Making social media work for business is an in-demand consultancy and training topic, and there are many people with lots to say on the subject. Business editor Julie Hayes visited the Yorkshire Mafia Conference to hear it from men who matter....

The Yorkshire Mafia owes its existence to social media, having grown out of a LinkedIn-based networking group to encourage local businesses to work together. It now has more than 8,000 members and at its second conference last month, delegates heard from Wade Burgess, director of northern Europe for LinkedIn, and Ivan Heneghan, head of strategic client services at Facebook.

Connecting professionals

Wade Burgess said people would continue to interact and network in a similar way, just using different technologies, which could add another dimension to networking.

He said: “Once all the world’s professionals are connected and their information becomes updated in real time, then we have a foundation to do some really interesting things.”

In particular, networking will be transformed by professional insight, he said. “We should be able to know the right information about the right things at the right time. The next breakthrough in the way we interact as professionals will be about professional insight. For example, if I’m getting ready to talk to a specific group of people, there are certain things I’ll need to know that is relevant to them.”

Wade, who is from York, Nebraska, said LinkedIn would not be adding new capabilities all over the place in order to compete with other social media, but would stay focused on what professionals required.

Wade pointed out that while Facebook was used as a social utility, and Twitter for public communication, LinkedIn is used as a professional network.

“There’s a lot of really interesting things going on today in the world of social media. We need to stay focused on the world’s professionals and how to make them more productive and successful and provide economic opportunity to every professional in the world. It’s about adding value and delivering against a mindset rather than trying to do everything.”

They would be focusing on making its capabilities all available by mobile device however, so people can ultimately apply for jobs, using their LinkedIn profile as their CV, from their mobile.

How to use LinkedIn

Your LinkedIn profile is a professionals’ profile of record. People will read it when they Google you before a meeting, and you should use it to find out about what is relevant to them.

• Don’t add everybody and anybody to your network

• Don’t sell on LinkedIn

• Do use LinkedIn to cement relationships with people you know or have met and allow those relationships to grow over time

• Do add in more of a description of yourself.Often your occupation doesn’t fully describe you. Your profile shouldn’t sound like a marketing person wrote it to make you sound better

• Do add links to your profile to help you show up in search engines

• Do share relevant pieces of information which your network will find useful

• Don’t get people to recommend you by recommending them. People can see it’s a deal between you both

• Do get recommended on doing good work

• Do use key words in your specialties, so people can search for you

• Don’t update LinkedIn too much. It is not Twitter

Using new Facebook pages

“Things are changing on Facebook and the way we’re seeing things,” said Ivan Heneghan, explaining the new timeline format, which went live last Friday.

He said that rather than clicks or conversions, Facebook was about creating essential connections.

“Those essential connections we build aren’t just with people but with brands and businesses.

“People don’t tend to ‘like’ more than ten business pages,” he said.

“When somebody does engage with a business, think about what that means. I am holding up my hand and saying I’m interested about hearing from your business to the same extent as I do with my friends and family.”

He said people often asked him the value of a “fan” on Facebook.

“It’s what you make of it.

“Why do you want a page and why do you want an audience for your page?

He said the new pages were the focus for Facebook now.

“The page is the centre of everything. It’s mission control for your business. When you have a page for your business, that’s your brand’s presence on Facebook.

“Every piece of content you post will become a brand message of some sort.”

How to use Facebook pages

• Add a cover photo – something that captures your brand, which you can update

• Pick a consistent profile picture that people associate with your brand, like your logo, which will show up when you browse around other pages

• Post engaging content and post regularly – once a day is a good amount

• Photos and picture generate twice as much engagement than other posts

• What posts suit your audience - video, photographs, questions or polls?

• Let your timeline tell your story. The New York Times’s Facebook page details highlights going back to when it was founded in 1851

• Post when you think your audience will be on Facebook, for example many restaurants post deals mid-morning to catch lunchtime diners