If you are a beleaguered user of public transport, you may have picked up a copy of the Metro newspaper this morning.

Past the first few pages of news, current affairs and gossip sits an article entitled ‘And the point of Social Media is?

It’s a question often asked by sceptical business owners, and while the article doesn’t quite answer the headline question, it does offer advice which businesses should consider.

The point is not to simply get a Facebook page or Twitter account and expect thousands of previously un-tapped customers to find you and buy you there and then. The insightful part for businesses comes towards the end of the article:

“But if social media isn’t the ultimate answer, where should we point our ideas and ourselves?
“Go offline [says their interviewed expert]… Offline will always matter more than online…”

There is definitely something to be said for an effective combination of the two. Your online strategy should centre around a continuation and enhancement of your offline efforts. Social Media can be great for finding communities, like LinkedIn groups, to join and engage with both on and offline (many organise networking events of their own). Adding a contact on LinkedIn after meeting should be standard practice and with it, a personal message reminding them how you met.

Once you have laid foundations offline and are connected, engage with your community. Social Media is an open platform where thoughts and opinions are (mostly) welcomed. It is somewhere to discuss your passions and interests, and display something of your personality.

Relationships forged offline and in their infancy, can be nurtured and strengthened online through connections, messages and relevant content.

So, the point of Social Media? It’s to build and maintain valuable relationships – both offline and online. Simple!