This can either be a great tool for companies or a complete waste of time and energy. I’ve been using social media for years and I know what fits for my company and what doesn’t. I’ve spent time thinking strategically about how I can leverage components of it and what not to use it for, too.
First order of business? Get on Facebook. It may seem daunting at first, but you’ll figure it out, trust me! If you don’t figure it out, it’ll figure itself out for you. Just don’t get sucked into all the stupid stuff with it. Put your business profile on Facebook and people will start finding you and linking to you, and all of a sudden you’ll realize that people are learning more about what you do and remembering more about what you do because of this social networking tool. Don’t bother wasting time with all the silly stuff meant for teenagers – think of Facebook as a resume, except an interactive, colorful one. Ensure it shows the best side of you, but more importantly, the real you. Start focusing your time on adding all the friends and business associates you know. If you start with that, and reading the messages people put up, you’ll get the hang out of it. If it makes sense for your company (it doesn’t for most) then get someone in marketing or sales to set up and manage a “Fan Page” for your company.
LinkedIn is the same thing as an online resume. Get on there, too! It’s the new way that people are networking. I’ve been on LinkedIn for close to 10 years now. People aren’t going to Board of Trade events to meet each other anymore. They are way over that. It’s a waste of time. I don’t have time to go down to a Board of Trade, pay for parking, walk in, talk to bunch of suits, come back out and realize I’ve got all these business cards to type up. Eeeeew! The new economy doesn’t work that way. You’ll meet a lot more people using the technology that’s out there online, and free. You won’t build the one-on-one relationships using Facebook and LinkedIn but you will identify potentially useful connections faster, and set-up time to interact outside of LinkedIn. Set up your entire profile so that others can find you easily. When you or your team are hiring people check out their profiles on both Facebook and LinkedIn, too. You’ll learn a lot about them.
I’ve been using Twitter since early 2008, and rank in the top 2,500 people in the world to follow. Follow @cameronherold and you’ll learn a ton about how to use the site for marketing and customer service. And there are even tools now that allow you to use Twitter in private spaces, one of which is called “Yammer.” Set up Yammer and you can “tweet” inside your own company privately and have the same interaction you would on Twitter—just within your own parameters.
I’ve started using Twitter as my note-taking tool while at conferences. It allows me to multi task: I share with the people following me while reminding myself of the important points in a presentation. I type each idea or thought from a conference into Twitter. And at the end of the day, I simply copy and paste all of my tweets into a Word Doc.
Jump in. It’s easier than you think.
For more information on this topic, check out: Generating Free PR.