We’re contacted every day by companies who tell us we should hire them to help us gain a competitive advantage and reach new customers through social media. These consultants and vendors say it’s critical for us to have a strong presence on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. because social media is where our customers and potential customers are spending their time and seeking information. It’s an interesting theory, but our experience tells us this isn’t the case.
We use Google search advertising to attract people to our website. We use Google Analytics to monitor our site’s traffic, where our site visitors are located, what pages they view, and how long they stay on them. Twitter is one of several ways we share company news and announcements. We regularly monitor the discussions on several IBM i-related LinkedIn groups and a popular IBM i technical forum so that we can respond if something warrants a comment. And we’ll continue to do all of these things even though it’s a rare day when an NGS customer or potential customer uses any of these media to share a thought about a work-related topic.
We know IT professionals use social media in their personal lives to communicate with and follow family, friends, and groups that share their hobbies, root for the same sports teams, or like the same entertainers and political leaders. But it seems that for most, social media is a private, personal activity that declines or ceases during business hours. That’s understandable since IT professionals spend their days working with sensitive data and proprietary processes their employers and clients don’t want discussed publicly. Regional user group meetings and conferences provide social networking opportunities without the online element. Private, “unsocial” media like email, conference calls, and meetings play the biggest role on a day-to-day basis. To complicate matters further, the largest IBM i discussion groups on LinkedIn prohibit or strongly discourage promotional content.
So how can social media provide value in this environment? We’d like to know what you think. If you’re an IT professional or business software user, please tell us if or how you use social media in your workplace. What types of information would you like to see vendors provide through these outlets and what policies has your company established to govern your use of social media?
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