Saturday, May 1, 2010

Social Networking – Just Do It!

If you still think that social networking is for kids – think again! According to Facebook’s site – the fastest growing demographic of their 300 million users are 35 years old and older. If you aren’t using Facebook and other sites like Twitter and LinkedIn to promote your business you’re missing an opportunity and likely falling behind your competitors who are!
If you’ve never used these sites – the idea of entering the world of social media can seem daunting and intimidating at first but once you go there you’ll likely wonder why it took you so long!

There are so many advantages to using these sites for promoting your business. First of all these sites are free to use. Secondly they are a great way to keep your business “front of mind” to current and potential customers and they are also a great way to make connections and network with other like-minded business people.

I recently spoke with an insurance company that has been resistant to social networking and in fact prohibits use of these sites by employees in the company. After learning of the potential marketing power of these sites - the company decided to give it a try. They are now using Facebook to offer insurance tips and advice. They are using this site to build credibility, increase visibility and reach out to an audience they likely wouldn’t be able to reach through other means.
A jewelry artisan I know posts new pieces to Facebook and often sells them before she posts them to her own site!

To get started – I suggest you try Facebook first. Just sign up and start by looking around for other businesses that are using the site and see how they are using it. I would caution you not to “sell” on the site as that can turn people off – but rather to provide information and updates as to what your business is doing. You can start with a personal page and you can set up a Fan page for your business specifically. The key is to just start! We’re all new at this. This is a new world. We’re all learning as we go. But you have to be there! Only a few years ago – the question people would ask is, “Do you have a website?” Now they ask “Are you on Facebook or Twitter?”

I use these sites to talk about this column, my radio show and to provide other information of value to small businesses. I also enjoy connecting with family and friends both old and new. These sites can be great tools to promote your business and re-connect with that long lost friend from your hometown who may even want to do business with you. Start slow – but just start! You’ll be amazed at the results and have fun too. My parents are both on Facebook. If they can do it – you can do it! When you do be sure to “friend” me!

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