.
In order to shine on social media you need to be, well, social! Join in a Twitter conversation. Make a thought-provoking Facebook status update. Praise someone on a well-written blog article. Before long you will begin to see what the point of social media is after all! 

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About the Author
Aprel Phelps Downey is a writing/marketing professional who holds more than seven years marketing experience, including all aspects of promotional and informational campaigns and website development.  To learn more about Aprel please visit her website at www.aprelphelpsdowney.com or follow her on twitter: @aphelpsdowney.
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