Claiming Your Piece of the Internet – Facebook and Twitter

A business wouldn’t even think about not claiming their physical space. Yet, almost as important in today’s economy, many small businesses are not claiming their virtual spaces to their own detriments. Much like intruders come into a real world space and destroy an image through graffiti, your virtual space brand may be getting destroyed without your business even knowing it.

Whether you’re on the top two players in social media – Facebook and Twitter – or not, people are talking about your association or business there. If you don’t believe me, go to twitter.com and in the search box at the top of the page, type in your businesses’ name.

At the very least if you’re a business you should see Foursquare check-ins. But you’ll probably also see both negative and (hopefully) positive feedback about your business.

Since the first businesses started in antiquity, people have been talking in the marketplace about them. But, for the first time, with new technology, these conversations are taking place out in the open and you can participate in the discussion.

Starting on Facebook and Twitter is easier than you might think. And you don’t need a professional social media person to do it.

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Facebook guides you step-by-step at Facebook Pages. They offer business support and advice that is second-to-none.

Twitter has no special pages. A business page looks just like any other. However, this equal footing is not a bad thing. People on Twitter begin to interact with businesses as “friends” rather than service providers. And, not surprisingly, this companionship leads to increased loyalty. Starting a Twitter account is as easy as typing twitter.com into your favorite web browser, and filling in the name of your business, an e-mail address, and choosing a password.

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At first, both Facebook and Twitter can seem overwhelming. Especially if you haven’t used it with a personal account. But there are a few simple starting rules that you can keep in mind that will have your Twitter account buzzing in no time.

1. Be personal. Twitter especially is a very conversational site. While you can get away with posting press releases, people are looking for interaction. Be sure that a human voice shines through in all of your posts. Professionalism still needs to be maintained (i.e. watch your use of curse words), but you don’t need to take on airs. No one will want to interact with a robot! Also, make sure to upload a photograph of either your business or your logo on Twitter. The default avatar, an egg, is looked down upon by most users.

2. Be friendly. It’s important to always post on both sites in a friendly, welcoming voice. When a negative comment comes up, it’s important to follow basic rules of customer service. Put yourself in the commenter’s shoes and try to understand the situation in full, asking as many questions as possible. If necessary, send the person a message behind the scenes and attempt to resolve the conflict. The last thing people want is to witness a business owner losing their cool online.

3. Be available. A good rule of customer service on social media is to always respond within 24 hours. If you can do it sooner, all the better.  Facebook comments all show up on your page. Twitter comments about your business (that are addressed to your account) will show up if you click on the key on twitter.com on your page. Use your best judgement as to which comments you need to respond to.

As far as content goes, this will be discussed in-depth in another blog entry in the future. For now, just make sure that you’re participating in the space. You will be surprised how much of a difference it makes. As the old saying goes, 90% of success is just showing up.

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