Does your company have a Facebook page? Have you posted to your timeline in the past day or two? Do you Tweet regularly? Do you have a smartphone? A tablet? A laptop or a netbook?

If you can’t answer yes to the majority of these questions, then you’re probably not connecting with your clients, technicians, students, colleagues, or potential customers nearly as effectively as you could be. You’re not getting your name out there. And, since Facebook and Twitter are free, that poses the question: What are you waiting for?

At a recent conference, I sat in on a class about how to effectively teach Generation Y students. As part of Gen Y, I cringed when I was informed of our short attention spans and addiction to technology. Sure, I check my iPhone frequently, but I don’t do it because I’m easily distracted — I do it because there is an incredible amount of information literally at my fingertips, and I want to learn. I want to stay connected.

That’s the problem with this generational gap between the employer/trainer/instructor and the employee/trainee/student. The former group often sees this technology — smartphones, social media, mobile apps, etc. — as a distraction or a nuisance when it should really be seen as a valuable tool. The latter group, well, we were practically born with cellphones in our hands. We’re digital natives — we know this technology, we adapt easily to new technology, and we’re not afraid to use it all to our advantage.

Here at The NEWS, we have a monthly “App Zone” section that highlights mobile applications in the industry. These apps can, for instance, size your furnace or a/c unit, perform load calculations, connect the office to technicians in the field, track vehicles, perform estimates, collect signatures on work orders, and more. For students, there are apps that not only keep them connected to the industry (like The NEWS’ mobile app), but also help them troubleshoot certain systems or product lines. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tapped YouTube for a how-to video.

And then there’s Facebook.

To highlight the importance of you getting online — like, now — I’m going to throw some numbers at you, courtesy of the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism:

More than four in 10 American adults now own a smartphone.

One in five adults owns a tablet.

By 2015, Facebook is expected to account for one out of every five digital display ads sold.

More than 133 million Americans, or 54 percent of the online U.S. population, are now active users on Facebook. These individuals spend an average of seven hours on Facebook monthly.

So, you need to be on Facebook, and probably also Twitter and LinkedIn. But if you’re new to Facebook, it can be daunting, so don’t be afraid to ask someone for help creating a page for your business. And, of course, it’s not enough just to create a Facebook page — you have to engage your followers, too. Here are five things you can do to increase engagement on Facebook:

1) Post Photos — Say something about it, or even ask your followers to caption the photo themselves. It could be related to your business, or it could be a silly grumpy cat meme, just because. And if they share that photo on their own timelines, chances are you could get a few new likes. You can also solicit photos and even offer to post the best one as your cover or profile photo.

2) Be Yourself — Put some personality into your page and be conversational. If you have multiple people running a Facebook page, initial your posts so people know there’s a real person talking to them. If someone asks a question on your page, respond, and if you don’t know the answer, consider reposting it and asking for your followers’ input.

3) Ask Questions — If you ask a question, you’re inviting a response. It could be as simple as, “Who’s ready for spring?” or a fill-in-the-blank status like, “I love spring because ________.”

4) Repost Content — See something cool in your news feed? Repost it. If your followers share it, it can lead their Facebook friends back to your page.

5) Give Stuff Away — Who doesn’t like free stuff? If you’re wondering what to do with the surplus of company-branded stress balls, hats, or T-shirts, here’s your chance to get rid of some of it while gaining a few followers. You can also post links to printable coupons for your business.

My point is that technology is your friend, not your foe, and social media is a valuable tool. It’s free advertising, honestly. These things are not going away, so it’s time for you to jump on the bandwagon and adapt before it’s too late to catch up.

Publication date: 3/25/2013