Social Media: The Rise of Twitter & Facebook for Businesses

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I’ve just returned from  a visit to my home state of Florida to surprise my father on his 60th birthday.  While not a lot has changed in the six months since my last visit–it was still very hot in May, the mosquitoes weren’t any smaller, and the beaches were as nice as ever–I couldn’t help but notice the increased popularity of social media for businesses.

Granted, social media is popular in the UK, but it seems that far more businesses and organisations are using Twitter and Facebook in the US when compared to the companies over here.  From the independent coffee shop, to the huge department store, it seems that every American business is connecting with fans and customers via social networking.  Now, I didn’t find this out by trolling Twitter and Facebook to see which of my favourite businesses had their own pages.  No, these companies seemed to take every opportunity to let me know they were using social networking sites.

The restaurants I ate at had Twitter and Facebook icons and URLs on their menus, accompanied by urges to follow them.  I bought some new clothing while I was there, and one of the tags on a shirt featured the URLs of the designer’s Twitter and Facebook pages. While driving, I noticed the URLs of Facebook and Twitter pages proudly displayed on signs outside of a number of different businesses and organisations, including veterinarian offices, churches, and auto repair shops.  Store windows were plastered with decals featuring domain names and social networking icons, and local and national businesses mentioned their Facebook and Twitter pages in tv adverts.

Facebook has over 500 million active users, and Twitter has approximately 200 million users (although the number of active users is anyone’s guess); these social networking sites provide businesses with access to a huge number of individuals and organisations, so it’s no wonder American companies are trying everything they can think of to get more followers.  Plus, smart phones are hugely popular in the US, as well as the UK; over 250 million active users access Facebook from their smart phones, so customers can become followers in just a matter of seconds while at a table in a cafe or a fitting room in a store.

If your company doesn’t have a Facebook or Twitter account, now is the time to create one.  If you’re not sure where to start, here are some suggestions to help you along:

  • Read the help topics for Facebook pages for businesses to learn a lot of what you need to know.
  • Check out Twitter for Business to find out more about how to use Twitter for your company.
  • Decide who will be in charge of your business’s social networking.  Ideally, this person should have some experience with social media, familiarity with your company’s brand and practices, and the time and creativity needed to successfully gain followers and interact with the public.
  • Determine how you want to use your Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Do you want to use them to provide customer support?  Will you be asking for feedback on Twitter and Facebook?  Figure out how you want social networking to work for company.
  • Prepare yourself and your employees for negative feedback in a public forum.  The person in charge of your Facebook and Twitter account will inevitably be on the receiving end of criticism, and it’s important for them to know how to handle it.
  • Create a Facebook page and Twitter account for your company (try to make your account name the same as your company’s name).
  • After entering your contact and company information, spend time branding your Facebook and Twitter pages with your company’s logo and colours.  Your social networking accounts are extensions of your business’s website, so make them look polished and professional.
  • When your Facebook and Twitter accounts are ready for the public, encourage people to follow you on Facebook.  Make sure you put icons linking to your Facebook and Twitter accounts in a prominent place on your website (don’t put them in the footer of your homepage–most users won’t bother looking there).
  • Find more places to put the icons and URLs for your social networking accounts.  If you’re an online retailer, can you include them in your invoices (both digital and tangible) or on your packing material?  If you have a cafe or restaurant, consider putting Twitter and Facebook icons and links on your menus and windows.  If you sell digital goods, you can easily include these icons and URLs in any emails or communications you send to your customers.  Regardless of the industry you’re in, if you pass out a lot of business cards, they should include the links for your company’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

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8 Comments

  1. On February 10, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    spark plug said:

    Social media marketing is the best way to get more traffic on your site and my site got 900 likes in my Facebook page.

  2. On July 10, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Caraffe Filtranti said:

    Right. Facebook is growing fast, there is now a shopping cart app that you can add to your fan page to sell goods, services and dital products. A must have to make some money.

  3. On June 26, 2011 at 3:21 am

    Jill @ Flooring Supplies said:

    I read a recent post about how Google give SEO points to websites that have Facebook likes and retweets. SEOmoz.org also mentioned it and other famous bloggers as well. Social media has indeed become an imminent part of how the rankings are calculated. Thanks for the information, this is very useful for everyone.

  4. On June 24, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Matt Houldsworth said:

    I am a web developer, it amazes me how many times I go into a client who wants a website re-vamp and they have never been advised on SEO let alone how social networking can build their business. I know from a recent trip to Japan that things are a lot different there as well.

    We have a great deal of catching up to do in the UK, but perhaps there are too many developers happy just to build a website and upload it for a client rather than helping them through actually getting the most out of their online presence.

    Many also think that as they are not selling online then perhaps it is wasted money investing in social media, clearly this is not the case as you can engage with your clients directly, however, there is always the problem of how you gauge the success of the effort put in to social media in this case.

    Give it another year or two and I think the UK will start to catch up.

  5. On June 19, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Mark Anthony Viola said:

    I have yet to go to a restaurant that had a twitter “Follow Us” advertisement. Even McDonalds doesn’t have that. To tell you the truth it might actually detract from the prestige of an restaurant if they add that. I mean yeah, it’s great to have twitter followers so that they can be updated on your business but for an eating place, it seems inappropriate.

  6. On June 18, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    SEO in Basildon said:

    A great article with a great bullet point list for small to medium sized businesses to use.
    Social Media is so important these days, I’m always telling people so – I agree with you entirely!

    We use Twitter, Facebook and Youtube on our website Herald Web. We think that all of them are important, and we get people involved by having our latest tweets displayed on our homepage underneath three buttons to our favorite social media networks.

    Facebook is great, because you can instantly connect with a lot of friends and as soon as you get over 25 likes on a business page – you can get a facebook.com/mybusinessname .

    A great article that I’ve just forwarded onto a friend of mine, who asked me where to start with social media! Good stuff.

  7. On June 15, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Job Blogger said:

    Social websites have come to stay. Anyone who is not using it is actually lagging behind and will be considered as not being a part of this century

    • On June 25, 2011 at 12:29 am

      Bartending Jobs said:

      I’ll go one step further. If you weren’t on a social network a few months ago you’re already behind. Focus needs to really be placed on going mobile now too.