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

Women Wednesday Blog Hop

Creation|Collaboration was set up by eight women, all existing friends, who run small businesses from their homes. They started the Women Wednesday blog hop to link up with other women in business, spread the word about Creation|Collaboration and basically just have fun visiting new and interesting blogs.

Find out more about the blog hop here.
 

Ten Ways To Get Free Publicity for Your Business

I'm proud to introduce my latest guest blogger, Mums The Boss, otherwise known as Sam Pearce and Helen Woodham. Mums The Boss is THE Bedfordshire networking group for Mums in business and they recently celebrated their first birthday. Here are are their top ten tried-and-tested free (or nearly free) publicity tips.

In our first year in business we have spent the princely sum of £30 + VAT on promotional activity, paying for an insert service which interestingly had a zero return on investment! However we have managed to appear in the local press 3 times, the national press once, and have been interviewed on our local radio station. We have had a double page spread in a local parenting magazine distributed to over 10,000 mums through the school book bags, been featured on numerous websites and been promoted by several business agencies. We have also secured free venue use, free business advice, free business books and had over 20 prizes donated to a recent raffle. And we’ve done all this without ever having to resort to bribery or blackmail. So, how have we done it? We are proud to unveil the Mum’s The Boss Guide to free (or very cheap) publicity!

  1. Be Friendly – if you are approachable and friendly when you meet people, chances are people will remember you and be more willing to help you out in the future. A warm smile and taking an interest in people costs nothing at all.
  2. Barter – if you can’t afford to pay the going rate for a service, barter some of your product or a service of your own in return.
  3. Think Outside The Box – publicity doesn’t have to be paying for advertsing space. Think creatively about what is newsworthy about your business – or make something newsworthy happen – and submit it as editorial to the press. And think about all your contacts, and whether they could promote you to their client base, spreading the word through word of mouth.
  4. Know your audience – if you know exactly who your audience is it will be much easier to reach them by targetting your promotion accordingly. That way, if you do end up having to pay for advertising, you will save a fortune by reaching the right people first time.
  5. Use the Internet – take full advantage of the many sites and forums that you can list your business or event on for free. All it will cost you is your time. Make good use of all the social networking sites you belong to, such as Twitter or Facebook – they are perfect for spreading a message ‘virally’ as well as a fantastic way to make invaluable business connections and pick up free business advice.
  6. Blog! – if you haven’t already done so, start a blog. If you can attract a good level of readership your blog can become a fantastic medium for you to barter with, offering to promote businesses or review products in return for a favour.
  7. Be Different – the press likes good news stories or things that are quirky or unusual. If there is something unusual about you or your business then capitalise on this. If not, can you engineer a story with added interest, by linking your business to an event, charity or something topical?
  8. Add Value – if you are asking someone to do you a good turn you must be able to show them what’s in it for them. This may be something tangible like a complimentary product, or it could be as simple as giving them access to your contact network or promoting them on your website or blog.
  9. Be Cheeky – if you don’t ask you don’t get, and sometimes if you just have the confidence/brass neck to ask for a freebie or a discount people are surprisingly happy to oblige.
  10. Pay People in Cake! – This one NEVER fails. When bartering for people’s time, expertise or use of a venue always offer to bring homemade cake. Works every time!!

We are by no means PR Gurus and these tips are non industry-standard – they are just things that have worked for us and allowed us to enjoy a certain level of publicity for free! Do you have any creative ideas or tips for getting free publicity? We’d love to hear all about them (mainly so we can try them out ourselves)!

Creative Commons License [nohide]photo credit: Steve Snodgrass[/nohide]

The magic of Twitter

I’ve been feeling a little uninspired lately and struggling to write posts for this blog. Nothing serious, just a side effect of being at the beck and call of two tiny children and the inevitable sleep deprivation that comes with it.

So when I saw the quote “Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still” it struck a chord with me. The quote came from @Homebiz_Mag, otherwise known as Mag Furness and I’d never heard of her until last night. I liked the quote so much that I retweeted it (copied it so that my followers could read it).

It must have struck a chord with @mumstheboss (otherwise known as Sam Pearce and Helen Woodham, who I’ve actually met face-to-face a good few times) because they retweeted the quote too.

Now I know that Sam was suffering from bloggers block yesterday – you guessed it, because she tweeted about it. So this morning  I was delighted to find Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still” had inspired Sam to write this blog post. Brilliant!

Yes, Twitter suffers from a lot of hype and spam, and it’s the best way of wasting time that I know. But what a fantastic way of connecting with people and passing on ideas.

Start your business for less than £30

If you’re an aspiring mumpreneur, you might be wondering where on earth you’ll get the money to start your business.  True, there are some businesses that will always need a bank loan for a hundred thousand pounds, but it doesn’t have to be like that. Did you know…?

  • If you want to do some market research, Survey Monkey is a free tool that you can use to create an online questionnaire.
  • You can get a website with a shopping cart from Mr Site for £19.99 for your first year. No technical knowledge is needed because you use templates to create your site. (There are other similar sites, too).
  • Vistaprint do free or cheap business cards, postcards, fridge magnets, t-shirts, pens…..you name it, they can print it for you. (If you go for the free products, you’ll need to pay postage.)
  • If you need a simple website with perhaps a photo and some info about you, you can set one up in minutes for free at WordPress.com or Blogger.com
  • There are loads of websites that you can use to listen to and connect with potential customers for free, including Twitter, Facebook, BT Tradespace, EcademyLinkedIn and web forums where your target market get together. Check the rules for each, some allow business promotion and others don’t.

After a few months or so, you’ll probably want to find yourself a web designer, graphic designer or a printer that will give you more freedom and a less generic look.  By then you’ll have proved that your business has a market, found your first customers and hopefully earned yourself some cash.

It’s never been cheaper or easier to get a home business started. What are you waiting for?