Like it or loathe it, social media is here to stay. More than two million Australians are now on LinkedIn, ten million are using Facebook and businesses of all sizes are catching on to the ‘tweeting’ phenomenon. Whether you’re in a B2C or B2B business, social networking offers many strategic opportunities. However, it’s important to fully understand what platforms are available as well as why and how social media can help you.

Social media platforms are constantly changing and improving and in the past few months alone Facebook and LinkedIn have introduced a number of new features and Google launched its Google+ social media platform.

Companies can now create their own profile pages on LinkedIn which allows them to share announcements, product releases, promotions and news articles with their followers. How these followers react to these updates can be monitored and this can help companies understand what types of posts work best.

The new Facebook features include a new Insights metric that publicly displays the number of people talking about your page. This can provide some indication as to the relevancy of your Facebook page. The new Ticker, Gestures and Timeline features allow Facebook to pick up even more data about what appeals to its users which will inevitably appeal to advertisers.

The Google+ social media platform allows users to segment connections into “Circles”, video chat with up to ten people at the same time through “Hangouts” and receive information related to your personal interests through “Sparks”.

Social media might not be a major focus for every company at the minute. However, it is fast becoming an essential marketing communications tool so it’s important to keep up to date.