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ARE YOU A SOCIAL ANIMAL?


Chris Baron, director of conservatory specialist Prefix Systems, looks at the increased adoption of social media within the glazing industry. From the large corporate entities to the sole trader, Chris says tools such as Blogs, Facebook and Twitter can be easily harnessed for business advantage.


According to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, ‘social media is the term commonly given to internet and mobile-based channels and tools that allow users to interact with each other and share opinions and content. As the name implies, social media involves the building of communities or networks and encouraging participation and engagement.’


Put more simply, social media is a means for both individuals and companies to share information to the world at large by means of the internet or mobile phone. It is also an informal means of communications that can be harnessed by anyone, subject to legislation and company guidelines. While celebrities harness Twitter to engage with their fans, companies should be using such tools for a competitive advantage.


While Facebook is perhaps seen more of the domain for communications between friends or for large corporate companies such as Coca-Cola, Twitter has become an overnight revelation for both individuals and business entities. Twitter is a vehicle to communicate to the world at large in just 130 character spaces, which means grammar is less of an issue than content. It also just takes a minute or so to update.


According to Twitter, there are now an estimated 140 million users worldwide, with an average of 340 million tweets (comments) per day, according to information released on March 21, 2012. Independent studies have also suggested that the UK has the fourth largest number of Twitter users in the world, beaten only by the US, Brazil and Japan.


Within the glazing industry the media generally uses Twitter as


a vehicle to post press announcements and offer opinion, while companies use it for a number of activities. Companies can try and influence followers directly or through re-tweets (a means of getting someone else to re-post their comments) with comment about their products, services or even opinion about the world at large.


Hashtags (#) are also used as keywords for search purposes and although the search engine within Twitter is relatively basic, in time it will be come ever more complex, though not likely on a Google scale. Within the industry you are likely to see #pvcu, #compositedoors and #conservatories as hashtags for example, but there is also the opportunity to create one of your own and see if it can capture the imagination of the industry.


38 « Clearview NMS « September 2012 « www.clearview-uk.com


FOR THOSE NOT ACTIVE TWEETERS THE FOLLOWING FRAMEWORK OF DO’S MAY HELP GET YOU STARTED:


• Engage in conversation • Ensure a brand is consistent in all messages • Disclose relationships when endorsing something/someone • Be honest about who manages the Twitter account • Outline content approval process from the outset • Be transparent when updating information • Correct errors openly and in a timely manner • Add a ‘views are my own’ disclaimer where appropriate • Be upfront about conflicts of interst • Be respectful of others


AS MUCH THERE ARE DO’S, THERE ARE ALSO SOME CAVEATS.


DON’T: • Forget that posts etc can stay online forever


• Make an audience feel uncomfortable • Bring your company into disrepute • Reveal company/client sensitive information • Be fake • Ignore the legal implications of anything posted While there are several social media channels, which include blogs,


Facebook and Twitter for Prefix Systems, the latter has really captured the imagination of many in the industry. We’re already up to 617 followers, while others have passed the 1,000 mark and in many instances it has generated business through shared and common contacts and third party references, as we have experienced.


If you are not already part of the social media revolution, take a few minutes out and set up a Twitter account. Take on board some of the above advice and I hope to Tweet you soon! You may also want to follow us @prefixsystems for all things conservatory-related.


www.prefixsystems.co.uk


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