All play, no work? Not social media

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Plastics News photo by Crain Communications Inc.’s Tracy Schmidt, who takes social media seriously, says Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube offer businesses ways to share content, discuss ideas and find new employees.

TAMPA, FLA. — Social media is presenting plastics firms with new ways of finding talent.

"It's a way for an individual or a brand to share content and discuss ideas," Tracy Schmidt said of social media at the 2013 Plastics News Executive Forum, March 3-6 in Tampa.

Such widely used social media sites as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are providing employers with new opportunities, she added, even if it's hard to measure the return on investment. Schmidt is training and strategy director of the social media group at Detroit-based Crain Communications Inc., the media company that owns Plastics News.

Facebook has the largest time share among social media sites, claiming more than 80 percent. LinkedIn tends to attract older, more affluent professionals, according to Schmidt.

She cited Coyote Logistics, a Chicago-based third-party logistics provider, as a company that's done a lot of work with social media. Potential employees can apply for jobs directly on Coyote's Facebook page, which has drawn more than 2,000 "likes."

Coyote's YouTube channel has drawn more than 30,000 views and the firm has two Twitter accounts, with the primary account having almost 1,900 followers. Coyote's LinkedIn account also has almost 4,000 contacts.

"Coyote needs to hire a lot of people fast," Schmidt said. "So it helps that when people go to their website, they see a lot of photos of people who look like them."

When done well, social media also can help a firm with brand awareness, new business development and market research, she added.

"You start with researching your audience," she said. From there, companies can plan their content, measure their impact and take other actions.

Schmidt also suggested that firms use a social media dashboard — a third-party tool that can manage and analyze multiple social media profiles.