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in regards to receiving information. Most people talk to those they know. We all do this.What is a good Italian restaurant, what hotel should I stay at, orwhat revenue control systemdo you use? In the final case, most people lis- ten to individuals like themselves (if a person runs a city parking organiza- tion then he or she tends to ask some- one in a similar position for advice). What social media does is make this process easier. It allows for people to stay in contact withmore people at the same time.

Platforms The use of social media started

out very simply (I will be focusing on the Big Three): Facebook was a way for college students to keep in touch; Twitter was a way for news informa- tion to be disseminated in a simple and straight forward manner in times of emergency; LinkedIn was a way for people to be connected in a business setting. But as with any invention, no one knew where it would lead. (See sidebar on what Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are.) Now these forms of social media

have exploded. Facebook has more than 410 million users (that is more people than live in the United States). Twitter hasmorphed froma news-con- tent agency to a focus on social inter- action (what this famous person is doing now). LinkedIn has held most true to its original business model by focusing solely on business relation- ships. Instead of writing a letter, mak- ing a phone call or sending an email, I can update my Facebook status with which event I will be attending and see if anyone elsewants to go and reach lit- erally hundreds of people with the click of a button.

Why should I care? The question is, “As a business,

why should I care about social media? Isn’t it just a way for my teenage daughter to follow what Lindsay Lohan is doing?” Well, actually, no. Social media is a powerful tool.Why should you care about social media? Hearing about trends within the indus- try,what people are talking about,what issues your company can address in the marketplace. Some of the issues can get very specific. The following examples actually

happened, in the parking industry. A person sent a note to a social


media site that stated: “I use X piece of equipment made by company Y and it keeps failing. Does any one have a solu- tion on how to fix?” A couple of people responded that

they had the problem as well and never got any help from the company that made the product. Others suggested a rival company. That was it. The site has more than 1,000 subscribers. Another time a similar note appeared (on the same socialmedia site)

but about a different company. Within six hours, there were three responses (from other individuals), all stating that they had a great experiencewithXprod- uct and that the person should contact the company thatmade it. By the next day, the person who

originally complained about the product said that they had been contacted by the company and the rep was coming out to help sort out the issue and they appreci-

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