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Thanks to technology, it really is a small world after all.
“Small” as in über-connected. At first, ARPANET-based email developments and then Tim Berners-Lee’s hypertext breakthroughs made it possible to reach virtually any information or person with a machine and a mouse. Social media has further elevated this phenomenon – for both businesses and consumers. At a recent Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) social media committee’s event, “Breaking Down Borders: How Social Media is Shrinking the Globe,” two terrific speakers on the front lines revealed great insights about maximizing the advantages of social media to expand far, far beyond the U.S. Here are some of the highlights:
Baby steps. At first, social media can appear like an intimidating, complex beast that needs to be tamed. But it doesn’t have to be. Businesses that are just getting started are best advised to start slowly and then make incremental movement forward, according to speaker Francis Hopkins (@francishopkins), director of corporate communications for the U.S.-based operations of Huawei Technologies, one of the largest telecommunications vendors in the world. The first step, Hopkins indicated, is to arrange for employees to agree to social media policy guidelines. Then, try your hand at re-tweeting posts from the company Twitter handle.
In these early stages, you should focus on teaching employees to use their Twitter handles to get the word out about the company before working with them to promote their personal brands. (The latter step involves considerable complexities.) All social-media deployment should advance your business goals of increasing brand awareness, ensuring trust/transparency and establishing localization, Hopkins says. He speaks from experience: Given that Huawei is based in Shenzhen, China, where access to commonly used social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are blocked, Hopkins trained the company’s 60-plus PR managers around the globe on how to use social media in their respective countries.
No limits. While starting small is advisable, there’s really no ceiling with respect to what social media is capable of to serve strategic objectives. Every day, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. are breaking down once-confining geographic and cultural borders. Naveen Krishnamurthy, founder/CEO of RIVA Solutions Inc., shed light on how his company enables government agencies to make a great deal of impact on an international scale. RIVA Solutions delivers Web solutions, mobile applications and social-media consulting to federal customers.
Krishnamurthy (@naveenk22) told us how he’s assisted federal agencies such as U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of State (DoS). With concerns about inconsistencies in global discussions about American diplomacy, for example, the DoS enlisted RIVA Solution’s support to monitor foreign sentiment toward the US through conversations on social-media platforms. The key objective now for the government: Transforming social media from an outreach instrument to a genuine communications tool.
Through social media, we’re able to share ‑ and glean ‑ a volume of information to a level of detail that would have been almost unimaginable even just 10 years ago. Businesses that make the most of these opportunities will be in the best position to succeed on a multi-national scale. At W2 Communications, we’re a high tech PR agency that’s constantly working with clients to finetune their social-media practices as they seek expansion worldwide. How are you planning to use social media to “shrink the globe”?
Molly Doyle is a senior account coordinator at W2 Communications.