Social Media for Business 101

You might be a master at managing your personal Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, but that doesn’t mean you’re an expert at leveraging social media in a business.

There are a lot of introductions to social media for personal branding and career advancement, but there is a market gap when it comes to learning how to leverage social media in organizations, said Sionne Roberts, general manager of, the marketing optimization division of IT World Canada Inc., aims to fill this gap by hosting “Social Media For Your Organization.” The day-long conference, taking place on May 27 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Toronto, will introduce businesses to the space, he said.

David Alston, vice-president of marketing and community at Radian6 Technologies Inc., will kick off the event with a keynote on what social media really means to organizations. Four blocks of sessions will follow, divided into two tracks.

One track is entry-level and the other is designed for those with some knowledge of the space, said Roberts. Content focuses specifically on social media and not Web marketing or channels per se, he said. “It is very narrow, focused and progressive,” he said.

Designed to promote learning, both tracks become more advanced as the day progresses. “Throughout the day, even if you have very limited knowledge, you can progress and build on your previous sessions,” said Roberts.

The first two concurrent sessions include “It’s not Rocket Science!” designed for those who don’t know what tweeting is, and “Doing Social Media The Right Way” for those who might have a Facebook page but don’t understand the applications for their business, he said.

The second group takes it to the next level by focusing on social media success stories and how to make the case for social media in your organization, he said. The third stage focuses on policy development.

Roberts is presenting the success stories session, which will gravitate towards metrics. His talk will focus on defining “what are your objectives, how are you going to work towards those objectives, how are you going to be able to tell if you hit those objectives or not,” he said.

The fourth group includes Roy Periera, head of Shiny Agency, on advanced-level tactics for Facebook marketing such as Facebook Applications and Facebook Connect. The alternative session, featuring Mesh Conference organizer Mark Evans, will target PR and marketing communications.

A panel discussion moderated by IDC Canada senior analyst Krista Napier will wrap up the event with insight from the session presenters.

Attending the conference is one way for businesses to not only get a solid introduction to the social media space, but also determine whether social media is for them, said Roberts. “You don’t know what you don’t know,” he said.

Even those who think they already know social media have something to learn, he said. “People who perceive themselves as familiar with social media don’t understand that there are other tools available that they haven’t leveraged yet,” he said.

The conference isn’t “by marketers for marketers,” said Roberts. “It’s social marketing for anybody who’s interested in the space,” he said.

“Social media is not a marketing channel. It’s a communications channel,” he said. And when it comes to business, social media is about how an organization interfaces with the world, he said.

IT pros should care for a number of reasons, said Roberts. “Social media is more about interaction and conversation versus broadcasting or just promoting a message down a media channel,” he said.

“If you are going to be successful at social media, you need to be able to listen, not just push messages down. And I think once you have that mindset of listening, it helps to break down some of those internal silos … that gap between IT and everybody else,” he said.

“Social media is kind of a misnomer in that it is not really a medium for sending things. It is more of a dialogue. As it applies to organizations, I think it is very important to break down what I call the ‘Dilbert gap,’ where you have suits on one side and IT people on the other,” he said.

Follow me on Twitter @jenniferkavur. 

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