Social Media: Why you should consider a professional presence online

Social Media“We live in a social media era!” seems to be phrase that we hear almost daily. Whether it is at home with family and friends or in the office with fellow employees, our lives are constantly touched by the ever-evolving winds of technology, with social media being at the forefront.  Employers and employees alike have started to adapt social media as a business tool to promote themselves and create additional mediums to remain constantly connected to clients and colleagues.

How are you using social media to your advantage?  Do you use it as a basis for sharing vacation photos or reconnecting with friends from high school?  Are you using Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn as networking tools to connect with your colleagues and client audiences?  Have you tapped into the unrealized potential that social media has for growing your professional image or extending your reach beyond traditional mediums?

Easily reconnect with friends and colleagues alike

Before the advent of social media, compiled with a busy work and home life, reconnecting with old friends from school or former colleagues could be inconvenient and difficult.  With the creation of sites like Facebook and Twitter, not only has ease of use improved, but the variety of ways to reach a person – via message, a comment, or Tweet – has multiplied as well.  What used to take a phone call or a face-to-face meeting can now be achieved with a tap of a smart phone screen or click of a mouse.  Reestablishing and maintaining those relationships through a social media platform, regardless of physical distance or time constraints, can keep your extended network alive and thriving.  The more platforms you employ, the easier it will be to garner and grow the relationships that mean the most to you.

Create an online presence for customer interaction and information

The Internet has become the television of the 21st century.  Prior to the internet, a company would rely on word of mouth, a ‘brick-and-mortar’ presence, or television exposure to educate a target audience about a product or service. Today’s fast-paced consumer is becoming accustomed to processing information with the least amount of effort or inconvenience; they want information now.  Consequently, more and more users are searching for ‘on-the-go’ information about products and services from their smart phones.  According to Facebook, as of January 1, 2014, there were 1.31 billion monthly active Facebook users, spending a total of 640 million minutes on Facebook per month.  That is a prodigious opportunity for a company or individual to promote itself.  Providing an additional source of information about product updates, service launches, and industry news can further increase the level of engagement a company has with its customers.  As Stephanie Chandler of Forbes articulates, “with consistent effort and great content, you can build a reputation for your brand around your company’s values, benefits, and advantages.”

Create and promote your online brand

When learning more about a company, solely relying on its website or on word of mouth is like dipping a toe into the proverbial ocean of information; you only get a small taste of what is available to you. Many consumers today are taking a wider view of how an organization is establishing a dynamic relationship with its target audience and, additionally, finding opportunities for interaction. Daniel Rusling, in a post about social media marketing, writes, “Some of the world’s ardent organizations like UNICEF and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) have been actively harnessing social media platforms to connect, inform, educate and empower large audiences.”  Similarly, individuals have taken to sites like LinkedIn to promote themselves on a professional level.  Such sites allow users to easily connect with colleagues as well as provide exposure to companies with an online hiring presence.

Create and develop a blog

One of the tools that professionals have consistently employed, along with a website, is an actively updated blog.  A blog acts as a live entity that is constantly evolving and taking shape as more information is added.  If a ‘brick-and-mortar’ storefront is a tangible arena for an interested customer to seek knowledge about a company or industry, the blog has become the online platform to do just that without having to leave your home.  Additionally, it provides a company with more freedom to educate its target consumer base about information not readily available on its website.  As Stephanie Chandler notes in an article from Forbes, “share great content, answer questions, and serve your audience, and you will inevitably build loyal fans.”  Being able to read about specific topics, comment on them and learn what others have said only increases social media’s value.

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