First, I must expose my lack of use of social media broadly. I have a twitter account which I set up four years ago but I do not tweet. Second, I do not have a Facebook account so I do not know who that “David Byrd” you have been corresponding with is. Third, I do have a LinkedIn account which I actively monitor. I do not actively invite anyone to join me on LinkedIn but I accept invitations from everyone I know, friends, colleagues and partners. Two weeks ago, I accepted an invitation from a college friend that I had not heard from in 26 years. It was enlightening to learn she was also in telecommunications. It also generated pleasant memories of a more youthful past, though that is not necessarily “business relevance”.
A recent poll conducted by Light Reading of our industry’s use of social media pointed out some interesting things. LinkedIn is our preferred social media platform for business. Half of the companies represented in the survey have someone on staff that maintains their social media presence. Broadvox has such a person managing our social media presence and in fact on Twitter we proudly have 869 followers. It has been a useful way to communicate with our VAR partners and while we have good many positive responses, it has also been a way for VARs to communicate where we need to improve. We respond to problems communicated via Twitter immediately given the public nature for the posting. However, to date, we have seen this form of social media as a positive. It improves our communications with our partners as post new product information, hires or organization changes. It also has impacted our business process when we have been advised of and agree to a better way of conducting business.
Without a doubt we could and probably should improve Broadvox’s presence on LinkedIn. Yet, it is LinkedIn that I find most useful of the various forms of social media for business. While we explore the marketing aspect of the site and continue to determine whether being an expert on line actually generates sales, we do see the value in maintaining accurate profiles. Using the profile information, I have been able to better prepare for meetings, conference calls and events by getting professional background information in advance. This has led me to engaging with someone about going to the same college, living in the same town or city, or even having a common friend or colleague. Normally, in advance of any important interaction, I Google the person and usually a LinkedIn presence is identified. In fact, during the acquisition of Cypress Communications, it was through the use of LinkedIn that I was able to profile around 60-70% of the company allowing me to better understand their current and past roles.
While Facebook clearly is a more active social media site, according to Light Reading's 2011 Social Networking Survey only about 1-2% of respondents use it for professional purposes. LinkedIn is how professionals network.
So, take the time to join, send me an invite and become social.
BTW, if you are in the Dallas office today, I am sharing my Smoked Vanilla Ice Cream with Maple Candied Bacon. Stop by for a taste.