Love it or hate it…it makes no difference. One of Patrick’s main points is that regardless of how you may feel about the growth (or intrusion!) of social media into everyday life, this very growth is reason enough for you to participate. Recall the homeless man that became famous almost overnight because of his great radio voice? The incredible speed of that story’s growth is a good example of the power of social media. An example in our business? In March, 2011, the Investment Recovery Association’s LinkedIn Group had 157 members— a year later it has almost 500! (Have your business contacts more than tripled in the last year?) One thing unique to LinkedIn—and part of the reason behind its success–is that it is essentially a professional networking site that keeps up–to–date information on your contacts, their contacts and their contacts…automatically! Building your network allows you to easily connect with others that share your particular focus of surplus asset management as well as any other interests. Inexpensive surplus visibility. Importantly, postings on LinkedIn can bring increased visibility to your surplus (or help you find a particular item) at no cost and very little effort. For example, recent postings on the association’s LinkedIn site include excess laboratory and analytical equipment, OEM surplus equipment, someone looking to buy large propane storage tanks, surplus out-of-service Allen Bradley switches, large continuous duty motors, a 32’ diving support vessel/tender for sale, plus surplus filling and packaging equipment among other requests. The lesson here is that you don’t need 15 million people viewing your surplus items; you simply need a few qualified prospects to be able to find your items in a web search. In short, LinkedIn is a powerful research tool with a “friends of friends” capability built in that opens up many networking opportunities. GOOGLE RANKING AND ADVERTISING The vast majority of your potential clients will use Google to search for your business (associate members) or your surplus products (members). Can you control what they see? Absolutely! So how does your surplus or your business get found? Twenty years ago, people looking for business products searched the Yellow Pages, trade magazines and attended trade shows. They also consulted business acquaintances in person or on the phone. Today, more often than not, people search Google first. They still look through trade magazines (now available in print and online editions) and attend trade shows, but they also depend very frequently on social media such as industry blogs, websites and links, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube…and occasionally some actual talking! After which, Google is often referred to again. With so many people depending on Google for their Internet search results, and so much potential competition for particular keywords, a high ranking in the Google search results (both for free listings and paid ads) is critical. Paid ads on Google allow you to fairly quickly (and often affordably, depending on how much completion you have for a particular keyword or phrase) get a high ranking and generate traffic to a landing page for your product or company. Getting noticed. Google ads work, and can be very productive and affordable. The tracking capability of each keyword and ad copy provides incredible feedback for marketers. But separate from paid advertising, search engine optimization (SEO) is a means of including key search terms into the content of your website in a manner that will get you higher rankings for free. There is an entire sub-industry that has formed around how Google and other search engines manage their ranking algorithms. Get found faster with videos and blogging. Although critical to long-term success, SEO can take months to be effective. One thing you can do to improve your rankings and add credibility to your products or service is to dedicate yourself to creating a blog using WordPress, Blogger, TypePad or other tools. An accurate title for articles in your blog is a critical element in helping search engines (and prospects!) find your article. Facebook and YouTube for business. Yet another important element of ‘fast find’ tactics is to create short videos using YouTube—with keywords that your potential customers would use to search for your surplus product or service. (Examples are in Patrick’s handouts). If Facebook were a country, it would have the world’s third largest population! YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine. (And neither Facebook or YouTube are welcome in China.) So as a North American company, posting a YouTube video can dramatically improve your search engine rankings across all search engines, and provide an inexpensive means to give product demos, stimulate site visits or show a piece of equipment in working order prior to being taken out of service. SUMMARY The decision is no longer whether or not to DO social media; the decision is how WELL to do social media. Patrick’s website and presentation (found at InvRecovery.com/Presentations) offers many insights into tips and tricks that can help you leverage your efforts today into results that will last for many years.