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Stop, Look and Listen: Your Customers are Everywhere

"My customers aren't on Twitter."

I hear that a lot. And not just about Twitter, but replace "Twitter" with just about any social networking tool and you get the idea. However, these assumptions are pretty dangerous.

A jeans and workboots guy at a job site in Boston

Taking a break from working on the job.

Let's look at general contractors and construction workers who build skyscrapers and state-of-the-art hospitals. You're probably thinking that these folks aren’t checking their twitterfeed or reading blogs online, participating in webinars, let alone viewing video blogs on their iPhones.

Well, you're wrong. Vico Software, which makes software for the construction industry, gets 17 percent of its Website  traffic from work it does on LinkedIn. That's nearly as much as it gets from Google. This is, of course, thanks to the work of the marketing team who works hard to keep the Vico User Group vibrant and updated, but they also reach out to the 27,000 general contractors they communicate with regularly on LinkedIn.

The executive team and product managers blog regularly about current industry news items, trends, and best practices.  These blogs are shared on LinkedIn and new discussions start every day, leading to new connections. According to Holly Allison, VP of Marketing at Vico Software, “The LinkedIn Community is ripe with networking, opinions, and sharing what works.  Our target audience utilizes LinkedIn and other social media outlets on a daily basis in order to stay one step ahead of the competition.  And in this rough economy, every advantage counts.”

Vico also hosts a bi-weekly educational webinar called Fridays with Vico. Over the last 5 quarters more than 7000 people have viewed one of those webinars, either live or recorded, with 25 percent of those being new prospects, all generated from social media outreach such as LinkedIn, Twitter or a forum in which Vico participates. As far as leads go, those 7000 people turned into an average of 90 leads a month to each US sales representative.

All this outreach has  the industry talking, with partners telling Vico executives that they see Vico Software everywhere.

Let's move on from construction workers to teachers.

Credit: Chicago 2016 Photos via Flickr

Credit: Chicago 2016 Photos via Flickr

Picture a public school teacher in your head. She is on her own in the classroom, maybe with an assistant, but facing a roomful of children. What if she has a question? What if she needs help, on the fly, with a lesson? What if a student asks a sensitive question and she just doesn't know where to go with it?

Twitter to the rescue!

Thanks to Karen Miller of DoInk.com, I learned how teachers are reaching out to each other through Twitter. So if a teacher has a question or needs help, he simply picks up his mobile phone, sends out a Tweet and in minutes has an answer from a community of teachers around the country.

So, what if you're a company, like DoInk.com, that has a business model focused on attracting teachers? Then you get involved in those teaching discussions, and that's just what Miller and her team do. That work has led to a boost in traffic for the young company and increased use among students.

So before you dismiss any social media tool as being "irrelevant"  to your audience, take a listen. You may be surprised at what you find.

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