Oprah is on Twitter (along with Aquatics International), and so is Ashton Kutcher. With all this attention on social networking, is it finally time for you to jump in?
The question everyone is asking, especially in this environment of
budget cuts and fiscal restraint, is: “Is it right for
But the real question is, why wouldn’t it be? Everyone who
interacts with the public, employees or vendors should cultivate a
The best way to look at social media is very un-tech. In these
times, more then ever, people are getting back to basics. Your
employees and customers want to get to know you and be able to
relate to you. What’s
important now is your ability to tell a story, be real and develop
relationships. Everything we do is about relationships, whether
it’s at home or work, with employees or customers. The way to
view the entire “Web 2.0” is to see it as a new way to
help you connect.
So what are some ways to get started if you haven’t taken the
plunge with social media? And how aboutsome tips for those who are
looking to freshen their presence?
Here’s one simple exercise to see if social networks are for
you. Open up accounts in Facebook and LinkedIn. Both of them have tools that allow
you to upload your address book. Upload your address book and see
how many of your contacts are on each of the respective
If it’s less than 10 or 20 percent, it probably isn’t a
good investment, but if you have 40 to 50 percent or more, it will
probably yield a wonderful return.
So if you’re ready to dive into the brave new world of social
media, here are a few simple ideas to get started. (And the sites
1. Facebook is
your friend. Currently, it is one of the easiest entry
points to social media. Facebook says it added its 200 millionth
user on April 8, 2009. More than half its users return daily. There
is a good chance that you, your customers and your employees are
all on it.
One of the newest offerings is Facebook Fan Pages. A fan page is
set up similar to any other page or public profile on Facebook.
When fans join, visit or interact with the page, a link shows up on
their timeline and all their friends are informed. It’s a
great and simple way to share news, update members and promote
2. Start following Twitter. No doubt, it has valuable use as an
information aggregator, but it’s also static in that you will
only see the information being passed around if you are currently
online and viewing.
If you check only a few times a day, it can sometimes be difficult
to keep up with the quantity of information that is being
And because the site limits “tweets” to 140 characters
(including spaces) brevity is a key on Twitter. Think of it as a
That said, you’d be surprised what you can squeeze into that
amount of space — message, links, even photos. Plus, the
network offers an unprecedented level of connectivity. Tweeters
have followers, who can be
surprisingly loyal and responsive.
3. Get found on Google Maps. This is the intersection of two
important trends. The first trend is that people will Google
something before they open up a phone book.
The second trend is about your presence online. Let’s face
it: Most of us do not need a worldwide presence. Often, we
don’t even need a statewide presence. Google Maps lets
businesses add their own listings, so when people Google
“Lifeguards in Montana,” your business can come up. In
addition to a simple listing, you can post reviews, pictures and
4. Link up with LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a network dedicated to
developing professional networks. LinkedIn is designed more for
college and post-college professionals, so users go here generally
to connect with other professionals in their fields.
The site offers groups, discussions and a variety of other ways to
stay connected to your professional network.
5. Network with other pros on AI
Connect. AI Connect, from Aquatics
International, is one of the newest social networking sites
available to aquatics professionals. It is unique in that it is
for, by and about aquatics pros. It’s free to sign up and
members have access to all the site’s tools, including
discussion forums, blogs, events and groups. This can be a great
place to exchange ideas with your aquatics peers, get technical
advice or just catch up.
The site also lets users upload videos and photos, as long as they
remain within the community guidelines. Users can catch up on the
latest industry news and connect with Aquatics
International’s educational offerings and experts.