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|On the Scene|
|Thursday, July 29, 2010|
BY EMMA HALL
Four panel members from very different social media backgrounds, ranging from one whose company blocks social media unless approved by management to one who counsels businesses on avoiding lawsuits stemming from social media, came together to discuss how social media is rapidly changing the business world.
The panel was moderated by Jim Robison of EasyStreet. The four panel members were Kent Lewis, president of Anvil Media, Dave Weber, CIO of NW Natural, Bryan Rhodes, senior digital strategist at Intel and Ted Karr, partner at Berkeley Law & Technology Group. The panel discussed the ways that social media can both help and hinder businesses. Most businesses are now aware that they can use Twitter or Facebook as marketing tools, but might still be unaware that social media has a myriad of other uses.
"Marketing isn't the No. 1 reason to be on social media, [it's] because it provides you the world's largest focus group," said Lewis. If you are considering using social media for your company, you should first consider why you want to do it. Look at your competitors' use of social media and see what they are doing. An example given of a company with a great social media presence is Comcast, with their Comcast Cares program. They put their best tech support people on Twitter to answer customers questions or concerns.
Twitter: A main reason for using Twitter is to provide customer service. "Every company should have evangelists representing your company on Twitter," said Lewis. Twitter gives your company the opportunity to say "we're here, we're responsive, we're not just this monolithic brand," said Rhodes. Also, in customer service response time is everything. Twitter allows you to give instantaneous support. In this way, you can turn customer service into marketing. (Hint: Use programs like Google alerts, Social Mention, or TweetBeep to track mentions of your company on Twitter and respond to them.)
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the best online tool for business to business marketing, which goes further than just putting your resume online and "connecting" with coworkers. You can answer questions on the Answers message boards to become the leader in a topic. That way, when someone looks at a specific topic (for example corporate law or business development) they see that you are a leader in that area, and then they have the opportunity to contact you for work relating to that topic.
Emma Hall is web editor for Oregon Business.
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