Social media is red hot - all you have to do is take a look at all of the Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+ links plastered all over the Internet to figure that out. All those social media channels give you opportunities to connect with and build relationships with other like minded people. Are you involved in social media?

Here's the thing: Most marketers know that social media is an important element for the growth of their business. They just don't know how to use it to its best advantage. At times, they often make mistakes that can be harmful to their brand reputation, not to mention expensive on their marketing budget. I've met many small business owners who feel that social media is a waste of time. They haven't bothered to set up a Facebook fan page, and their Twitter account was last dusted off around 2009. That's a huge mistake.

Social media is extremely important for all businesses. Not only is it a great way to drive traffic to your site, but it's also a fun way to build connections with your audience on a more personal level. Using social media as a networking platform is also an easier and more convenient way to go about building relationships with your target market rather than the traditional way - live networking events.

When you think about it - if you're going to attend a live networking event in your area you have to get dressed, drive to the event, pay for admission/drinks/food, spend time mingling with as many people as you possibly can in the limited amount of time you have (and hope they'll remember you) and then drive back home. And many times the people you meet are not your target audience.

I'm not at all saying you shouldn't attend live networking events, but networking online still allows you to interact in ways you would at a live event. You can ask questions, ask for help, offer help, recommend others, etc. But doing it online allows you the freedom to do it without constraints of space or time like live events often have. Some people like online networking via social media better because they feel it's less intimidating than attending a live event. I suggest a balance of both, with most of the time spent investing in social media, or by outsourcing social media tasks allowing you more time to attend local events.

Social media also makes it easier for your client or potential client to learn more about you and your business. Now days it's very common for people to go to the Internet and do a search when they're looking for a service or product. In fact, people often use the Internet as their primary source of finding information because it's quick and easy. This means if you're not utilizing social media they can't and won't find you!

Building a social media presence for your business is important and is going to provide a way for you to connect with more people in your target market and build strong relationships with them. And in the end people buy from those they know, like and trust.

If you're still on the fence about whether or not social media is important for your business, consider a few statistics (found at ):

• 172 million people visit Facebook daily

• 22 million people visit LinkedIn daily

• 20 million people visit Google+ daily

• 17 million people visit Pinterest daily

If none of that convinces you that social media is relevant to your business, consider this: Your customers ARE using it. And they're probably talking about you. If you're not there to monitor and respond, the consequences can be disastrous.

Author's Bio: 

Jeannine Clontz, IVAA CVA, MVA, EthicsChecked™, provides marketing and social media support, training and consulting to busy entrepreneurs. For information about finding a VA, download her FREE 10-Step Guide to Finding the Right VA, or to learn why Social Media should be an important part of your marketing plan with her FREE Report, Social Media Marketing Benefits, visit:, or contact her at