Communication is an important aspect of any business, but how do new media tools affect government contractors seeking to team with others? In addition to social media tools like LinkedIn and Twitter, there are additional tools like company blogs and webinars that all play a part in extending the voice of your brand.
Individual contractors and their respective companies are not usually known as influencers on public social media sites, with good reason. LinkedIn and Twitter are both consumer sites, and for the most part, government contractors focus on business or government when it comes to communication.
New media tools are the new mega phone. You don't have to be louder to be heard by more people, you just need the right message and content. Photo: National Archives.
While brands like Zappos reach new customers and provide customer service on social media tools like LinkedIn and Twitter, government contractors can’t utilize the same service and expect the same level of results. However, if you are seeking to team with other contractors or network and learn about government agencies, these tools can come in handy.
LinkedIn and Twitter can be used in contracting, but there is one tool in particular capable of reaching audiences outside your geographic location: webinars.
Webinars and Government Contracting
If you are part of a large government contractor or want to learn about effective methods of communicating, use a webinar. Regardless of your location, a webinar can allow your company to extend its reach from a small city to participants across the globe. All you need is a topic, an intended audience and, most importantly, a goal.
One group that knows how to make use of webinars is L2 Federal Resources. According to CEO Jonathan Levin, L2 does market research, finds relevant government contracting trends, attends events and uses its internal expertise to identify new webinar topics that would be useful to the GovCon market.
While Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to post content and brief messages to interested parties, webinars open up two-way communication. Sure, you can engage with a brand’s profile on Facebook, but webinars are designed for interaction between presenters and participants.
"Typically, webinars last an hour and really allow participants a more in-depth understanding of a subject matter as opposed to a blog post, article or tweet,” said Levin. L2 Federal Resources offers regular webinar training sessions on federal regulations and marketing to the government similar to how GovWin has the GovCon Careers webinar series, which is specifically designed to allow job seekers to speak with experts.
In addition to sharing information about careers, webinars can be used for distance training sessions, from the latest regulations that affect contractors to best practices for GSA Schedule holders. Whether your company hosts or participates in a webinar, it makes training a great deal more accessible.
“During a down economy, it is a perfect time to invest in webinar training. It is the time when companies should be improving,” said Levin. There are no travel fees associated with webinar-based training, and the overhead costs are minimal, depending upon the audience. “Your staff should be actively learning, as it will be much harder to compete given the fact that everyone is fighting for a piece of a smaller market."
The Top 3 Government Contractors in 140 or Less
What do Lockheed Martin (@LockheedMartin), Northrop Grumman (@northropgrumman) and Boeing (@boeing) have in common? All three of the top government contractors have a presence on Twitter, the social media site that allows users to post messages in 140 characters or less. Based on Washington Technology's 2010 top government contracting companies report, many of the top 100 contracting companies also have accounts.
If the bandwagon doesn’t influence your choice to use Twitter, the thought of networking with potential teaming partners, expert leaders and prime contractors may have a greater appeal. Though GovWin has a tool that makes it easier for you to team with other contractors based on specific requirements, communication is still the key to a strong relationship.
If you are looking to team with a specific company, you can do a search on Twitter to see whether any individuals that work with them who have an account. After identifying an employee, the communication process is no different from that of an in-person networking event. Make a virtual introduction and greeting, and you open a line of communication.
In fact, through the use of networking on LinkedIn, I managed to connect with co-director of the Government Market Master Program Mark Amtower, and on Twitter with Seville Government Consulting's Jaime Gracia.
If you are using LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to network with potential teaming partners and federal customers, what is the next step?
Not only can you promote webinars via your branded social network feeds, you can personalize webinar invitations for the people you have been networking with. Though you will likely have a marketing list for leads, everyone likes to feel special, and providing a custom invitation to a webinar is a great way to accomplish this.
Keep in mind that social media sites are meant to be social. If you are simply sharing your own content and press releases, and ignoring customers attempting to engage with your brand, your strategy will not be worth the time you invest in it. Be social, meet new people and show people why your government contracting company rocks.
If you are interested in learning more about how social media can be useful to government contractors, join Mark Amtower, Jaime Gracia and myself on September 13 for "Best Practices: Web 2.0 / Social Networking Trends, Tools and Tactics" in Fairfax, Va. If you want to register for the event you can also get a 10 percent discount by using the following code: GovWin11.
As a government contractor, how have social media and webinars affected your business and communications strategy?