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Monday Mornings with Madison



To round out our discussion of social networking, let’s take a look this week at Facebook and Twitter. The fact that these sites are being used for business purposes by major corporations is a recent phenomenon, and many companies today are still lagging far behind in putting this type of social media to work for them. But Facebook and Twitter have rapidly become legitimate, competitive and effective tools for even the most grown-up companies—this isn’t your teenager’s toy anymore!

Facebook was conceived one October evening in 2003 by Mark Zuckerberg, a Harvard sophomore who was looking to create an online photo directory of his fellow students. Membership was gradually opened up to other Ivy League schools and then to high school students, but it wasn’t until April 2006 that Facebook opened up registration to non-students. Expectations were modest; one major industry website predicted that “while the rollout will likely create buzz in some circles, [we] don’t think you’ll see [a] phenomenal viral exponent or use patterns over time.”

Fast forward three years, and Facebook is now the world’s most popular social network, with more than a quarter of a billion active users who interact in dozens of languages ranging from Afrikaans to Welsh. Hundreds of thousands of corporate pages have been developed for Facebook by major companies, and according to a recent study by interactive marketing agency Rosetta, 59 percent of the100 top U.S. retailers now have Facebook sites. Even Russ & Daughters, New York’s famed purveyor of smoked fish and caviar on the Lower East Side since 1914, has a Facebook site with hundreds of hungry fans!

When they are successful, these ccorporate pages allow companies to interact one-on-one with their fans, post news, videos and links, and invite people to participate in special promotions or events. Regardless of the size of your company, Facebook can also work for your business. Here are some basics that can help you immediately make use of this marketing tool.

What’s on your wall?

Think of Facebook as your office desk or walls. Most of us have on our office desk or walls a few photographs and some artwork, perhaps a timeline of important accomplishments, framed quotes and news headlines, and other memorabilia that relates to our professional life. You can upload this material to your Facebook “wall” and give others an understanding of what your company is all about. Facebook does offer you the option of controlling which pages on your profile can be viewed publicly, which means that you can limit some pages to your personal family and friends. It’s still wise to only upload material that will not harm you or your company in any way.

Update frequently As with all social media sites, you have to update your pages frequently to keep viewers coming back. Post a variety of items that the average customer will find interesting, from updates on new products to pictures of company events. Maintain an active company calendar, highlight any promotions that you’re offering, and add links to pertinent news and interesting websites.

Learn from the masters Visit the Facebook pages of large corporations like Dell, Starbucks, Best Buy and others to see how they are using Facebook to interact with their fans. And make sure to keep up with what the leaders in your own industry are doing on Facebook

Spread the word Let your customers know that your company is on Facebook and invite them to visit, share and communicate. Post your link on your website and on all official company communications.


Twitter is one of the newest members in the social media family and also one of the most popular. It is a free micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to the author's subscribers, who are known as followers. A young software architect named Jack Dorsey came up with the concept in 2006 and chose the name Twitter because he felt that the word’s dictionary definitions—"a short burst of inconsequential information" and "chirps from birds”—captured the essence of the service.

In the beginning, Twitter did sound like an inconsequential product. Who would want to read posts all day long about what other people were doing? But people love to socialize in different ways, and it turns out that many do enjoy getting a steady stream of little updates from their friends or the companies that they like. Twitter is now the world’s third most used social networking site, with millions of subscribers and a monthly growth of over 1,000 percent. And as we saw in the wake of the recently disputed elections in Iran, Twitter helped millions of people evade a government’s attempt to suppress information.

It’s very easy to get started on Twitter. Open up an account with your name or your company’s name, and fill in a short bio about your company and a link to its website. Then you can begin to receive tweets and people can start to follow you as well. The more people you have following you, the greater the impact you have when you post a message. Here are some tips on using Twitter.

Find followers

Search for keywords related to your company or industry and then follow everyone who is talking about this topic. Most of them will in turn begin to follow you and this will help you build a good following.

Keep focused
Keep your tweets focused on topics of concern to your readers. You can announce a new product or a sale when you have one, but in order to keep people interested, you have to write about broader industry news or updates.

Read tweets If you enjoy a person’s tweets, look up his or her followers and begin to follow them as well. This, of course, will increase your own following and help you to find like-minded people who will enjoy what you write as well.

Reply to tweets When you reply to someone’s tweets, all of his or her followers will see your answer. They can then check out your bio and follow you if they like.

Ask questions Twitter is one of the best and easiest ways to ask people what they think about any subject. Ask for thoughts about products, services, problems, issues and ideas and you will get many responses.

Tweeter specials Create specials only available to tweeters, such as a sale or coupon. This will create interest in your account among your current followers and the message will end up getting forwarded to new people, who will then start to follow you and add to your customer base.

“Once a new technology rolls over you, if you're not part of the steamroller, you're part of the road.” Stewart Brand

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