By Roopinder Tara, Tenlinks.com
Social media has transformed the world, from finding high school friends on Facebook to overthrowing governments with Twitter. So why is it that some in our CAD industry seem to have failed in capitalizing on it?
After observing one great success, and a few dismal failures, I offer these rules for those seeking to use social media:
Rule #1: Don’t Dismiss It
Everyone is aware of blogs, tweets, and Facebook, but if you think it’s something that your wife does or how the kids waste their time -- that it has no place in your business, a fad that you can safely ignore -- then prepare for the world to pass you by.
Rule #2: Don’t Question It
How many times have I heard “I don’t get Twitter…or Facebook..or blogging…” Guess what? It doesn’t matter if you get it. The fact is that everyone is using it; it’s a fact of life. An entire generation is growing up texting, googling, living their lives on each other's Facebook pages. It's the air they breathe.
Maybe you think LinkedIn is better, the adult version of Facebook. This seems like a reasonable excuse. But LinkedIn establishes a generation gap: kids use Facebook; old fogeys use LinkedIn. Kinda like snowboards vs skis. Just remember one thing: who are your future customers?
Rule #3: Don’t Misuse It
Let’s say you are convinced of the importance of social medial. You see all the other kids in the pool, so you jump in-- except you can’t swim. Your toupee comes off, and you’re flailing.
Watching some companies using social media makes me squirm. For one big CAD company in particular, social media meant mandating employees get a Twitter account. But they had nothing to say, and so Twitter use lapsed into lavish praise of each others' mediocre accomplishments and of their products. I watched as the cheerleading reached a crescendo during a national user meeting, with endless retweets of every lame joke the CEO made.
Oh, by the way, ease up on tweeting about the "great white paper!" or salesy Webinar. That stuff is on your site, right. We’ll get it there, if we need it, thanks.
More recently, I was busy tweeting when another big CAD company abruptly declared mid-conference that all tweeting and photos were to stop now -- shortly after trying to impress us with how media savvy, hip, and online they were.
Case Study: SolidWorks
Despite all initial and continued success as a market leader, SolidWorks today itself finds itself with many of the same challenges as the others: trying to figure out where to go from here. Its once mighty legion of bloggers were the envy of the industry. Users and resellers by day, they pecked away on their keyboards til late at night creating volumes of dialog, tutorials, tips and tricks, etc.
But now, many blogs grown cobwebs, having lost momentum and fervor. In particular, one notable blogger has all but defected, often writing positively about rival products. Some may write again as their annual user event approaches.
Case Study: Autodesk
Autodesk -- the undisputed business leader of our industry -- is arguably also the leader in social media. Its leading evangelist, Lynn Allen (aka, the Queen of CAD) artfully combines live appearances and print articles with tweets and blog posts. Shaan Hurley, first on the blogging CAD scene in 2003 with Between the Lines has continued to produce online ever since. Then there is Scott Sheppard, a one-man PR staff, who keeps all up to date on cool new products from Autodesk Labs. Kean Walmsley, Heidi Hewitt, Kate Morrical, and more who, despite working full time jobs at Autodesk, are also prolific bloggers, roiling their areas of cyberspace with useful and interesting content.
Want to be successful in social media? Study Autodesk. They are all over the Web. You can't miss it.
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Spare the excuses, chief among them would be “We don’t have Autodesk resources.” Guess what? Social media participation is NOT expensive. It used to take a princely ransom to introduce and promote a product. SolidWorks spent millions. That was when guys in suits with expense accounts ruled the media, selling print ads and show booths.
The new crowd works a lot cheaper. It’s just that someone has to figure out how it can all work out.
[Reprinted with permission of CAD Insider.]