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Social mediaWhat is Social Media

Social Media is an instrument of communication. Social media allows people and brands to communicate and share information via the web. Like on the radio or in print, the information shared is needed and necessary. Speaking through a professional lens of course.

In Web 2.0 terms, this would be a website that allows others to not just give you information, but interact with you while giving you that information. This interaction can be as simple as asking for your opinions, giving a review or letting you vote on an article. Or it can be more complex as a company recommending their product to you based on the ratings of other people with similar interests. Or, based on previous websites you’ve recently visited. That’s where it gets a little deeper & we’ll save that for another blog post.

Now that we’ve worked through the question, “What is social media”, we can move on to social media websites and what they are all about.

Here are a few examples of social media websites:

YouTube -interact by sharing photos/videos and commenting on user submissions

Facebook – interact by adding friends, commenting on profiles, joining group discussions and creating events

Flickr – interact by sharing photos/videos and commenting on user submissions

Digg – interact by voting for specific articles and leaving comments

Instagram – interact by sharing photos and short videos and leaving comments

LinkedIn – interact with other professionals by connecting, sharing professional links, company information and displaying your experience and digital resume

These websites are not the only social media websites around. There’s dozens more. Any site on the web that invites you to interact with other visitors falls into the definition of social media.

 

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photoHow Conferences and Social Go Hand and Hand

Networking has always been beneficial but it’s even more beneficial now since it consistently changes as quickly as our gadgets do. Each week we have an upgrade to learn and each season a new gadget comes out that “out does” the one we currently own. We’re lucky business cards are still being used, but soon enough, those too will be obsolete. How do I know? Just look at each business card you receive. Almost every card will entail a Twitter handle or a LinkedIn url.

Nowhere is this more visible than at professional conferences. Whether it’s a marketing conference or a blogger conference, social media handles are crucial when one is networking. Social media platforms and one’s presence has quickly become a necessary tool for both the organizers and the attendees.

 

Conferences Go Social

As your conference date quickly approaches, you’ll notice the hosts, speakers and attendees will use any and all networks to spread the word about the event and it’s sponsors. Even attendees will network via social media platforms using the conference hash tag and plan out their week together. They will share their schedule with each other prior to the event and make plans to meet up or attend certain sessions together.

Once the conference is underway, the real potential of LinkedIn and Facebook start to shine. But, neither will outshine Twitter during the event. Conference organizers will tweet out the day’s schedule. Attendees will tweet their every move of the day and party goers will send “shout outs” and “where are yous” to each other via Twitter. Each tweet, of course, entails the event hashtag.

Twitter is a great resource for everybody connected with the conference. Over-use of the hashtag is great for the organizers, especially if it’s trending. The organizers can use tweets as current feedback, if you will, to track what attendees are saying and/or criticizing, allowing them to make adjustments on the fly. Speakers and presenters are able to read feedback about what people responded most to, both positive and negative.

But just as brands can leverage hashtags as discovery tools, attendees can do the same. Attendees usually use the hashtag after the event once they are home. These are great for the organizers to read once the hype is gone and everyone is back in the world of their own normal. Usually good or bad, they will be able to read final opinions on the event overall and make adjustments from there.

Whether before, during or after the event, hashtags make it possible to digitally network. All two people need are a common topic and a common ground to speak of. When there is passion on both ends (professionally speaking), the event takes on a whole new meaning, on a whole new level. And, this is not only what event organizers want, but what they need. Then, when those passionate about the event are social, more than likely they are sharing on more than one platform. This is then, a win, win, win.

 

Yes. Social Works.

In the 80’s, business cards were our only networking tools. Oh yeah, and the office telephone. But if that’s what we only relied on now, then the chance to build rapport or have a conversation ends when the convention hall closes. No one really calls to follow up after a conference anymore. When you’re social, social allows you to stay connected to those for days on end after the end. Maybe even until the next time around a year later. Talking to someone face to face for five minutes, then following up via email the following week may not yield a solid business relationship. But embracing a relationship on social and having consistent conversations about subjects you both believe in will probably secure each person in the other’s memory and a professional bond will form. Easily.

 

Is Your Networking Going Anywhere?

Use of Twitter or LinkedIn as the top choice for networking is a good decision for a professional. It’s likely neither of these platforms are going anywhere, any time soon. And, we all know these tools and more will only get stronger over time. I predict business cards will soon go away and all we will need is a handheld device and a social profile to move forward. Until that day though, be sure to have a card ready that includes your social media presence. Every social media presence, for that matter. It will do your future good.

 

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Twitter Chats

If you have a Twitter account, then more than likely you’ve heard the term “Twitter Chat”. Twitter chats are beneficial to brands and businesses by giving them the opportunity to connect with customers, increase their brand awareness and build a positive reputation and credibility.

Twitter chats consist of Twitter users brought together at a certain day and time to discuss a specific topic. Mostly the topic is regarding a brand and their services and/or products. A designated chat hashtag is used during a twitter cat to separate the conversation form the rest. Most of the time, a brand representative will host the chat or hire a host to run the chat for them. For those interested in running a Twitter chat but need to learn more first, Tweet Reports or Tweet Chat are two good resources that will provide a list of scheduled chats for one to review.

While you do your Twitter research, just follow a Twitter chat and not actively engage. This is often called Lurking, but no harm is done if all your doing is paying attention. Once you start engaging in the conversation, your brand and presence is immediately available for credibility giving those awareness that you exist. Many Twitter chats allow the opportunity for participants to introduce themselves at the beginning of the chat. If you’re participating on behalf of a brand or business, it’s common courtesy to let the other participants know who is behind the tweets.

During the chat, be sure to keep your tweets within 140 characters and bring up several main points you want your audience to know regarding your brand and products/services. Be sure to have your facts straight and share your knowledge and expertise with your audience. It’s important to hold a conversation and build relationships during the chat. Be sure to retweet their tweets regarding your subject and thank them for the shares, tweets and participation. It’s always good to maintain those relationships after the chat is over. If all goes well, you will gain new followers and gain support on your other networks if the individuals are as social as you are.

Now that you know the basics of a Twitter chat, practice your skills by participating in a chat you are interested sometime within the next couple of days. Make sure you are an active participant and it’s about a subject that interests you. More than likely, you’ll enjoy it and learn a few things from your experience as well.

 

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