Social Media for Small Business

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 @ 08:10 AM
posted by mrscaz

Social network, microblog, status updates, tweets, oh, my! Confused yet? If you are, it understandable. In 2004, the world changed as we know it, Facebook was born and two years later, Twitter was introduced. That was when we became all to “aware” of what our friends were up to. The plus side is that we are now able to keep in touch with those long lost high school friends, distant relatives and business associates. Even more recently, businesses have been taking advantage of the free advertising aspect. Where else can you get your company’s name, brand and product in front of hundreds if not thousands of people DAILY? Even in the kids belts business, we rely very heavily on social media.

Now the questions to ask are, “What are they?” and “What can they do for me and my business?”

However, before we get into that, lets define a few words for you…

  • Social Network – a platform (generally web based) made up of individuals connected by similar interests such as friendships, beliefs, knowledge, hobbies, etc…
  • Microblog – think small blog (web based commentaries maintained by individuals which allow visitors to interact and leave comments). Microblogs are much more concise, usually consisting of a few sentences. They can be as simple as “I just read the most amazing book!” or geared more towards your business “Check out our new website, www.123company.com and let us know what you think! We revamped it to make it more user friendly for all of you”
  • Status Update – (most commonly attributed to Facebook) a short group of phrases related to the account holder. The most frequently used status update answers the question “What am I doing?”, however individuals also use it to describe their mood, political views, vents and ramblings.
  • Tweets – Are very similar to status updates but are limited to 140 characters it also provides a microblogging service.

Facebook and Twitter are similar in that they are both social networking sites that allow users to connect with other users from the convenience of their keyboard, they both revolve around profiles, relationships and newsfeeds. Facebook users can updated their status while Twitter users get to “tweet”. One of the key differences seems to be that Facebook tends to be more personalized because users are connecting with “friends” and therefore tend to share more private information, ie. their moods, relationships, thoughts and rantings. Twitter tends to be more information driven focusing on news, links and brands making it business friendly.

Social media is becoming THE way to self promote. Whether you are promoting a product, a company, an event or youself, brand awareness is key and what better way to create that than by having “followers” or “fans”? Both Twitter and Facebook are tools you can use to get you message out to many people in a short amount of time with just a few keystrokes. The two sites can also be linked so that updating your status in Facebook automatically Tweets for you in Twitter as well. So, have a new, exciting product? Tweet it! Hired a new employee? Facebook it! Have an amazing summer sale? Tweet and tweet it again! The point it to stay fresh, stay relevant and stay involved, keep you customers informed. There is no sense in having a Facebook or Twitter account if you don’t do anything with it. After all, it’s free advertising, why would you waste that?

Not sure which one is right for you? Why not both? They both have pros and cons:

Twitter

Advantages:

  • Easy to make new contacts and extend your social circle beyond your friends.
  • Simple, uncomplicated user interface.
  • Highly interactive. Allows you to communicate directly with your customers and address their comments or concerns.
  • Posts, or “tweets,” enjoyed by your followers are often rebroadcast as re-tweets.
  • You can search all posts on Twitter for key words relevant to your business.
  • Twitter users are usually open to making connections with people they don’t know.

Disadvantages:

  • Tweets are a moment in time, then lost in a user’s Twitter feed.
  • Can only post links to one photo at a time.
  • Limited to 140 characters for a post.
  • Smaller user base, although it is growing rapidly.
  • Direct messages can only be sent to one user at a time.
  • Can’t post videos, but can add links to YouTube videos.
  • You are unsure of how much your tweets are being read.

Facebook

Advantages:

  • Photo albums and older posts remain on your wall long after initially made.
  • Can post multiple photos.
  • Not limited to 140 characters for status updates. Can be as wordy as you wish.
  • Some businesses are even using their Facebook Page as their blogging platform.
  • Large user base.
  • Can send a direct Facebook mail to all of your fans at once.
  • Can add videos to your page.
  • Facebook provides detailed insights on the users of your Page.

Disadvantages:

  • Difficult to attract new fans. Requires the fan to initiate contact.
  • Initial setup of a Facebook Page is more labor intensive, especially if you want it to be successful.
  • Can be difficult to get fan interaction on your Pages. Feedback levels are commonly found at 2% or less on any given post.
  • Although fans can “share” your posts, it doesn’t occur as freely.
  • Cannot search Facebook users’ posts. In fact, users’ status updates are usually not visible unless they are a “friend.”
  • Facebook users tend to be looking to make connections with people or groups they already know.

Courtesy of sproutsocial.com

The bottom line is that the benefits of social media are limitless. Use these tools to help your business grow and succeed in this competitive market.

Resources – Help is everywhere!
http://blog.hubspot.com/Portals/249/docs/facebook_for_business_ebook_hubspot.pdf
http://www.twitip.com/twitter-versus-facebook/
http://www.techipedia.com/2010/how-to-use-facebook-for-business-and-marketing/

Blessings,

Common Cents Mama - Kids Belts - Toddler Belts inventor

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