Hate Twitter and Facebook? Get Over It.

Most business owners hate Social Networking. I don’t blame them. They have enough to do and now there’s this gorilla in the room that refuses to be ignored.

I’m going to tell you briefly how to get started in a non-stressful manner.

The main thing is simply to set up a Twitter and business Facebook account. I don’t care if you open the accounts and let them sit a few days. Just do it.

As you learn to use these tools, whenever you think, “This is stupid, it’s a waste of my time,” back off a little. Don’t let your blood boil over it. Just be sure to come back every few days or so.

Start off with Twitter. It’s easy. Just go to Twitter.com, sign up, put your website on your account, and tweet. Your tweet will go off into the vast Twitter stream and likely not do you or your business one bit of good. But, at least, you tweeted! Good job. Have a stiff drink and restore your manhood.

Of course, you do need to get some followers to tweet to. So you need to search for some folks to follow. You can start out by looking at the followers of your competitors or a complementary organization. You do a search for the name, then on the right you will click on their logo or image, then you will click on the heading that says “Followers.”

For example, a sporting goods company in Fresno, California might look at the followers of the Fresno Grizzlies. Then he could follow their followers. They have over 5000 followers so just click the follow buttons until you get tired. (There is probably some software out there that does this automatically, but we’re just doing the basics here.)

Once you start following people yourself, many of them will follow you back. You can also ask for followers from your website, your Facebook account, your email signature, etc.

For now, don’t worry about what you tweet. Just have a little fun with it. If you’re a chocolate shop and you have a special offering, go ahead and tweet about that. It could go something like this:

Handdipped Chocolate strawberries today. 3 for $1. Shaw and Blackstone. Fresno.

Let’s say a woman from Dallas just landed at Fresno-Yosemite International. She has a hankering for chocolate. She does a search on Twitter on her SmartPhone. She types in “chocolate” and “Fresno.” Your tweet pops up. She turns on her geo-mapping and makes a beeline for your store.

The other thing I recommend you do, is simply watch the Twitter stream. The stream contains the posts of the people you are following. Yes, a lot of it will be much ado about nothing. But you will get ideas as you watch all those people go by.

Remember, even if you don’t make direct sales just having a significant presence in Social Media is going to have an influence on how well your website ranks on search engine results pages.

Keep in mind how you will build your reputation, too.

Matt Cutts of Google said this past December, “We use Twitter and Facebook links in ranking as we always have in our web search rankings, but in addition we’re also trying to figure out a little bit about the reputation of an author or creator on Twitter or Facebook.”

As you learn to use Twitter (and Facebook) keep in mind how you are going to build your reputation. Most likely, that shakes out to mean how many times people mention your name in their tweets and how many times they retweet your posts.

After you get comfortable navigating Twitter, really have some fun with it. Try not to be stodgy and coporaty … this is not the place!

Of course, go ahead and post interesting links that are timely. But try to think of other original things as well. If you sell a boy his first skateboard, write about how excited he was and what he said at the checkout. Or what a young husband said as he purchased his first “family” vehicle.

Facebook is a little more cumbersome to set up. If you’re not familiar with it, have a friend or professional help you. Just be careful to set up a business Pages page (formerly Fan page) and not a Group page. A Pages page allows the public to see it and is unlimited in how many friends you can have.

As with Twitter, strive to be creative. Just because something hasn’t been done on Facebook or Twitter doesn’t mean you can’t be the first. Again, be nice.

Katherine Andes, our SEO consultant, is a web specialist who focuses on copywriting for SEO (search engine optimization) for websites. She is the co-author with Matt Pinto of the best selling Catholic apologetic flash cards, Friendly Defenders. Ramp up your company's online impact with her weekly Easy Web Tips.

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