Social Media — Don’t get left behind


In Socialnomics Erik Qualman tells us we don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.  He also tells us the ROI of social media is your business will still exist in five years.  LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and blogs are making tremendous impacts on the water industry and business in general.

Next month the WaterSmart conference is taking place in Las Vegas and we are there Tuesday October 2, from 8 – noon hosting a workshop on social media. The Social Media Workshop will present ideas of how to effectively reach customers and water users through social media. In this hands-on training session, hear examples first-hand from the ValleyCrest social media and blogger team as they share lessons learned and experience with their blog, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. You will learn how to set up accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook—and leave accomplished, ready to promote your business to the social media world with your very own accounts. You will also listen to tips and tricks to creating a strategic social media plan and receive a helpful checklist for establishing that plan for your company. Bring your laptops because this will be a hands on session.

Below is a transcript of a conversation between bloggers Martha Golea, Alan Harris and Richard Restuccia discussing the benefits of social media and the workshop.

Richard – Martha, what are you presenting?

Martha – In the workshop, I’m teaching the Twitter segment. I’ll be covering how to use Twitter to increase your business without added cost, how to write effective tweets, how to build an active community of followers, etc. Also giving you lots of reasons to love Twitter, if you’re not a believer yet.

Richard – Alan, tell us about your experience with LinkedIn, which you’ll be presenting.

Alan - I was an early adopter and have been on LinkedIn since 2006. Yes, that is only 6 years, but in the world of Social Media that is the equivalent of 2 generations or about 70 years. I will be presenting using LinkedIn to build and expand your and your company’s brand in the world of water.

Are you on LinkedIn?

Good. You have joined over 161 Million business people who have at least their basic profile listed – which is about as useful as pinning a business card on a cork board in a local restaurant.

Are you engaged on LinkedIn?

You can (and probably should) be using LinkedIn to promote your Brands. Notice Brands has an “s”. In today’s eWorld your Brands consist of your organization/company and YOU. So who are YOU? Do you have a Brand?

Richard – Why should people be using LinkedIn?

Alan – LinkedIn is THE social media platform for Business people, with over 160 million members.

Richard – I think it’s just for job searches…is that wrong?

Alan – It is so much more than just job searches. For instance there are over 4,000 groups just for water. Groups are where like minded people go to find, share and talk about the latest trends.

Richard – Wow, so how do you use it to reach these users?

Alan – Once your profile is complete you join the water groups relevant to your organization. Once you belong to a group you can start participating in discussions and sharing relevant information from both your organization and from publications.

Richard – I want to come to the class to learn how to do business. “Social” media doesn’t sound very professional.

Martha – Twitter and Facebook are the more social side of social media while LinkedIn and blogs can be more professional, but social doesn’t mean goofing off! Social means starting conversations and sharing resources. It’s all about promoting your expertise in a way that’s more personal and effective than traditional advertising or media.

Alan – It’s like a business conference that does not end and does not have time limitations or requirements. The user is both the teacher and the student.

Richard – Alan, how does sharing information benefit me or my company?

Alan – Sharing relevant information and participating in discussions will help promote you and your organization as a subject matter expert. It also helps spread the message to people who may not know about you, your organization or your web pages.

Alan – All organizations have passive web pages that sit there waiting for someone to visit. LinkedIn and Twitter help drive traffic to those pages.

Martha – I’d say social media can also take the place of a passive web page, if you don’t have one.

Richard – Oh wow…I get it now, you help make the investment in my website more effective.

Martha – You can share the same content on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or your blog that you would share on your web page and people can interact with it. It’s always active. Of course the key point is that you can interact with users. So all of these tools are about making connections.

Richard – How hard is it on Twitter to interact one on one.  I think you send a tweet and it goes to a million people?

Martha – It’s really simple, actually. Yes, your tweets go to all of your followers at once (Do you have a million followers, Richard? I’m jealous.) but if someone responds to a tweet, you can have a conversation with them right there, either through tweets that everyone can see or through direct messages that are private.

Alan – On LinkedIn as you participate more people will start to connect with you and by proxy with your organization. I have added connections from Italy, Ireland, Spain, Canada and several other countries. The more people who know you/your company as a subject matter expert increase the number of positive impressions.

Richard – That’s great Alan, you are international with not much cost. How much does it cost to be on LinkedIn?

Alan – LinkedIn is free for a basic membership. Unless you are a recruiter a basic membership will provide all the features you need to engage with others.

Richard – Alan, what are we going to learn in your session on LinkedIn?

Alan – 1. Build/complete your profile so you look like a subject matter expert.  2. Find/join water groups to participate in discussions as well as post relevant information. 3. Follow companies who are relevant to your organization.

Richard – Martha, what am I going to learn in your class?

Martha – A lot of people think Twitter is just people tweeting “At Starbucks, getting my 3rd Frappuccino of the day!”, so they don’t think it has any value. But it definitely can help you get more business if you do it right.

Martha – I’m going to focus on why you should bother with Twitter, how to write effective tweets, when to tweet, how to create an active community of followers.

Richard- We are also going to have a hands on session for Facebook with how to instructions for using Facebook to maximize your message.  I will also be speaking about how you can start a blog and how your business can benefit from a blog.  I will be sharing my successes and mistakes so you can learn from both.

Richard – What are some positive ways you have seen social media used by the industry?

Martha – Smartscape in Arizona and our local U of A Cooperative Extension office say social media gives them the ability to connect with people they wouldn’t otherwise connect with.  They can tweet about water restrictions or rebates, upcoming events, classes, and hot topics, then direct customers to their website for details.

Martha – On #landscapechat a couple weeks ago, we talked a lot about George Washington Carver, who said “We need to go to where people are…” For him that meant taking agriculture programs to farmers in Alabama in a wagon, for us it means taking the message of water management to our customers through social media. Social media is where our customers are at, so it’s where we need to be.

Richard - A half day seems like a large investment of time but this workshop will have a ton of information. Can I really learn enough or will I have to take follow up classes?

Alan – It will move very fast, but you will gain relevant information. We will also provide you with a short how – to guide to take with you.  After the session if you have questions you will be able to “talk” to us on any of the social media platforms.

Martha – We’ll also be doing a social media scavenger hunt after the workshop so you can practice the skills you’ve just learned.

I look forward to seeing you at the workshop in a few weeks.

Richard Restuccia, Martha Golea, Alan Harris, @h2otrends, @margoH2O, and @h2oMatters

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Richard Restuccia

Richard Restuccia is a water management evangelist. He believes passionately in water efficiency and sees the financial and social benefits far too often to keep a secret. As the Director for Water Management Solutions at ValleyCrest, Richard is our spokesperson at industry events and on the Hill to provide direction and insight on landscape water management best practices. Richard puts his words into action through service on various boards and committees. Currently he serves on the Irrigation Association’s Board of Directors. As a board member, Richard serves in a variety of capacities, including government/public affairs. He is the liaison between the board and its marketing committee on the best ways to promote water efficiency and educate industry professionals on new technologies, products and services. Richard is also a regular contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine.

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