Social media sites including Facebook and Myspace as well as platforms like Twitter give companies direct access to their customers. It’s worth remembering that it’s not just the number of people you have access to, it’s the interest they have in your product or service that counts.

Once you’ve built up a following or a group of fans, your organisation has the advantage of its own research team or focus group. Getting ready to launch a new product or service? You have access to reviewers who are already interested in your business. If you’re ready for some constructive feedback, you’re in the perfect position to ask for it. You can even answer customer enquiries and use search terms to find dissatisfied or disappointed customers. Twitter is particularly good for finding out what’s being said in real time. By doing all this in an open forum, you can encourage more customer communication and the kind of commentary that could help move your focus to fresh product positioning or to developing new products. If, for example, some part of your customer service just doesn’t work, you’ll be able to see where things are going wrong. You can also link to new content on a blog, announce the launch of a website or share some news or information about your industry. Or, perhaps you’d like to offer your fans and followers a special discount – as a thank-you for their time and attention. There’s one key question you should ask yourself; how would your customers like you to connect with them?

Social Media is an important part of digital strategy not only because it can increase traffic to a site or boost your click throughs, but because it can tell you what people think about your products and services. And, it can help you use that information to improve the way you do things in the future.