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Why Businesses Should Use Social Networking

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A few months back I wrote an article outlining some of the drawbacks to social networking, if you haven't read it go to Social Networking Gone Wrong to do so.  Despite the fact that the drawbacks I wrote about in the article exist, I still think it's a mistake for businesses not to utilize social networking for marketing purposes.  That's why I'm back to the issue of social networking but this time to discuss the different types of social networking websites and how each can be used to promote a business.   Because there is so much to know and I don't want to overwhelm anyone, I've broken this topic into 2 installments:

  • General Social Networking Like Twitter And Facebook As Free Or Low Cost Advertising (May 2010)
  • Using Business Specific Social Networking Like Linked In (June 2010)

General Social Networking As Free or Low Cost Advertising:
Social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook are considered broad-range or general social networking.  They are open to everyone and have members all over the world.  Typically people become members as a way to connect with other people they already know and to make new friends.  Businesses however are also encouraged to join, creating a substantial opportunity to market products and services.  Despite the fact that social networking websites are free or low cost, they can actually be an extremely effective marketing tool.  Two of the most popular general social networking websites are Twitter and Facebook.  Keep reading to find out more about how an organization can use both Twitter and Facebook to broaden and engage it's customer base.

With roughly 400 million users worldwide, Facebook is the most popular social networking website around.  People like Facebook because it's a great way to keep in touch and with so many members finding friends is easy.  Users on Facebook keep others informed by updating their "Status" on their "Wall". 

Facebook has separate public pages specifically for businesses, bands and celebrities, though many people choose to just make a personal page for their business because it gives you a few more options.  One thing you can't do with a public page is send a friend request, which means you are limited in terms of making connections with potential fans. One way to get around this is to set up a public page then add a personal page to the same account.  You can then use your personal page to find friends and then suggest these friends "like" your business.  With a public page, instead of becoming "friends" with your business, people can "like" or "fan" your business. When someone "likes" your Facebook page, all of their friends will see that they "like" it and will be encouraged to also "like" your business through their news feeds.  Ideally this creates a wider and wider base of fans.   Each time you post about your business all your fans will receive the message on their news feed.

To create a facebook page go to  The sign-up form is to the right, if you decide to create a public page for your business click on the link at the bottom that says Create a Page for a celebrity, band or business.

Once you are on Facebook make sure to...

  • Edit Your Settings:  Allowing other Facebook users to comment on your Wall is a great way to get feedback from your customer base but in can be risky.  People could comment using inappropriate language or say things that reflect poorly on your business.  Make sure to arrange your wall settings in a way that you're comfortable with.  Facebook also offers a Discussion Board that allows you to post topics and illicit feedback from fans.
  • Get A Vanity Link:  Once you have 25 "friends" or "fans" you can add a vanity link to your page (example: 
  • Create A Calendar of Events:  If your business offers classes, workshops or hosts special events make sure to use the Events section to post them on your Facebook page.
  • Join Networking Groups: A networking group is a page created around a specific topic where Facebook users interested in this topic can connect and communicate with each other. There is bound to be one related to your business and this is a good place to make connections with others in your industry.  Anyone can create a group, so if there isn't one that fits you could make one.
  • Add Links And Pictures:  Make sure to add links to your website and, if your business sells products, add pictures and information about them. 
  • Update Your Page Often!

If you want to take it a step further, Facebook also offers pay-per-click advertising.

Twitter is a real-time information network.  It's used to keep others updated about what is going on right now.  A "tweet" can only contain 140 characters including spaces and punctuation, so your message has to be short and sweet.  They call it Twitter because twittering is the sound birds make to communicate with one another.  People choose to tweet about all kinds of thing; traffic jams, upcoming concerts, a cool experience they have just had.  It has also become very popular with businesses.  It's a whole new way for businesses to connect to customers and give them the inside scoop on what's going on inside the company.  One feature that sets twitter apart is the fact that you can set it up to work with you mobile phone.  You can send and receive tweets with text messaging.

To sign-up just go to and click on the "Get Started Now" button.

Once you're on Twitter make sure to...

  • Learn The Lingo:  Twitter is easy enough to use but there are a unique set of terms that need to be learned in order to fully understand what's going on.  Fortunately Twitter has provided a page explaining the terms go to to learn more.
  • Personalize Your Page:  Make sure to add a picture or a logo.  You will also want to add a short yet descriptive bio about your business (you are limited to 160 characters).
  • Start Following Others:  The more people you follow the more likely they are to follow you back.
  • Retweet:  On Twitter you are actually encouraged make other people's tweets your own, it's called "retweeting".  Make sure to follow other people and businesses in your industry and retweet anything you think your followers would be interested in.


Marketing Your Twitter and Facebook Pages
The best way to market these pages is to treat them just like your website.  Make sure to add the links to your business cards, email signatures and other marketing tools.  You should make sure to link to them from your website as well.  Facebook especially has many neat looking widgets that can easily be installed on your website.  There are also many design websites that offer free icons that you could use as links.  They come in numerous shapes and colors so you should be able to find some that match the layout of your website.

Hopefully this helps, if you have any questions or concerns please let me know.

Sources and Further Reading:

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Milly Welsh
Zebralove Web Solutions

Milly Welsh is the Priority Learning webmaster and Owner/Operator of Zebralove Web Solutions, a web development company located in southern Maine.
Zebralove Web Solutions



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