As social media outlets have increased and more people are connecting at home and on the go, startup businesses have had to learn how to adapt their communication to target social media users. For consumers, this means having more access to decision-makers, who are often notified about specials long before non-social media users. While this should be viewed as a positive, there are some primary ways that social media has changed how startup businesses communicate.

1. Far more accountability

Startup businesses who had a defective product in the past often notified clients in writing within 30 to 60 days of being notified of a problem. Today, when a defect is identified, clients can be notified immediately via social networking sites. Many of these sites offer a live chat option that allows consumers to talk among themselves, spreading the news even further. Social media has made it crucial for a business to be accountable and disclose problems as soon as they are found. Failing to disclose problems in this day and age could result in serious damage to a company’s reputation.

2. Greater visibility

Many consumers never had any contact with a company outside of their customer service department. This communication often occurred by telephone or by mail.Today, many sites offer a live chat option, have customer service staff available for commenting or answering questions on social sites and often have marketing people online monitoring customer comments and suggestions. One of the additional benefits of this visibility is that companies can often determine what improvements or specials customers would like to see in their product or service.

3. Smarter public relations

Many companies depend on word of mouth as part of their overall marketing plan. Unfortunately, the most positive public relations campaign can be ruined with a single customer complaint on social media. Today, startup businesses and their public relations departments are far more aware of the need to maintain their brand on social media. One person who is happy may tell one or two friends and may not share information on social media. However, one unhappy person who has access to social media can derail the best public relations campaign.

4. Sharing news and information

Before social media, a company would have to announce a new employee or special employee award in local newspapers. Today, these same announcements can be easily shared on social media. Customers and potential customers get an opportunity to share this information immediately versus waiting for the newspaper to have an “open slot” to put the news. Social media also allows a startup business to offer discounts for a limited time to encourage new customers to check out their service without the added expense of newspaper, television or radio advertisement.

5. Accessibility and communication

For consumers, social media has allowed them to have greater accessibility and better communication with companies. Whether a customers are seeking information, needs help using a product or simply needs an address, social media can be a helpful tool. Whether this information is available on Facebook, Twitter or by using a website’s live chat option, they meet the needs of the client immediately.

While some startups may not feel the need to have a social media presence, there is little doubt that social media has an impact on business in general. Customers and potential customers who depend on their tablets and other mobile devices for communication and information are less likely to turn to traditional media to find what they are looking for. The good news is that companies who take the time to implement a social media strategy are often seen as more valuable to consumers.

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