Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Navigating the mysteries of social media networking

My younger cousin Charlie, who's 14, knows how to use social media for fun. He posts on Facebook to tell me and his some 70 friends when he's tired, hungry or enjoying his breakfast of sausage, onions and peppers.

I -- like many of you -- use it for business. I'm one of many people who believe that the possibilities for social media and business are mind-boggling, especially since the next generation is all about social media. In addition to Facebook, there's LinkedIn and Twitter as major players and dozens more minor players.

A new report shows that LinkedIn, a kind of an online resume, is growing rapidly. See Tanette Johhnson-Elie's commentary for figures and check out this YouTube video reminding us that by 2010 Generation Y will outnumber Baby Boomers and 96 percent of them have joined a social media group:

However, the phenomenon is still so bran-spankin' new that most of us are still experimenting with its possibilities and what's the best return on investment.

The Small Business Development Center Network at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside sponsored the first of three classes Wednesday on social media and its amazing potential value to business.

Here are the highlights:

Social media is geared for encouraging conversation and building business relationships rather than actual direct selling.

Know your goals on why you are using social media, what you hope to accomplish and how it is part of your business plan.

Decide how you will commit time and resources to social media.

Ask who is your audience and what social media platform is the best route to your audience.

Determine what added value can you give your network that people can't get anywhere else.

Meanwhile, find me on Twitter.

Become a fan at Lake House's Facebook page.

There are two more programs in this three-part series for SBDC. For more info, click this link.

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