FOR many of us, social media is something we are told to get involved with, rather than an automatic instinct as it is for many of the younger generation.

At the Somerset Chamber we have a Twitter account (@chambersomerset), a Somerset Chamber group on LinkedIn, and each of us has our own accounts on both platforms, helping us to communicate with as many Somerset businesses as possible.

We use these social media platforms to maintain relationships and get our Chamber messages out to the wider world, and on the whole we find that social media works well for us as a business communication tool.

We think we have interesting things to say, quality events to promote and new members to make feel welcome. All sounds very positive – but my personal worry, or it was until the first week of May, was that it was, in fact, very impersonal.

However, on May 2 I celebrated eight years as CEO of the Somerset Chamber and on May 4 I celebrated another pretty insignificant birthday.

Many of my ‘followers’ (sounds too evangelical to me) on LinkedIn chose to recognise one or both of the anniversaries in a very warm and genuine manner.

It was most heart-warming to hear from people who I know providing me with a range of goodwill messages.

There was no intention to sell me anything on the back of the intervention or get something in return – they just wanted to say Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary and make me feel good!

This suggests to me that social media platforms like LinkedIn, with their ‘not very British’ methodology of asking you to upload every minute personal detail, should not be feared by oldies like me.

The opportunity to develop and maintain business relationships in an informal way, just as I would face-to-face but via a computer or phone, is to be embraced as one of the contemporary ways we should keep in touch and communicate for mutual advantage. Why not come and say hello? @rupert_scoc *The Somerset Chamber of Commerce represents and works collaboratively with the Somerset business community to encourage strong, sustainable and creative alliances that promote members’ businesses, raise the profile of the county, and help to lobby for greater influence for Somerset at all levels of government.