Social Networks and the Communications Shift
You better hop on the social train or be left behind.
As I write this article I am attending the Society of Communications Technology Consultants Annual conference in Atlanta. Our keynote speaker was social media expert Crystal Washington. She gave us great information and tips on using LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Google Alerts. It got me thinking how well do we all do with social networks, and do we really know how to use them to our advantage?
If we are going to spend time on social media it needs to be very strategic. We need to be able to measure, to see results, and it needs to be practical. This allows all of us to get better use out of it with our existing clients and provides better visibility into the people who are searching for information about our company or services.
Over the last few years I have seen more people use their smartphone for social media than actually use their computers. How many of us have noticed how social media has really shifted the way we communicate in the world? Have you all seen the shift?
Here are a few of the shifts taking place that I've observed:
- Very young people (one to four years old) can pick up a smartphone or iPad and know how to use it. They can even show Grandpa how to use it! My two-year-old granddaughter can pick up my phone, scroll until she finds the icon of the game she wants to play, and go at it without any intervention on my part. At a very young age this is second nature to them.
- We can all take videos and pictures now so quickly. one development to come out of this is that news media outlets no longer have to work so hard to come up with news. They are letting the consumer do the work for them, asking viewers to send in pictures or videos of tornados or any story that is newsworthy. CNN calls those folks "iReporters" for them.
- We have become addicted to our smartphones. I know that I, for one, have my smartphone on my nightstand and use it as an alarm clock. We are more connected to technology than ever before, and none of us want to think what would happen if we lost our phones.
- We reach for Google to ask a question when there is an argument at the table on a certain fact or two. We have instant access to any information we need, at any time, for any topic.
Washington's advice to us was to pick one or two social networks and become very good at them. My two picks would be LinkedIn and Twitter. I believe all businesses should be on LinkedIn at a minimum.
One stat Washington shared with me is that over 90% of buyers are searching on line for a product or doing their research before a purchase. The bigger the purchase, the more time people spend researching. Not too long ago people went to your company website to check out the business and its products. If you did not have a website, you potentially lost business. Now if you don't have a LinkedIn profile you will be missing out on lots of business. Your LinkedIn profile allows others to see that you are legitimate, that you are a speaker, or a CIO, etc.
Twitter is also good for a number of reasons. It is the number one place to connect with the media. If you need to get a press release out or communicate to the media outlets regarding an upcoming event at your company, you can tweet directly to the news station. Twitter also offers real-time information and updates as they are happening.
With Twitter you should be following the companies you are interested in to keep up to date on offerings and stay competitive in the marketplace.Getting Found with SEO
So how do you get found online? Right now LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Google Plus are very good social networks. Have your business presence on Google Plus because it is very good for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and getting you noticed.
Google is clearly the largest search engine, and owns the second largest, YouTube. Further, Google gives preference to YouTube content. It is 50 times easier to get a video placed on the first or second page of Google search results. If you are trying to get found online, YouTube videos are a good way to do it. You can do mini commercials; show your new products; whatever you want to get "out there" to the world.
You want to aware of where you are putting keywords. LinkedIn offers a search box, but people won't find you if you don't put in the right keywords. Put keywords in the summary section and company profile of LinkedIn. Also, put keywords in your header line on LinkedIn. Put your email address or phone number on your header line. You are saving people time in finding you. You should also put your keywords in the Summary section of LinkedIn. Google uses a crawler to look for keywords, so it takes about two days to get on its search engine, but LinkedIn happens immediately.Google Alerts: Best for Research
A free service is Google Alerts. Its purpose is that it sends you an email when someone mentions a term or keywords you are following online. For example, whenever your company name is mentioned online, you can set it up to get an alert so you can track what people are saying about your company. You might find out that a customer of yours is expanding, which could mean more business for you.
Use social media as long as it makes you more efficient, effective, and connected but lean on the things that have been working. Don't forget about the old fashion way of communicating prior to this shift. Handwritten notes are still very much accepted, and phone calls remain an effective way to stay in touch.
"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communication technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.