Earlier this month, my client, EMS Technologies, Inc., launched its Connect In-flight page on Facebook at the World Airline Entertainment Association conference in Palm Springs, Calif.
The online community, launched to bring individuals together to discuss the future of in-flight communications, was the first corporate-driven foray into social media for EMS, a technology supplier of avionics gear that enables airlines to offer WiFi services on Blackberries and iPhones.
As a corporate communicator, I am a fan of social networking as a way to reach influencers and create stronger ties to partners, customers and of course, employees. In these tough economic times, social media channels, whether it be a company blog, a Facebook page or tweets by key executives at a tradeshow, are cost effective to deploy, are easy to try out to determine if they are an effective channel before committing additional resources to maintaining and growing the social channel.
The challenge, as with any social networking outlet, is how to engage your fan base so they will want to share and debate…and reach out to their friends to get others to join in the conversation. Clearly, for those of us who write for a living, taking time to become part of these online networking sites creates opportunities for us to be an “in-the-know” resource on how to create fresh content to drive interest and buzz to these sites.
While external customer-driven sites are great, the timing has never been better to pursue social networking as part of your employee communications efforts. The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) finds that employers faced with reduced communication budgets and resources are turning to social media to keep their workforce engaged. IABC’s survey, co-sponsored by Buck Consultants, found that company blogs are the most popular social media tool currently in use (47 percent), with discussion boards ranking the highest for future planned use (33 percent).
Current use of social networking sites such as Twitter (21 percent), Yammer, or Twitter inside a corporate firewall, (20 percent), and Facebook (18 percent) is significant, but organizations are planning to use those tools even more in the future.
Based on what I am seeing within my own clientele and what I am reading and hearing from my communications colleagues, it’s a trend that will continue –count on it.