Is Social Media good for business professionals? Uh, Hell Yeah!

Posted on August 3, 2010. Filed under: facebook, Foursquare, Google, LinkedIn, Recruiting, SEO, social media, twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

It seems every day there are articles published about how social media is not good for business professionals. I quickly say to myself, “How on earth can people still think this way”. I can understand that many people don’t understand how social media can benefit them in their careers. However, to summarily dimiss the value is surprising. Allow me to take you through my experience with various platforms for some insight.

LinkedIn

I was an early adopter of LinkedIn back in 2004 and immediately saw the value. Here was a way for me to connect with business professionals and maintain those relationships as an online Rolodex. Given the fact that it was electronic, I was sold! The addition of my profile, I knew I was always promoting myself in the event someone want to find me. Advancements to the site make it extremely valuable. From the groups, answers, companies, jobs and now Twitter integration this site has everything a business professional needs for basic social media interaction.

LinkedIn make recruiting a breeze for those who know how to use it effectively.

Here is an interesting article from the Augusta Chronicle about how LinkedIn Tops Cold Calls by Attracting Calls to You

MySpace

While I was not an early adopter of MySpace, I did see the value from a recruiting angle. I was able to interact with my candidates online and get to know them before having to extend an offer. Candidates could learn about my company, opportunities and see that I was a real person. This was invaluable for the demographic we were recruiting. Alas, MySpace lost out to……

Facebook

Again, I was an early adopter of Facebook because this is where my candidates were hanging out online. I was a user before Facebook opened themselves up to the masses. I obtained a college email address and created a profile. I began “friending” people in the geographies that made sense to my recruiting efforts and shared information about my job. The more I talked about it, the more I found people were interested in learning more. They would refer their friends to me for opportunities. As a result, not only was I getting great candidates to speak with, my company was getting great traffic from a desirable demographic. I maintain many of those relationships some 4 years after joining Facebook.

With the advancement of Facebook groups, I was able to learn a lot about the people and professions I was recruiting. I became a much better Recruiter and valued member to my company because I could communicate with my internal customers in a way no one ever had before. I was becoming a Business Partner vs. a processor of HR activity. This was a huge step for me and the organization.

Just in case you missed it, Facebook just hit 500 million users worldwide

Twitter

Now I have to say, while I was an early adopter, I failed to see the benefit for a long while. My exact words were, “This is the dumbest f*cking site I have ever seen!”. It took about 5 months for me to get it. Once it did, wow was it a great awakening. I was now engaged in a community of like professionals talking, sharing and learning best practices. These professionals were the leaders in the industries I cared about professionally. My learning curve on topics and concepts went through the roof. I was able to bring strategies and concepts from Fortune 100 companies to my company. I was able to talk about the ROI and the impact on people and processes. I was able to make valuable arguments about if we don’t do this how we are going to lose the war for talent because our competitors were going to do these practices. In time, I became a valuable member to my community (offline and online) as a result of the information I could share and it didn’t cost me any money!

Additionally, as I was seeking to purchase new products and services for my recruiting department, I sought out those experts I knew who could help me with my decision making. At the end of the fiscal year, we purchased almost $200k worth of products as a direct result of recommendations from my Twitter contacts and we didn’t have to hire any outside consultants to help us!

It was around this time I met with my now business partner to discuss how he could use social media to for his business and, more importantly, consult with his clients. We talked about many different topics including SEO, SEM, SME and how the companies would benefit from using social media. We developed a mini business plan around this and went after it.

Here is a great article from Brian Solis on how Twitter Helps You Expand Your Social Networks

Foursquare

While in New York for Social Media Week this February, I was introduced to my first location based social media application, Foursquare. At first I said, “Wow this is pretty stupid but I will give it a shot.” A few years earlier, I was introduced to Google Latitude and I failed to see the difference between the two services. I really like Latitude, though I couldn’t get anyone to use it with me. I suspect because most people’s cell phones were not capable of using it. Foursquare is incredible because it allows everyone who uses it to benefit, including business who don’t really use it at all. Foursquare allows users to share their location information to their social network via GPS enabled phones. In doing so, the business gets a testimonial from a user to their community. This is free publicity about them to a large group of people about them. Foursquare’s ability to create partnerships across many different different demographics and allow business the ability to connect with consumers is genius, pure genius. From mayor specials to badges to the internal game, Foursquare is fun and valuable.

Check out this WSJ posting about Getting Customers to ‘Check In’ with Foursquare

The argument that social media is not valuable to businesses needs to be put to rest.


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