Business Networking: Is Facebook or Twitter Best?

If you’re trying to get new clients to your business, should you use Facebook or Twitter?

I use both and judging by my Facebook friends and Twitter followers I’m not alone! So it’s not really a question of which is best, it’s more about using both effectively.

I started using Facebook to connect with family, friends and old work colleagues and it’s been great for that. It’s an amazing way to get keep up to date with people, especially those you only see every few years. I started out with Twitter just over a year ago and I loved it. I still do. I’ve used it mainly to connect with mums in business and to spread the word about Business Plus Baby.

I didn’t want to bore the pants off friends and family by talking shop…

I tried to keep Twitter for business and Facebook for friends and family, but it didn’t work. The people I met on Twitter came and found me on Facebook!  I didn’t want to bore the pants off friends and family by talking shop, so I set up a Facebook page. The Facebook page was doing pretty well, but I still kept getting the friend requests from business folk. Then it clicked – people want to connect with people.

I’ve heard it said that Twitter is better for business and Facebook is better for personal use. Broadly speaking that might be true, but social media blurs the line between business and personal. Increasingly we want to deal with an individual within a business, rather than a faceless organisation. The people you work with become your friends. And then we all end up on Facebook together!

So clearly the answer was to use Twitter and Facebook in tandem. Here’s where I’m up to so far…

I use Hootsuite so I can a) post to my Twitter account, Facebook profile and my Facebook page in one place and b) so I can keep track of what the people in my various Twitter lists are tweeting. I don’t think Twitter would be useable without Hootsuite, especially as I have over a thousand followers now. (You could use Tweetdeck or other programs instead, though).

What I love about Twitter is that you can just let the conversations drift by and then jump in on one you like. It’s simply, snappy, fast and furious. You never know who you’ll meet and where it might lead. For a long time Facebook felt heavy and clunky compared to Twitter, but using Facebook for business now is starting to click now.

I did get really frustrated with Facebook for business networking a few months back, but I persisted because everyone else seemed to be using it! Lets face it, it’s crazy to avoid a place where 400 million people hang around, isn’t it? I’m glad I did, as I’ve picked up some really useful information from Nikki Pepper and Penny Gregory to name just two fab people. As with so much of social media, it seems you just have to keep doing it and the benefits will come eventually. Last week Penny suggested I use Facebook lists to get around my ‘boring the pants off family and friends’ problem – I hadn’t realised that you can send out different status updates to different groups of people. Doh!

With a little practice it’s surprising what you can do with Twitter’s 140 characters, but eventually it has its limitations. So it can be good to use Twitter for making contact and small talk, then use Facebook to get to know people better. Of course it can go the other way – you can connect with a friend-of-a-friend on Facebook then get to know them better on Twitter.  Plus I think we all have our preferences – some of us just use Twitter better because we prefer it. To not use Twitter would mean you don’t get to connect with us, not using Facebook means you fail to connect with facebook lovers.

I’m also experimenting with Posterous, which I’m using when Twitter’s 140 characters isn’t enough – I’ll let you know how that goes!

I’m taking Natalie Lue’s advice and post different things to Twitter than I do to my Facebook page – otherwise why would people look at both? (And it cheers me up no end to hear her say that for a long time she didn’t know what to do with her Fascebook page either!). It’s hard to say what should go on Twitter and what goes on Facebook – they just seem to have a different feel, somehow.

Now I’ve just got to get my head around Linked In!

How do you use Twitter and Facebook together? Leave me a comment and let me know…

Image: Blog Spoon Graphics

Really Useful Website: WomansWork.co.uk

If you live in the East of England, check out womanswork.co.uk. Providing support for start-ups, the self-employed, those wishing to get back into employment or facing redundancy, established business women, mums in business and social enterprises in the Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire areas. It’s also a place for anyone to find a women-based business in her local area.

Each month Womans Work publishes a book full of  news, events, web sites,  training, networking and anything else women in the East would like to share with the WomansWork community. You can download the book for your county (or any of the counties) each month. Sign up at womanswork.co.uk and you’ll be sent an email when the books are published, then you can download them from the website.

