You Need to Be Human in This Digital World Like it or not, social media has become an important tool for successful businesses. Here’s a closer look at each platform and why you should consider using it to market your company’s services.By Heather L. Sidorowicz Published: May 21, 2015 ⋅ Updated: April 15, 2019 Illustration: ThinkStock Like it or not, social media is a way of life and has become an important tool for successful businesses. According to research by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 93 percent of the Inc. 500 companies say that they use at least one social media platform or tool. While you may think this form of marketing is too time-consuming, I’m here to tell you it is not and that there is much to gain in today’s world. The top three top platforms used by the Inc. 500 companies are: • LinkedIn (94%)• Facebook (80%)• Twitter (79%) Here’s a closer look at each platform and why you should consider using it to market yourself and your company’s services. LinkedIn: Think of LinkedIn as a living resume. If you don’t want to do what you are doing today for the rest of your life, I suggest keeping your profile up to date. Use it to look people up, such as learning more about potential clients and business associates. You never know what you might find out to help you close a deal. For your company, participation in this platform can give you legitimacy. I admit, for the company, I do not use LinkedIn to its fullest extent, but I do use it for my professional brand. If you blog on your site, share it here. LinkedIn Publishing is a place to publish content through their platform to establish your business. Mindshare with others in the industry, manufactures, and your clients. Joining LinkedIn groups (such as the “Residential Systems” one curated by editorial director Jeremy Glowacki or the “CEDIA” group) can also help establish you as an expert and allow you to learn more about the industry. If you are a newer company, this can be a great place to grow and network with industry colleagues facing similar business challenges. Facebook: The great thing about Facebook was that you could grow an organic following (and pay nothing) from your clients. Today that is changing. A report published earlier this year by researchers at Ogilvy (a PR firm) showed that Facebooks proprietary algorithm reach has declined to around 6 percent. Why? Well, because they want you to pay for ads of course! It was a brilliant plan. They let you get all of these followers and now you can’t talk to them unless you show Facebook the money. The brilliance in these ads is how they appear on one’s wall, just like posts from friends. You may not even realize they are “sponsored.” If you are looking to grow your business and stay personal, Facebook is a great way to make sure you are noticed. Facebook’s other great advantage is in its simplicity. Finish up a great room? Snap a picture and post it to your page in less than a minute. Who doesn’t have that time in their schedule for that? Twitter: Twitter for business is tough. Twitter to promote “you” as a brand is another story. Larger companies, such as airlines and cable, and internet providers, have had seen significant benefits from handling customer service via social media. Satisfaction goes up because you’re given the illusion of dealing one on one and knowing that the remarks are public. The great part about Twitter is connecting with people you would otherwise never meet. I have developed deeper bonds with some great people in this industry after first connecting with them on Twitter. Rumor has it that CEDIA will be bringing back CEDIA Tweeps this year where you enter to be a social media voice in exchange for free room and board at the EXPO. I can’t recommend that experience enough. There are other players in town like Houzz (think of Pinterest for your home), Pinterest, Instagram, and more. If you are looking for the next big one, ask your teenager what they are using. Being social with media does not need to take a lot of time. However, you do need to be consistent, interactive, and creative. If you are only going to post once a month, then don’t bother. You need to be human in this digital world and engage your followers. Ask them questions and comment on what they say. As for the creativity, remember to think outside the box. Find unique ways to capture the public’s attention. One thing is for sure, social media is here to stay, so jump in and get used to the waters. What social media has worked for you? Tell me in the comments section below. Heather L. Sidorowicz is the president of Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.