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Using Social Media for Business

Lately, we have been getting more questions about using social media for business and, I suspect, there are two main reasons for this:
1) Many marketing or Internet "experts" are promoting the concept.
2) Most small business folks do not have the time to look into the idea, worry that they are missing out, and feel guilty that they are not doing everything they should to promote their business.

So here are my two cents:

You can stop feeling guilty. If you are not already using social networking on a social level, it is probably not the best way for you to promote your business. Most likely, there are other more profitable and well-tested methods of promoting your business that you have not had time to do yet. Do those first.

Twitter, blogging, Facebook, etc., all take time...time to set up, time to learn your way around, and then time to use on a regular basis. If you are like most small business owners, time is in short supply already.

Only a few kinds of businesses have found good ways to use social networking to further their business goals. If your business revolves around music, movies, events, entertainment, or benefits directly from people gathering virtually in groups, you may be able to take real advantage of this new technology. But if you can't think of a reason for all of your clients wanting to hear from you on a daily or weekly basis, your business is probably not a good fit.

One exception is if you have a need for data gathering, to find out what people think, to ask a question, or to get opinions or test ideas. If you have an ongoing need for this type of feedback, social networking may be a fast and inexpensive way to get it.

To learn more about using social networking for business, try these links:

Twitter:
http://business.twitter.com/
http://www.chrisbrogan.com/50-ideas-on-using-twitter-for-business/
http://www.flyte.biz/resources/newsletters/08/06-twitter-for-business.php

Facebook:
http://webworkerdaily.com/2009/07/21/32-ways-to-use-facebook-for-business/
American Chronicle: 8 Reasons to Start Using Facebook for Business Today.