Many businesses are put off social networking sites. They feel that such sites distract staff from getting on with work. They think that social networking sites, like Facebook or MySpace are some kind of security risk for their business. Or they just think these sites are for bored teenagers and have nothing to do with business.

However, businesses who ignore social networking sites are doing themselves a real disservice. The reason is that by taking part in social networks you can understand your marketplaces more easily. Without social networking sites it’s difficult to find out what your customers are saying about your company. They could be chatting away in the pubs and clubs up and down the country saying you’re the best thing they’ve ever encountered – or they could be telling people to avoid you at all costs. But you’d never know.

Luckily, social networking does all this in public. So you can get a glimpse into the world of your customers and find out how good or bad you are. Equally, social networking sites enable you to find out new markets, by monitoring conversations for things that people want.

In other words, if a business does not engage with the world of social networking it will lose out to new competition which will keep a listening ear out for ideas and opportunities. Social networking is no longer an interesting idea – it is now a business requirement.

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