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The Power ofWord ofMouth in the Internet Age from Page 21

ated the customer service they were receiving. One company was active in regard to social media, and

another ignored it.

The basics One of the first things that your company or organization

should do is look around at what is happening in the world of social media in your immediate area. There are two areas that you would want to look at: parking specific and those related to your specific job. (For a list of the current parking-specific socialmedia sites, look at the side bar or go to www.parkingto- Does the city or college, etc., that your parking department

supports have a socialmedia presence (Facebook accounts,Twit- ter program, etc.)?Make sure that a member of your staff moni- tors that site. There might be a wealth of information about how people view your parking department or about how members of your staff are viewed by the public. Set up a Facebook orTwitter account for your staff to follow.

It is a good way to get information to your staff.There are amul- titude of uses for this account (training, feedback on staffing issues, or a newidea forum).This also is a goodway to help train your staff on howto use these services, because therewill come a time whenmany of themwill need to be able to use them. Set up a public Facebook page orTwitter account.These can be used to communicatewith your customers in a variety of fash-

ions. You can tell your customers of parking lot closures and where they should redirect to; changes in rules or regulations; possible savings opportunities, etc.While not every person has a social media account or checks it frequently, it takes only a cou- ple tomake a difference. At a college, if a parking garagewere closed due to an emer-

gency repair and 15%of the customers knew ahead of time and could redirect their routes, it would save the parking department a lot of energy. (To find out more about how a public Facebook page or “fan page” can be helpful to your organization, click here.) Get set up on LinkedIn and connect with other people in your industry. This can assist you in finding high-quality recom- mendations for products and services, as well as help you find high-quality individuals when your organization is hiring. When you see a Facebook orTwitter link froma person or a

professional organization in your industry, follow it. Once you begin following, you can find out if that organization or person puts out good or bad information, and then you can decide what to do.The benefits can be tremendous. The worst thing in business is to not be informed, and social

media is a great way to keep up. Not being involved in social media can be dangerous to your business.

Andy Van Horn is Operations Director at Parking Today and in charge of its Social Media activity. He can be reached at


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