Social Networking for Grown-Ups » The Glass Hammer

By Elisabeth Grant (Washington, D.C.)

By now you’ve heard of social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and social networking (interacting in these different online spaces). In fact you may be sick of hearing about it!

Perhaps you have Facebook account, and maybe you’re even on Twitter. While these sites can offer great ways to keep up with friends, share photos, and be part of an online community, social media also offers important business opportunities as well. While you have to be careful what you post online (”Don’t Get Dooced“), don’t pass up the chance to make connections, brand yourself, and use social media in a business savvy way.

Out of the Playground

Social media may have started out as a diversion for teenagers and college students. But, in recent years, as Diane Garnick, Investment Strategist at Invesco Ltd. (and noted social media practitioner) explained:

“Social media stopped being a Generation Y playground and became an important tool for discovering, cultivating and expanding business relationships. Bridge the gap between you and your competitors by expressing your best ideas in an electronic forum the entire world can see.”

Social networking isn’t just for “kids” any more. The White House is on Facebook. The Library of Congress is on Twitter. Social media has evolved into a space where serious conversations can take place, and important information can be released. It allows for new ways to communicate with the public, with clients, and with potential clients. The best feature of social media is that it’s opt-in. People become your fans or friends on Facebook and your followers on Twitter, because they’re interested in what you have to say. Therefore, your message is more effective when you send it out: it’s reaching an targeted and relevant audience.

Grow Your Personal Brand with Social Media

Mary Gillen, a business owner who wears many hats (including writer and web developer) maintains the blog Learn One Thing where she offers ideas on marketing, social media, blogging for business, and more. When asked about how social networking has helped her business, she explained, “in my experience, participating in social media has brought me better rankings in the major search engines, which then leads to business, because people can actually find me that way.”

She cautions that it’s both “important not to ignore this ’shift’” to social media, but equally as important not to jump in blindly. Instead, she says, “start simply, and build on your skills as you go.”

Social media allows your audience to find you in multiple ways. Stumbling across your Facebook wall or Twitter feed can lead people to more information on your web site. Your web site or blog (or the best case, a hybrid of both) is your “online business base,” says Gillen. Your base is “where you post and publish content that educates visitors about what you do. You can then use your social media accounts like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, to drive traffic to the content on your site.” Tweet news of a promotion on Twitter with a link back to your web site. Post information about an upcoming event on Facebook and your “fans” immediately know.

The more social media options you use, the more opportunities you have to catch different people’s interest. Mary Gillen encourages you to “re-purpose and publish what you know as your ’story’ in different ways: videos, ebooks, blog posts, slideshows, Tweets, Facebook Fan Page postings, LinkedIn Answers etc. This gives folks the chance to understand that you know what you are talking about. This process then contributes to their decision to do business with you.”

Facebook and Twitter Tips

Need more some concrete tips to see how social media can help you promote your business and business self? Here are a few to get you started.

  • Business Appropriate – On Facebook, keep personal content (photos, statuses, private information) hidden by tweaking settings and creating lists (like Work, Friends, and Limited). On Twitter, be consistent. Don’t tweet a link to a business article one day and a note about what your cat just did the other day. Set up separate Twitter accounts for business and personal uses.
  • Email Signature – Include a link to your Facebook page and your @Twittername in your email signature, so that every email you send out alerts friends and colleagues of your presence in social media.
  • Interaction – Make contact with other people on Facebook and Twitter. Intelligent and constructive comments can lead people back to your social media pages or web site. And retweeting shows that you’re listening to what others are saying and you’re involved in the Twitter community.

Posted via web from AndyWergedal