Canadian Manufacturing

Social networking best practices for business

Using online tools to improve the bottom line

LAS VEGAS— Scott Bartosiewicz was an outsourced Chrysler employee in Detroit when he wrote the twitter update that wound up costing him his job:

“I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to (expletive) drive.”

The tweet was supposed to go to his personal twitter account but went instead to Chrysler’s.

He was sacked by his employer, a marketing firm that Chrysler was using. The automaker also canceled its contract with the firm.

More and more businesses are using social media tools to boost their online presence, but as Bartosiewicz found, some web activity can damage a company’s reputation just as easily as it can improve the bottom line.

Presenters at a recent IBM conference in Las Vegas outlined which online gadgets are gaining the most traction in the business world and how to use them properly.

“Linked in, twitter, and you tube are just some of the options out there,” says Mary Gorczynski, IBM marketing manager and a presenter at a session on social networking best practices.

Gorczynski says social networking sites can help managers keep in touch with people they meet at business functions or make new connections to industry partners they wouldn’t normally meet in person.

New users who are unsure about posting can still access useful information just by “trolling” the sites for ideas and trends related to best practices.

Companies are also starting to use the sites to recruit new talent without having to pay for an official job posting. She points out that a simple tweet about a new opportunity can get retweeted and circulated throughout the industry.

The web can also be used to educate clients and maintain relationships.

DME, a mold technologies manufacturer in Michigan, just launched its own youtube channel with videos that demonstrate new technologies, techniques and tips for molders and moldmakers.

Managers can also bring themselves up to speed using those sites, according to Jason Verly.

As a project engineer at Davisco Foods, a Minnesota cheese and food ingredient manufacturer, Verly says he frequently turns to yahoo tech forums to answer maintenance-related questions.

“It’s not a lifeline to tech support, but you do find threads that help,” he says.

Other sites have helped him amass contacts from Brazil to New York City who also provide technical aid.

“Through two twitter contacts, I easily found eight others for tech support,” Verly says.

Despite being an online media advocate, Verly says he’s still wary about incorporating every form of social networking into his business practices.

“Every company has a threshold of what they’re comfortable with. I’m careful about facebook, even though some people use it for business,” he says.

“For me, facebook is personal and I think it’s important to keep some things separate.”

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