With over 300 million users, Facebook offers a small business a plethora of prospective customers to establish a client base. However, it can also be an extremely overwhelming arena to target your specific audience if you’re a small business beginning your venture in social networking. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that Facebook offers brilliant, inexpensive marketing opportunities for small businesses that can truly enhance your clientele. It can be an influential platform on which your company can build a strong social presence. Join the Facebook realm—it’s a strategic business move that many of your competitors may have already made, so why wait?

 

If creating a Facebook account for your business is your first experience with this social network, we suggest signing up for a personal account first to understand how Facebook works before launching a company page. Learning the in’s and out’s of the site through a personal account will let you observe how other companies use Facebook to bolster their business, which will help you decide how you want to structure your page for the likeness of a customer when the time comes for you to create your own business page. It’s important to note that if you make a personal page and reserve your company name for your personal account, you won’t be able to use it for your Business Fan Page because Facebook prohibits a party from registering multiple account identities.

 

After understanding the ropes of how Facebook works, you should next research your competition’s Facebook pages and gain some insight from how their pages are built, how many friends “Like” their page, and what kind of posts, photos or videos they use to promote their business. If you already have a personal Facebook account, but don’t know how to extend that presence into a business platform, Facebook offers you several options. You may register your company’s Facebook identity as a Business Account, which is a very basic and straightforward way to establish your existence in the business world on Facebook. The only downside is that there are many strict limitations on what you can do through this type of account. The other option, which is generally more preferable, is to create a Business Fan Page. By doing so, supporters of your business (and prospective customers) can register as a “fan” of your page, and what you post on your company’s page will show up on the newsfeeds of your fans’ personal accounts. This is an extremely valuable option for businesses because it can track your loyal customers, update them immediately with new products and services, and inform them of relevant information regarding your business.

 

Twitter, like Facebook, has established one of the strongest presences on the Internet. Likewise it can be used as a valuable marketing tool for your business. When creating an account on Twitter, choose a username that represents your business; you can still choose to tweet using your own name, but reserving a username in the name of your business is important so that people can find your company easily upon searching for it in Twitter. What if the name you want to use is already taken? Try to create a name that is close to the company’s name as possible—its all about being as clear and recognizable as you possibly can.

 

The next step after choosing a strong and personal username is to find people who you wish to follow. If it is someone you’ve never met before, don’t hesitate to request to follow them—in the world of Twitter, its typical to follow people who you do not know. For example, search for people who share an interest in what you sell by searching for the hobby or profession that your business is founded upon. The in’s and out’s of Twitter, just like Facebook, take some time getting used to—so don’t be afraid to jump right in. Both Facebook and Twitter are informal arenas that encourage you to get involved and establish relationships with people, so do just that! Follow whomever you think is interesting…you never know, they may follow you in return and mention you in a tweet! Creating your Twitter community is important because it allows for dialogue while informing your followers of whatever you feel may interest them. That’s the beauty of Twitter: its informal, and thus takes the pressure off of promoting your business because you already have accomplished a strong group of followers paying attention to what you offer, now you just have to keep them interested!

 

As the amount of your followers increase, don’t get lost in promoting your business and forget about the personal connection with customers: talk about or mention your followers in your tweets rather than solely your business, it helps gain stronger support and interest by making your tweets personal. With both Facebook and Twitter, reading up on the pages or profiles of those who are fans or who follow you is crucial because it helps you better understand who your customers really are. With an understanding of their interests or other daily information, you can start a dialogue with them, or perhaps send them a link that you think they would find appealing. Opening this door of communication is exactly what you want to strive for when jumping into the world of social networking.