I am delighted to introduce Vicky Anscombe, who will be guest blogging for us occasionally. Vicky is an Online PR and Social Media Consultant for Further, a Norwich-based SEO and Marketing agency who only a few months ago were crowned the UK’s Best eCommerce Marketing Agency for 2011.

Take it away Vicky….

Social media is an online phenomenon that is rapidly growing, and changing every day. This makes it hugely powerful, and hugely interesting – but also rather frightening, if you’re not used to the idea of getting your business online.

If you’re still unsure of the benefits of social media, and your company is without a social media account, it’s time to sort the fact from the fiction and look at why you should be getting on board:

1) It’s free, fast and it’s easy to use.

If people need to contact you, they can use a channel that won’t cost them any money (telephone) or could take a while getting to you (email). Twitter messages are sent instantly, and you can reply instantly. Great for companies who need a high level of customer service and who value speedy responses.

2) It adds a new dimension to your brand.

We admit; social media isn’t a magic recipe for increasing sales by 2,000%, but you can use it to communicate and engage with your existing customers, thereby improving your brand’s reputation – and reaching out to potential customers. People enjoy talking to their favourite brands, seeing what you’ve been up to, and finding out your plans for the future.

3) Promote your successes.

Won a prize for your services? Been nominated for an award? Got a brand new team that are making you prouder every day? Social media lets you upload your pictures and talk about your achievements, no matter how small. It’s PR at its most basic level, and it shows your followers that you value your business – and you’re doing well.

4) Moving with the times.

Businesses that refuse to use social media on the grounds that it’s ‘not for us’ or they ‘don’t need it’ are sometimes right, but not often. Unless you run a correctional facility or a scrapyard, you should into exploring social media. Setting up a Twitter account takes minutes, and shows your customers (and competitors) that you’ve got something to say for yourself.

5) It’s low maintenance.

You don’t have to constantly update your Facebook or Twitter; just a few updates a day will keep your followers aware of your online presence. Nobody expects you to tweet every ten minutes. If anything, all you need to look out for are questions, comments and (hopefully never) complaints.

If you’ve got any more questions about social media, and what it can do for your business, send us a tweet @further. We’ll be happy to come to your aid!

BIO: Vicky Anscombe is an Online PR and Social Media Consultant for Further, a Norwich-based SEO and Marketing agency. She enjoys writing blogs on varying topics, making brownies, eating brownies and watching Father Ted over and over again.