Twitter exploded in 2008, as did the whole concept of social media. If you own or operate a business, you are at least familiar with what I’m talking about. When I first joined twitter, I thought it was just like every other social networking or bookmarking site, but I soon found out it was so much more than that.

At first glance, you may think twitter is a gathering place for lonely, bored people to tell total strangers what they’re doing at any given moment. Or you may see a business post a tweet with their link and think the whole social media thing is a big waste of your time. But hang out a while and start engaging with some of the people you follow, and you’ll see how beneficial it can be for your business.

For example, I follow Seth and I started responding to some of his tweets and reading the links he was posting, and now I’m writing a post on his blog. This type of networking helps him because it provides content for his blog that has a different perspective, and it helps me because now all his readers will learn who I am and what I do. Not only did engaging in conversation with Seth get me this gig, he’s also given me advice and sent me helpful articles that pertain to my consulting work.

I’ve also gotten advice about how to get more traffic to my blog from people on twitter that have years more experience than me. These are highly successful bloggers and business people, and they’re giving me this help and advice for free! That’s the thing about social media; it’s social so you start to build relationships and friendships and who wouldn’t want to help a friend be as successful as possible? Then of course, there’s the fact that you’re building brand recognition.

There are millions of people on twitter and other social media sites now. When you join these sites, all these people see who you are, what your business is and what products or services you provide. Companies spend billions of dollars a year for this type of exposure and you’re getting it for free, just by engaging in friendly conversations.

There is no doubt social media is here to stay, and I believe that twitter will grow even bigger and become even more important in 2009. If you own or operate any type of business, you’d be foolish not to join the rest of us meeting and networking online. But let’s hear what you think. Do you agree that social media is here to stay? Is twitter the best one out there right now, or do you prefer other social sites? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment, question or suggestion and let’s keep the conversation going.

Jennifer Larson is the owner of JBerry Marketing Consultants, and has spent the last three years promoting her clients online. If you would like to learn more, you can visit her blog at www.jberrymarketing.wordpress.com.

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Seth Goldstein is the Principal Creative Director at Goldstein Media LLC. He has been in the Web design and Internet marketing business for more than 10 years. A self-proclaimed technologist, Seth is addicted to all types of technology. He loves to help businesses of all sizes figure out the best way to use the Internet to grow their business.

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