Social Media platforms are a bit like Marmite; you either love them or hate them! Either way, they are here to stay and they are being used more and more in people’s professional lives and can be very effective in networking with business colleagues, customers and prospective customers.
The objective of this article is to summarise the different tools available and how they could be used effectively.
Linkedin is an online business networking tool which profiles your professional life. You can set up and manage your own profile, providing overviews of your career stages, specialism areas and achievements. Linkedin allows you to connect with colleagues past and present, business colleagues, friends, relatives and associates giving you the opportunity to network, share information and develop business opportunities. Businesses can set up company pages, a satellite or more dynamic website showcasing their products and services. People can recommend individuals, company services or products – these testimonials are invaluable in helping promote future business. Linkedin is growing in size daily and is being used increasingly by a wide range of industries worldwide as a leading business tool.
Facebook has traditionally being seen more as a social networking tool and many people use this personally to connect with family and friends and share information of their lives, holiday photographs and plan night’s out and prefer to keep their personal and professional lives separate i.e. not have colleagues as a friend online. Businesses are using Facebook more and more to create pages and groups promoting their product and service and interacting with customers. Facebook is an invaluable source of information and has been considered by many online experts as one of the leading search engines available.
Twitter is a real time social media tool that allows people to broadcast a statement (also known as a Tweet) up to 140 characters out to the world. People follow people based on their interests; socially, professionally or geographically. Twitter is so up to date that often news is broken through this media before it even makes it onto the news online and is used as a commentary to current affairs. Links can be made to websites or other social media tools and the use of hashtags aid with searching for information on your chosen subject. Businesses are using Twitter to interact with their customers or as a research tool to find out what people are thinking and looking for.
YouTube is the online channel for viewing videos and clips on almost every subject you could possibly think of. Businesses upload their company presentations, videos and help guides as a way of promoting themselves and positioning their company as experts in their industry area.
Many businesses will have policies within their company handbook on appropriate use of social media tools by employees; it is worth reviewing these and ensuring you stick to the guidelines set out. Inappropriate use of social media has been the reason for some employees going through disciplinary proceedings. The main rule of thumb is to behave online as professionally as you would in a face to face situation.