It seems that today there is no limit to how we are able to connect with people via the internet. Most of the people Facebooking and Tweeting on a daily (or hourly) basis have a vested interest in connecting. I am speaking about those of us that make our living selling online. If you run an online business, you know about social media.
Some have embroidered this marketing trend to the fullest, while others have shunned it. Think you do not want to reconnect with schoolmates you have not seen in decades? Think again. These people knew you before you were a wife, a husband, a mom, a dad … a business owner. Unlike the dreadful small talk we are forced to end at awkward business networking functions, 'catch-up' conversation with old friends comes naturally. Sharing a common point of reference from your past, you are able to reach out and share 'good old days' stories. This is not only refreshing personally, it can be the start of a casual, yet profitable business networking relationship.
You have a greater chance at developing strong networking connections with old classmates, be they former BFFs or just mere acquaints, than a stranger at a business mixer. To ignore a networking tool like Facebook is to turn your back on a free, easy and fun connection to hundreds of potential customers, investors, partners and consultants. It is worth the time and effort setting not only yourself, but also your business up with accounts on these social media / social networking websites.
It is important, if not urgent, to note that there is an unspoken code of ethics when it comes to marketing your company via social media. You should be 'you' and not a weird, unfamiliar salesman version of yourself. When alerting your list of friends or followers to the fact that you even own an online business, you should do it in the same manner in which you might recommend a great restaurant. In other words, take care not to seem pushy or greedy. Mention that you have set your business's page up on Facebook and you'd love it if everyone 'become a fan' (which is the terminology used on Facebook for business pages.) On Twitter, include a link to your site (preferably by first visiting a site like tinyurl.com to condense the URL) and let everyone know that you would love for them to check it out.
If you get lousy results (no one 'fans' your page on Facebook and you can see from your Google Analytics that no one came over to your website via the link you 'tweeted' on Twitter) be patient. Bulk up the content on your company's Facebook page. A couple of times a month (between casual personal FB communications) update your status with something relevant to your business. The same thing goes for Twitter – tweet to your followers that you have added new products, services or content to your website. These things are all acceptable, but in moderation. Do NOT tweet each time you get mentioned in the press. Do NOT update your status on Facebook letting everyone know each time a 'great new product was just added to your website.' If all of your communications to the FB or Twitter community are business related, be prepared to see nothing but lousy results.
I have followed these 'rules' and had a nice amount of success on Facebook. I now have repeat customers that were once fellow Girl Scouts. I have also secured some great exposure for my site on prominent product review blogs through Twitter.
Since I found that social media sites work well for my business, I have since connected my WordPress blog to Facebook. This way, each time I add a post to my blog, a new note pops up on my business FB page. This casually shows up in a box on my personal FB page – not as a headline / status update – but literally as a side note. It is prominent, but not in their face. So, relax, have fun with social media and you can not lose, as long as you remember to be 'you'.