Best of all, it’s free to include your news, events and websites.

Five Tips For Entering Awards

Awards are a great way to get PR for your business, not to mention a nice boost to your confidence! You don't even have to have been in business very long – there are awards out there for 'best new business' for example.

Joanne Dewberry, who last week won the Langtry Manor Business Women's Awards 'Business Mother of the Year Award' for her business Charlie Moos, gives us her top 5 tips for entering awards.

  1. Write a list of all your achievements, quirky things about your business, your unique selling point (USP), how or why you started your business.
  2. Ask your friends why they like or admire about you and the business. Collating this information will give you a big picture of you and your business and lots of examples to draw your answers from.
  3. Read the questions carefully. Make sure you give exactly the information they ask for.
  4. Sell yourself – don’t be embarrassed to big yourself up – this is what they are looking for! They want to hear about the great things you have achieved.  You did it and deserve recognition for it.
  5. Enter them all!  Save copies of award applications, that way you can cut and paste the information about you or your business and refine it so that it's word perfect.

Awards to look at :-

Everywoman Awards  – www.everywoman.com/everywomanAwards
Nectar Small Business Awards – www.nectar.com/businessawards
Barclays Take One Small Step – www.takeonesmallstep.co.uk
Enterprise UK – www.enterpriseuk.org

Joanne Dewberry, full time mummy to Charlie 3 and Megan 1
www.charliemoos.co.uk  and www.networkingmummiesdorset.co.uk
Winner of Langtry Manor Dorset Business Mum of the Year 2010
Highly Commended MumsClub.co.uk PR Comp 2009
Future 100 Young Entrepreneur 2009
TGF Best Rated Awards 2009
Short listed Langtry Manor Best Green Business 2010
Short listed Make Your Mark in The Markets 2010

Photo: www.andreapittam.com

This is why you’re already good at marketing…

Last week I listened to Natalie Lue of Self Employed Mum, Bambino Goodies and Baggage Reclaim speak about blogging. Natalie's name is mentioned in hushed tones by mums who blog because she actually makes a living from blogging.

Being able to earn an income from home by writing is the holy grail for many mums. It's tempting to ask 'what's her secret?' I suspect it's the same secret as for any business owner – know your customers, deliver what they want and more, work hard, keep improving, keep an eye on the finances, plan well.

I really enjoyed the presentation and learned a lot. But what really got me thinking was what she said about 21st century marketing. It's no longer a one-way-street where the seller tells the buyer about their product. These days, marketing is about the business having a conversation with the customer.

That's great news if you're starting a business and have a mental block about selling. Often, our image of selling is the hard sell; pinning someone to a wall and not letting them go until you see their credit card.

If we turn this on its head and think about marketing as a conversation, suddenly all our tension goes. Most of us are actually pretty good at having conversations.

Here's what you could talk about.

Connect with your customers

Do they like your product/service? How could you improve it? What else are they looking for? Who else is selling what they like? Can they help you spot new trends? Can you give them something so useful or interesting that they want to tell their friends about you? How could you turn them into your fan club?

Show them you're an expert

Prove to them that  you really know your stuff. Customers no longer want to be told that you sell the best widgets in the South-East – they want to make up their own mind. How can you help them to do that?

Build your brand

Try to get across what your business is about, what it stands for, its values. Again, not in an old-style 'this is our mission statement' kind-of way. Think about the things that matter to your customers – help them to solve their problems, keep them up to date with the latest news, point them towards great resources. Then let your business brand shine through what you do.

Business blogging is the best way of having this conversation online. Doing it offline involves, well, talking to people!

What kind of conversations are you having with your customers?

Creative Commons License photo credit: paris_corrupted

New Mums’ Networking Group in Leicestershire

The fabulous Mum’s The Boss is opening a new mums’ networking group in Leicester this week. If you’re in the Leicester area, I really recommend going to the Soar Valley Leisure Centre, Mountsorrel from 10 to 12 on Friday 19th February.

Take a look at Mum’s The Boss Leicestershire Launches for all the details.

For future events, see the Mum’s The Boss website.

Not in Leicester? Here’s my list of business mums’ networking groups around the country.