social mediaEveryone knows (or at least they should) the value of using social media to market themselves, but social media can wear an abundance of hats and do a bunch of different jobs for your business. social media is great for getting the word, but what that word is might change frequently. Maybe you need a good employee in a specific field, a business lead, a partner, a resource, a reference; whatever it is your company needs, the chances are you can find it with a social media tool.

Start with a plan

Some companies develop their social media strategy through a gradual evolution – a few employees begin blogging, others join Facebook and the marketing rep starts sending out updates through Twitter.

Although that can work occasionally, it is more effective to sit down and map out a plan about what sites will be used, who will be doing the updating, and how often tweets or Facebook postings will be sent, said Bob Brin, head of interactive at the Minneapolis public relations firm Padilla Speer Beardsley.

“No one can focus on all social media channels at once,” he says, and advises that companies initially assess where competitors or customers visit, what types of online conversations seem best to join and what type of tools are already being used by employees.

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social mediaOk, so it’s not actually your hotel, but it sure feels like home when you check in and finally collapse in a heap on the bed. Since hotels are a home-away-from-home for so many business travelers, why do they seem so ignorant of the value of social media? Travel sites have been rating them and crowdsourcing everything from reviews to actual photos of what they hotels truly look like when a guest checks in. How have hotels responded to this social media scrutiny? mostly with a collective shrug of their shoulders, that’s how.
But don’t take my word for it, ask

The one problem with hotels is some managers, interested in the quick-buck for the moment, either don’t see or want to see the value of this approach. They generally want to know that your efforts are going to cause a hotel room sale the next day, when that’s not how the marketing dynamic works.

What hotel people must understand is that the blogger is laying a platform online that’s a lot like a billboard: you know there are a lot of people who can see it, you just have to make sure it’s up and well-positioned so they can. Over time, the idea of using the hotel is placed in the head of the consumer.

It’s up to the hotel to know how to track their exposure, or ask the blogger to set up a system for them to do so. One way is to make sure the hotel mangers sign up for Google Alerts, an app that sends an email of all of the blogs and stories that have the hotels keywords of concern pop-up. A good marketing effort can make a hotel’s Google Alerts pop and ping like a pinball machine.

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Social Media may or may not be the answer to the future of business collaboration. Some see it as the solution to distance. Global partners can communicate via social media in the blink of an eye. For business-to-business sale,s social media has brought people together who might never have shared the same continent much less the same room. But still, not everyone sees social media as the panacea of business. There are still many hold outs who view it as a major time-waster and the end of collaboration as we know it. (But would that ‘end’ be a bad thing?)

To that end, these companies have begun piling social networking functionality on top of applications that initially were built for managing back-end business activities such as tracking the movement of goods across a supply chain.

The vendors are selling this new functionality as a way of improving communication and collaboration across an enterprise.

The ability to communicate and collaborate effectively is essential to the running of a successful business, but I’m not sure that social networking technology — particularly in the form that vendors are currently presenting it — offers the best approach for improving business collaboration.

Many of these vendors are asking corporations to make significant investments in applications that do little more than mimic Facebook.

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