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Social Networking for Business

Social Networking for Business

I recently did a small presentation for a few women on how they can effectively use social networking resources like Twitter and Facebook for their businesses. I made this casual handout with some basic pointers on it, and thought I could post it up here. Very basic, but may help you if you are thinking about integrating online networking into your company.

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What is Facebook?

Facebook is a social network service with more than 600 million active users. It allows users to create pages for themselves or for their business and then connect themselves with other people or other businesses. It is a method of communicating personally or corporately with people online whether by sending private messages or leaving messages on their pages (or “walls”)

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a website which offers social networking and microblogging by enabling its users to create and view messages called “tweets”. In Twitter, you “follow” people and what those people “tweet” about will appear on your twitter home page. What you “tweet” about will appear on the home page of whoever is following you. You can reply to peoples’ tweets or you can “retweet” to spread around information you find useful or relevant.

How can you use Facebook for a business?

Facebook allows you to make a business page for your company. On this page, you can leave “posts” or allow others to post on your page’s “wall”. Your posts can contain anything from links to other websites, photos, updates, information and/or topics for discussion. Every user has the option to “like” this page, which will create a link on their own page to your company’s page. Whenever a user “likes” your page, it allows what you post to automatically show up on that user’s Facebook home page.

Examples:

o   The last post on CTV’s Facebook page says “The new season of THE LISTENER starts tonight at 10pm ET on CTV. Find out more here: http://bit.ly/aMRIhJ

o   To411Daily says “’Incendies’ wins an audience award at Rotterdam Film Festival – may be up for best foreign film at this years Oscars – Ya, Canada! Read it at to411.com”

o   Boom 97.3 radio station asks its fans on its Facebook page: “How far should you go when it comes to giving a Valentine’s Day gift to someone you JUST started seeing?

How can you use Twitter for a business?

Twitter allows you to post short tweets for updates, with or without supporting links. Twitter users then have the option to “follow” you, and allowing your tweets to automatically appear on their twitter home page (or twitter feed). This allows your company to update its followers directly on promotions, changes to the company, general news or get feedback.

Examples:

o   TO411Daily tweeted: “Heather Webb to be new Executive Direct at Women in Film & Television Toronto. Full story here: http://wift.com/

o   CBCNews tweeted: “Obama has quit smoking, wife says http://bit.ly/ewjcpc

o   TTCnotices tweeted: “The eastbound 95 York Mills buses are experiencing delays due to snow removal in the Ellesmere and Warden area.

How do you get your pages known & in use on Twitter & Facebook?

o   To get your pages known, you have to make it a large part of your company. Put it in emails, your signature, business cards or flyers… just like you would advertise any other aspect of your company. Let people know you’re now online! Then, it’s just a matter of engaging your audience and keeping them interested in the page, once they’ve searched you out.

o   On Twitter, you have to be a part of the social network you are trying to enter. To get followers, follow people.  Reply to tweets. Comment, reply and discuss as much as possible.

o   Find people on Twitter in your industry, and follow them.  Then see who they are following, and follow those people. You have to make the first move. If you follow 100 people and one person follows you back, that’s fine. That one new person will make all of the difference.

Why are some pages successful and some not at all?

o   Boring, generic pages will not be responded well to. Take the time to look professional.

o   Make the effort to communicate with your followers. Your customers want to know they have a say and an effect on your company.

o   Create discussion. Don’t just tell people things, try to get people involved and become a part of what you’re doing.

What are some techniques to create an interest in your business through social networking?

o   Establish relationships, connections and trust with your followers

o   Don’t push or spam, converse.

o   Interact with people as yourself: be honest, open and patient instead of generic and fake.

What are the benefits of social networking?

o   Company Exposure and strong web presence. Having an online existence is absolutely necessary in this day and age to have a successful business. It allows you to be on a level playing field with your competitors, and if you do not have that connection with the online world, your company won’t stand a chance.

o   Providing a platform to socialize with like-minded people

o   Enhanced credibility

o   Researching & feedback – adjusting your company to target and satisfy your demographic

o   Collaboration – unexpected and otherwise unattainable connections that may benefit your company

Before you begin:

Have an image in mind. Ensure you have an image you want to portray, a logo and a catch phrase before beginning. Always remember you should stay consistent, so think of how you want to be portrayed well in advanced.

Ask yourself: Who are you targeting?  What information do you want to tell your customers, prospects and then general public? What would they be interested in hearing about?

Put yourselves in the shoes of your followers. Would you be interested in what you’re saying?

Be patient. Becoming well known and having a following is not something that will happen overnight.

Other helpful resources:

http://www.facebook.com/help/?page=721

http://www.twitip.com/

http://www.twitip.com/20-must-read-beginner-twitter-tips-for-small-business-owners/

http://www.twitip.com/ten-people-all-twitter-beginners-should-be-following/

http://mark-hayward.com/

http://mashable.com/2010/08/26/business-facebook-page/

About EGS

Erika is a writer based out of Toronto, Canada.

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