If you’ve just started a business and you’re wondering how to use small business social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, you’re not alone. There are right ways, wrong ways, and ways that are a waste of time.
Any time you’re online you notice those little blue “F’s” on every site. Even the biggest companies like Microsoft have pages littered with the blue F. (You would think they could make their own version of Facebook, wouldn’t you?)
Here’s what you should rememnber about small business social networking: Don’t allow your new small business to be pulled in to Facebook or Twitter simply because everybody else does it. You need to have a plan if you’re going to use it.
Think about the last time you went to a professional sporting event, concert, or something else where tens of thousands of people were packed in to a small area. While there were enough individuals to populate a small town, how many individuals did you truly see? You saw the handful that sat around you but beyond that, probably very few.
That is the problem with small business social networking. Everybody does it but very few businesses stand out. The better way to use these sites is to fist make an impact on people you know or the community around you. Start a personal Facebook page. “Friend” some people you know and strike up some conversations.
At the same time, make a page for your new business but don’t shamelessly promote it on your new “personal” facebook profile. Remember that anybody can start a business page so make sure to include any letters like “LLC” or “inc” in your business name so people know that you’re a real business. If you haven’t registered your business, do it. It’s inexpensive and it gives your business some notoriety.
Every once in a while, post an announcement on your personal facebook page about your business. “YAY…I’m all moved in to my new shop. Come say hi. I’m at (address)” This invites your friends over and promotes your business without it being a shameless advertisement. Add something to your website and other business mailings about your Facebook business page but don’t expect big results.
Communicate with your “friends” when appropriate and give them permission to tell their friends about you and that you would be happy to answer any questions they have about (your area of expertise). Tell them to send you a friend request. You don’t want to make it sound like an advertisement and any strategy like this should come from a sincere desire to help others. People can see right through less than sincere intentions.
Making a business page and expecting thousands of followers overnight isn’t realistic anymore. Using your small business social networking presence to make personal contacts will return much better results. Find ways to use Facebook to add value to potential customers. Give them something for free instead of being another one of the millions trying to make a name in the social networking world.