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Deb Neuman Deb Neuman
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It's time to get with the (social media) program!

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I recently presented a social media workshop to a group of employees representing their organizations who were there to learn new ways to market their respective work places. I was taken aback when I asked the group to raise their hands if their organizations were using social media as a means to communicate their activities and only a few of the 30 or so in attendance raised their hands. What a missed opportunity! Then one of the attendees remarked, 'My employer wants us to start a Facebook page for our organization but we're prohibited from using Facebook at work.' Do you see the contradiction here?

It boggles my mind that there still exists reluctance among employers to use social media for the purpose of promoting and communicating information about their organizations. It frustrates me because they're missing an opportunity to engage, market, tell their story and become viewed as experts in their field. I realize in many cases this is a generational issue. But the world is changing, and if you aren't at least trying to keep up, you're only hurting yourself.

Don't believe me? According to 'The Social Media Revolution 2012' (YouTube):

  • Facebook tops GOOGLE for weekly traffic in the US
  • YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world
  • If Wikipedia were made into a book, it would be 2.25 million pages long and take you 123 years to read
  • 90 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations only 14 percent trust advertisements
  • 93 percent of marketers use social media for business

Here are some additional Facebook stats that might surprise you (source - Facebook.com)

~Facebook had 1 billion monthly active users as of October 2012~Approximately 81 percent of monthly active users are outside the U.S. and Canada~552 million daily active users on average in June 2012 ~600 million monthly active users used Facebook mobile products in September 2012

If you still think social media is a time waster and just for kids, think again! Users aged 18-24 constitute the largest single age demographic on Facebook, but the 65+ crowd was the largest growing segment at a whopping 124 percent (source - SocialBakers.com).

In today's world, if you're not present on social media sites you don't exist! Take a look around at your competition and organizations similar to yours. Chances are when you go to their web sites you'll see icons for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and more. Look at the ways they're using these platforms to tell their stories and communicate with their constituents. There are many great examples out there.

Social media is a great way to communicate what is happening in your business or organization right now! You can alert your followers about information they need to know immediately. Many organizations use YouTube to create informational videos. Blogs are a great way to share information and build credibility for your organization. These can all be shared through Facebook and Twitter and result in you reaching a worldwide audience. If you're interested in recruiting and attracting employees to your business, I guarantee many will be checking you out via social media sites before or instead of going to your website. If you're not there, you may be viewed as a workplace culture that is not engaged, innovative or current with the times - and that will turn off a lot of potentially good employees.

I don't have enough room in this column to talk about how to use and not to use social media for your business or organization. For now the message is, if you're still reluctant to use it don't be! If you're worried about how to do it, don't let that hold you back. Step one is deciding to do it.

One final note: Prohibiting your employees from using Facebook and other social media sites at work is short sighted and counterproductive. First of all, many employees own smart phones and can access these sites from work anyway. Secondly, employees may find great information they can use in the workplace to do their jobs better. Third - an employee who is going to 'waste time' is going to waste time regardless. Social media is not the problem. If you're still concerned about the use of social media in your workplace, you can adopt social media policies. But prohibiting it all together is only hurting your organization.

If you're an employee who is trying to convince your employer to get with the social media program, feel free to cut this column out and hand it to him or her. If that doesn't work, have them message me via Facebook er, rather, tell them to call me!

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