So, more and more these days I’m getting asked about social networking / web 2.0 and what on earth their purpose is. This includes websites like:
• Linked in
Now, if you’re online, I doubt you’ve managed to exist without knowing about one or more of these sites, but from a business perspective, what’s their use?
We’ll go through each quickly, but there’s some general pros and cons that cover them all:
• Greater access to customers in a non-invasive, opt in (ie the person says they want to get your twitter updates or read your blog etc)
• Using these sites allows you to put a more human face on a business
• Almost all of these sites don’t cost anything (except your time) to use
• These sites demand time. I know people who invest upwards of an hour on social network sites every day (I don’t – but it does take time)
• Like a website, if you don’t update and keep things fresh on social networking sites there isn’t much point
It’s the latest and the greatest if you listen to celebs like Ashton Kutcher @aplusk (putting the @ symbol in twitter speak means that you can find Ashton at www.twitter.com/aplusk) or Ellen @TheEllenShow who are all raving about it. In short, Twitter (www.twitter.com) was built to answer the question, what are you doing? You get 140 characters to let people know what you’re up to.
From a business perspective, I use @kirstydunphey to tweet (a tweet is a post on twitter) and push traffic towards my blog (more about blogs later), to promote listings (with my real estate hat on) and to stay in touch.
Some tweeters to check out from a business perspective include:
@zappos – Zappos CEO (service oriented online shoe store in the States)
@miafreedman – former Cosmo editor and current author and blogger
@Rove1974 – TVs Rove McManus
@ThisIsSethsBlog – Seth Godin, author and blogger
Facebook / Myspace
I’ll lump these two together because they’re really similar. Myspace used to be all the rage and in the last two years it’s become more about facebook. I maintain a presence on both, but if you’re strapped for time then it’s more likely that you’ll go with myspace if you target a younger key demographic (say 10 – 19 year olds) and facebook if you’re targeting an older demo.
Both sites allow you to connect with friends (facebook prefer you connect with people you know, whereas myspace don’t care with people often having thousands of friends they’ve never “met” outside of myspace). Graphically facebook is a little cleaner while myspace allows you to customise your profile a lot more.
Secure wise, I allow anyone to access my myspace page (www.myspace.com/kirstydunphey) because I don’t use it for anything persona. Myspace is just about business for me in terms of driving traffic towards my blog and books and keeping people updated about my businesses. Facebook on the other hand I actually use to connect with my friends so I’ve tweaked my security so that the general public can’t see much about my personal side, only really the basics and my status updates (like a tweet but for facebook).
Facebook has another great functionality though where it allows you to start groups and fan pages. We have a fan page for all our businesses and it allows others to become “fans” and show that they love the business on their profiles. It’s all just basic free marketing.
www.LinkedIn.com is like facebook but for business connections. A fabulous tool if used properly you upload your business / resume history and find people you know (the same as facebook), but from there, say you want to get in contact with an exec at IBM or any company, you can find out how, through your network you know that person. It might be that you’re 4 degrees of separation away (ie: you know someone, who knows someone, who knows… you get the picture) but linked in will allow you to trace that relationship to get in contact with that person. Another handy functionality is the ability to write referrals / testimonials about people you’ve worked with.
I use google’s free blogging site www.blogger.com to run all my blogs, but there are plenty to choose from. Blogging allows you to post online articles which can then be indexed and searched by web engines such as google. It’s a great way to increase credibility, drive traffic to your website and to give the world more of an insight into your business. Our real estate agency uses one (www.elephantproperty.com.au/blog) so that we can update people on our market, the economic conditions and what’s going on in property generally. People can then subscribe to get your blog updates delivered to their inbox (like a newsletter, only you don’t have to go to the trouble of making it and emailing it) and you can also subscribe to blogs you like reading, or a reader can simply come back to the website when they want to find out more.
Phew, the conclusion
So that’s basically it on the social networking sites I use for business. There’s a few more you may want to check out, but my advise is as follows.
• Don’t do everything! You still need time to run your business.
• Find out what works for you by employing simple and free google analytics on your website so that you can see where your traffic is coming from (if you’re tweeting like a crazy person plugging your blog, but no one is visiting, then maybe it’s not working for you)
• Utilise tools like www.ping.fm which will allow you to update your status simultaneously at all your sites so you don’t have to log into them all
• Link to your social networking on your website (see www.threadless.com for a great example of how to do this)
• And remember, if you don’t intend to update these sites, don’t bother! You’d do better to concentrate on more traditional marketing. Now... off to post this article as a blog on blogger.com and then use ping.fm to update my status on linkedin, twitter, facebook and myspace to point to it!
Kirsty Dunphey is the youngest ever Australian Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year, author of two books (her latest release is Retired at 27, If I can do it anyone can) and a passionate entrepreneur who started at age 15 and opened her own real estate agency at 21. Currently Kirsty heads up www.reallysold.com the premium online copywriting site for real estate agents and is a co-director of Elephant Property www.elephantproperty.com.au Launceston, Tasmania's only boutique real estate agency purely for investment property owners. Kirsty's other ventures are outlined at her website www.kirstydunphey.com where you can also sign up for her newsletter.