Online social networking is not just “social” anymore. It has become an integral part of business networking as well. In our final segment, here’s a look at two of the internet’s biggest, Facebook and LinkedIn, and how they can be used for business networking.
Originally started as a social networking site for Harvard University students, Facebook has exploded far beyond its original scope. It grew slowly at first, allowing other Ivy League students on board, then expanding to all college students, and finally to anyone age 13 and over. In fact, ask anyone in their early 20’s about Facebook and you just might get a disgruntled reply that “my parents and grandparents are taking over Facebook!”
Users create Facebook pages which allow them to link to Facebook networks, organizations and causes. People can search for other Facebook users by identifiers like high school, college, and other shared organizations. Users extend a Friend Request to people they would like to follow and have access to their personal pages. This is different from Twitter where people can just follow you and do not have to have an approved request. Your Facebook page can include personal info, photos, links to stories, and numerous time wasting games and diversions. The explosion in usage for those over 25 can be linked primarily to using Facebook to reconnect with old friends and with family.
LinkedIn is a business-oriented site that focuses on professional networking. Similar to Facebook, you set up a page and people request to be linked to your professional network. Far different than Facebook, however, is LinkedIn’s primary goal of professional networking.
So, how can Facebook and LinkedIn be used to promote your business? Your Facebook friends are a great audience to tell about your business, your accomplishments and your expertise. After all, word of mouth is one of the best ways to get referrals, so keeping you and your business top of mind with others is vitally important. And LinkedIn can help establish you and your company as experts in your field and communicate that message to an audience far beyond your immediate contacts.
Setting up a specific business page in Facebook is also effective. Kevin York with Art4orm did that recently for the new home sale his company promoted for two Portland-area builders. “We just launched our new Facebook page for NewHomeSale.org,” York said, with the goal being “to not only give them information about this large builder sale but to also educate them about the home buying process.”
Angela Todd of Angela Todd Designs uses her Facebook page as another landing spot for her blog posts, utilizing an RSS feed to take the info from her regular blog and post it to her Facebook page. She also uses the Facebook Status Updates to post thoughts, comments and tips on interior design.
Online social media and the tools used to implement them are a new and fast growing part of business marketing and communication. If you feel left behind, don’t, because most are just learning about it and figuring it out. But it can be an important part of every businesse’s coordinated communication plan. So, wade into the social media pool, test out the waters a little. Soon you’ll be swimming right along with everyone else.
Kevin Curry is a partner in Command Consulting. You can follow his online social media in these places:
Company Blog: www.CommandConsulting.com
Personal Blog: www.ThinCurrent.com
Facebook and LinkedIn
How do you navigate these growing new medias successfully? Todd and York offer some thoughts:
– Todd: Give credit to the source when you use photos or concepts that aren’t your own. Link to them if it is listed online.
– York: Keep in mind it’s in real time and live to the world. Make sure that you post is clear and concise. Don’t leave anything open for assumption.
– Todd: When you finish a satisfying project, are acknowledged by your peers, win or are nominated for an award, teach a class, make an appearance, or do a non-profit project for goodwill, let your network know. They want to see you successful and they will remember you as a subject matter expert in your field.
– York: Don’t over think it and have fun. Building your network of friends or fans should be exciting.