Sign of the times

By Steve Katz, Editor | July 10, 2012

At the recent FINAT Congress in Athens, a speaker addressing the audience made the requisite request that attendees switch their cell phones and mobile devices to “silent” mode. He didn’t say to turn them off. In fact, as he made the request, the big screen behind him flashed #FINAT12, and he instructed those that use social media to use this as a “hashtag.”

For those not familiar with Twitter, a social networking site where users share all types of information in 140 characters or less, a hashtag is used to mark keywords or topics in a Twitter message, or Tweet. A hashtag is a word preceded by the # symbol, and was created by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages. So, for those at the FINAT meeting that wanted to share their experience (in real time), they had a way to do so.

When you’re sitting in your next conference, take a look around. You might see several people seemingly “playing” with their phones or looking at their laptops. There’s a good chance these people are not tuning out the speaker and being rude. They might be paying very close attention, and are perhaps even more engaged than they’d normally be, listening intently for something worth sharing or “tweeting.”

As a journalist, it’s a great tool, and one that I’ve embraced. It’s become a new way for me to not only take notes, but also to engage and interact with industry people, who may be at the same show that I am, or who may even be on the other side of the world. I think it’s pretty cool.

Social media is being used across all industries, ours included. It used to be that LinkedIn was considered the outlet for one’s professional life, but new Twitter accounts and Facebook pages are cropping up everywhere, covering all parts of the supply chain. Of course, brand owners have them, but label printers and suppliers to the label industry have them too.

Social media is here to stay. Today, some organizations have people whose official job titles and descriptions revolve around it. But I think in the majority of situations, it’s become an added duty for someone, and that person needs to “find the time” for it.

My question though is, do you have a social media presence (if you have one) because now you think you need to? Or, is this an actual sales tool, and another way to promote your products and offer promotions? And more importantly, does it work? As someone who is not on the sales side of an industry, I’m curious. 

I welcome your feedback. Feel free to write, or follow me and send a Tweet to @LabelSteve.

Steve Katz, Editor
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