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Open for Business: The ups and downs of social media

2013-03-02T23:22:00Z Open for Business: The ups and downs of social mediaGreg Lemon Open for Business Helena Independent Record
March 02, 2013 11:22 pm  • 

It’s ubiquitous. You can participate on your phone, tablet or computer. You can tell people where you’re at, what you’re doing, who your with, how you’re feeling — as if they even care.

Social media has wormed its way into about every corner of our lives for both entertainment and business.

If you own a business and have something to market, whether it’s nail polish or used cars, and you’re not on Facebook, you’re really missing an effective and free marketing tool.

But much of the time spent on Facebook or any other social media outlet is done for pleasure. We connect with old friends and new friends and share photos and witty comments about a variety of things — some safe for work, some intended for friends alone.

We all have either seen personally or read stories about people posting something on Facebook they didn’t intend to share with the whole world. This can be a funny mishap, but it can also be dangerous, as children are getting involved in social media at a young age and don’t fully understanding the world they’re interacting with.

From the business side of things, social media comes in handy in two ways — promotion and research.

If you “like” the Facebook pages of your competitors, for instance, they’ll wind up telling you when they’re having a promotion. It’s also a good way to keep track of what people are saying about your business. Doing a Google search of your business on a regular basis is important research, and often it is some sort of social media site that comes up in the search results.

Social media is also good for researching applicants when you’re looking to fill a job. In the last four years, I haven’t had one serious applicant who I didn’t research on Facebook. Some had public pages, some

didn’t, but with the information so readily available, it would be foolish not to at least do the cursory search.

The social media sword cuts both ways. If you’re looking for a job and want to be taken seriously, but have a Facebook page that’s open to the public and just posted 20 photos of the keg stand you did at last weekend’s party, you’re probably not conveying the image you’d like to.

Everyone in the job market should expect potential employers to Google them. And if you’re smart, you will do the same and know what’s out there before you apply.

Better yet, make your Facebook page and other social media sites work for you. Post content that conveys your professional aspirations and goals. “Like” other pages and websites that demonstrate your thoughtfulness. Repost links to news articles about the industry you’re hoping to work in. Make sure your prospective employer sees you as a professional on social media.

It’s true that social media has changed many things in the business world, but some of the old truths still hold firm: put your best foot forward, know your competition and always be a professional.


Business editor Greg Lemon:

447-4080 or

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