The first month of 2011 has already passed by and the general consensus appears to be that everybody is busier than ever, but mostly for less reward. So what to do?

The answer is usually look for new ways of doing things, new ideas, new markets. Easier said than done when you are up against it time-wise anyway, but this is where technology and social media can step in – even if you think you know nothing about it and you won’t be able to deal with it.

Those that know me will probably tell you that for the past six months I have been something like a broken record about how 2011 is going to be very different business-wise. 2011 is going to be all about relationships. 2011 is all about social interaction – at least that’s what I think. With less scope for aggressive price cutting, limited budgets for expensive marketing campaigns and people in general looking for added value from those they pay their money to, the way you interact and respond is likely to see the best get ahead.

Many thought Twitter was set to be a short-lived wonder – admittedly this writer, despite writing about the internet since 1997 was a slow convert – but it is still here and apparently growing in popularity as a way of staying in touch and offering a fast reactive customer service. Facebook too, at one point, seemed to be unable to make the step into a fully-fledged business tool for a while but even that appears to be changing.

But why, as a moderately successful business in the traditional sense do you need to think about about social media particularly in economic hard times when your instinct is to follow what you know – only try harder?

Well the biggest reason is that social media, the new way of doing it is really nothing new. It is is just the traditional way of doing business is a slightly more technological way. An understanding of a PC or smartphone may help but if you are good at business per se you will be well placed to also make a success of social media.

Social media is all about relationships. Yet so are most businesses. The best businesses are those that show they care, show they understand and show their customer’s satisfcation is as important as making a profit. Where once it may have been the odd mailshot, courtesy call etc, social media has converted that to maybe a tweet here or there, a Facebook status update or comment and maybe an email marketing cmpaign.

Social media is all about engaging and enabling those relationships with customers. Opening dialogue, listening and responding positively Yet so is traditional business. The business that refuses to create a rapport with its customer base won’t be around for long.

Your best customers are not always your biggest payers. They are the most satisfied. With satisfaction; understanding and loyalty usually follow. In the traditional sense these are the people that might have recommended friends and family to use you. In the Social Media world this is the same only the potential new recommendations are normally ten-fold and even larger for a topical mention on twitter under a high volume hash tag.

The business world and our social lives are busier than ever. Everything is at a faster pace – both online and off. Social Media however can give you an advantage. You can interact with clients at any hour and when you are anywhere via Facebook, Twitter et al. You don’t need to wait for a new print run for a marketing campaign you can literally put it live online and watch it grow virally in minutes. Social Media allows you to cope better with the information hungry generation who want everything now.

So, why social media? Well why not? Looking at the bare bones of every social media tool, network or programme it really is nothing unusual just traditional tools updated.