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What you need to know about tweets, pins and Facebook friends

The business person’s guide to social media – Luddites, be warned: not being online could cost you

Oct 18, 2012

by Robin Schroffel

You may know how to post a Facebook status update and send out a tweet, but does that mean you’re using social media technology to its full potential? According to Jay Palter, principal and chief engagement officer of Jay Palter Social Advisory, expertise in social media is fast becoming an essential tool in business. “Mastering the tools of social media is increasingly a functional job requirement for business leaders,” he explains. And becoming social media savvy can do more than just increase your marketable skill set. “You’re building a personal brand that you will market to employers and clients throughout your working life.” To help you get started we’ve put together this bare-bones beginner’s guide to the social media networks you need to know: what they’re for, why you need them and how to use them.

FACEBOOK
What:
A website that connects friends and family and encourages the sharing of personal content like photos and status updates.
Why: An easy, low-maintenance way to keep up with other people’s lives, interact with them online and build community for brands.
How: Add friends and acquaintances you share personal relationships with, post content, and scroll through the news feed to see what your “friends” are up to.

TWITTER
What:
A micro-blogging and social networking site that allows users to post and exchange “tweets,” or messages of up to 140 characters.
Why: Encourages communication and dialogue between friends, colleagues and strangers.
How: “Follow” people you find interesting, tweet out your own messages and use hash tags– the pound sign – to mark keywords for search purposes.

LINKEDIN
What:
A business-oriented social network that connects colleagues and co-workers.
Why: Facilitates professional networking, job offers and headhunting.
How: Create a resumé-style profile, connect with peers and ask for recommendations from those you’ve worked with.

GOOGLE+
What:
An amalgamation of several Google services that includes friendship organization, video chat and a reader that brings you content based on your interests.
Why: It’s everything in one place. If you’re an existing user of any Google products such as Gmail or Google Docs, it integrates it all seamlessly.
How: Sign up. Google+ is far and away the most complicated social network to navigate, but the learning curve is fairly easy.

PINTEREST
What:
A content sharing website that gives users a virtual pinboard to collect, categorize and share visual content.
Why: Find inspiration, organize it, and share your interests – or your brand – with other users.
How: Create boards and post original content, or “pin” content found online with the “pin-it” bookmark.

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The Essentials

Mercedes-Benz Mbrace2 system
Unveiled earlier this year in its SL-class vehicles, the Mercedes Benz Mbrace2 system allows drivers to do everything from keep track of who’s driving – and how they’re treating the car – to unlocking their vehicle’s doors using their smart phone. It also allows them to access their social media networks while driving, including a feature that makes it possible to post to Facebook simply by speaking. However, only certain features, such as status updates, places, friends and events, are available while the car is actually in gear.
US$280 per year for the basic Mbrace package, with options to upgrade

Introduction to Social Media online course
Social networking seems a lot less daunting with this course from Mediabistro. Over the course of four interactive online sessions, you’ll learn how to use social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+ not only for fun but to advance your career and develop your personal brand. Lectures, homework, and a weekly live chat discussion ensure you’ll get the most out of this month-long course.
US$350; mediabistro.com

Hootsuite
If you’ve got multiple social media accounts on the go and are finding them frustrating to keep up with, it’s probably time you downloaded HootSuite. The social media management dashboard allows users to simultaneously access multiple profiles on different networks, schedule tweets in advance, track mentions, and analyze traffic all from one convenient dashboard on your computer or mobile device.
Basic account, free; pro account, US$9.99 per month; hootsuite.com

SmartBrief on Social Media newsletter
Keep up with the social media industry by subscribing to this free daily email newsletter, which rounds up essential stories, news and tips from thousands of websites and sends them out in this distilled and curated format. Stories are summarized by editors to save time, and linked to in full.
Free; smartbrief.com/socialmedia

Klout
Ever wonder exactly how much impact all your tweeting and Facebooking is having? Find out by signing up for Klout, a social media service that measures influence across the web. Link your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ accounts to find out your Klout score (40 is average), find out how many people you influence, and what topics you’re considered influential about.
Free; klout.com

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