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I’m often advising clients that they should make sure that they have a business page on Facebook.  If they have information that they want people to know about, it’s another handy avenue to generate interest and business.

I just stumbled upon a page that helps you to know what size the images that you use for the profile and cover sections should be.  And now that you want to be aware of smartphones too, they also show where images will be cut off on smaller devices too, so you can plan accordingly.  Check out https://www.facebook.com/PagesSizesDimensions

Facebook and Twitter

Twitter is a micro blog, or mini blog. You can only use 140 characters in a single post. It is simple to set up, very public is a one to many platform. One post can go viral. This is done by a Tweet being re-tweeted. When you re-tweet you can have 160 characters to allow for the new address.

How do you get followers? The best way is to mention your account to people on your website, in person and on all your advertising or paperwork. And write interesting posts and they will tell others. You can also follow other Tweets and your name will show up as a follower.

What should you write? The rule of thumb for a business Twitter account is a third sales and marketing, a third general company info ie. General information what you do, how you can help people, about your staff, promoting other clients etc. And finally a third industry news. New and exciting advancements in your particular business, laws that affect your business and re-tweets by followers.

You should have things like free items for followers, valuable knowledge to pass on, calls to action (if they do something in a particular time, they get a bargain)

Another aspect to Twitter that larger firms are using is searching what has been twitted about themselves. It is good to keep your finger on the pulse of how your company is being perceived out in the world. Many large companies are now using Twitter for their customer service.

Facebook

Facebook is different in that you aren’t limited to only a few characters. You can have links, images and movies. It’s almost like a website in itself. It is more structured and has rules. There are distinct pages for businesses called “pages”. Here, your followers are called “fans” rather than “friends”. Pages must be linked to a personal account, so you have to decide who in your company you can rely on to hand it over should they leave the company and who wants it linked to their own account.

Once you set up a Page, you will want to choose an image that best reflects your company, and that is usually your logo.

How often to post to your “wall”?

It’s a good idea to have a plan of things that you will post, so you don’t spend unnecessary time looking for ideas of what to post to your page. Like the Twitter advice, it is important to make it interesting enough so that fans who have signed up want to continue getting your updates and even share it with their friends. If you are a retail store, it could be information about an exciting new product that you are introducing, a restaurant could have a new menu being announced. Non-profits would have information about someone they’ve recently helped or details of an upcoming fundraiser.

How often to post depends on your business and how much time to have to devote to Facebook. You don’t want to post so often that you turn off people, but if you leave it too long they may just forget about you! Likely once a week or bi-weekly for a small business, and a couple of times a week for a big company with lots of news. But it is completely up to your own business.

How to build a following?

Announce your new page through email marketing. You can use an existing database of email contacts to start yourself off. Put it in your email signature so that everyone you email to, gets the news. Put up physical notices in your place of business. Link to it on your website. And tell all of your friends in your Facebook world and your real world that you now have a business presence too.

You can also follow other companies through your page, and they can do the same with you, creating other avenues for creating new customers.

Here is a timely article about customer service and Social Media.

Be afraid, be very afraid

I have noticed that there is a lot of interest in the sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and it grows even bigger. I find it funny that even though I am computer savvy and enjoy my work, I can’t drum up any interest it these social networking sites. It’s hard to get excited with the idea that people you left behind in high school can now look you up and revisit your past. I have friends that are addicted to their Facebook pages to the detriment of the relationships in the here and now.

But the other thing I worry about is privacy. Especially since I appear to have a stalker. It’s a bit sad, but this person seems to search the web looking for items about me. I’m not particularly interesting, nor am I famous, but it is scary to know that someone can find out information about you that you have thought was fairly private and safe.

And I am glad that I don’t subscribe to Facebook, or Twitter to people about the boring details of my day. And if I want to find out what my friends are doing, I call them up and ask them!

That doesn’t mean I don’t like the technology that we have to keep in touch. Far from it. We are able to talk often to our relatives in Scotland and London easily and it is just like the cartoon family the Jetsons portrayed that we can view them smiling at the same time!

Just remember that everything you write on Facebook and sites that are similar are read by more people than you think. Students going for jobs have their sites looked at by more than their friends; a young man who was about to be sentenced and was portrayed as full of remorse for his drunk driving was pictured on his page, drunk and partying with his friends just prior to being sentenced! No remorse shown there, but who would have thought that a prosecutor would have been looking at that page!

Two weeks after Joshua Lipton was charged in a drunk driving case, the college junior attended a Halloween party dressed as a prisoner, with the words ‘jail bird’ on his costume. Not surprisingly, his prosecutor was able to obtain photos of him at the party that were posted on Facebook, and claimed he was an ‘unrepentant partier who lived it up while his victim recovered in the hospital.’ The photos were presented in a slideshow, with one of them showing Lipton holding a can of Red Bull in one hand, and an arm draped around a girl bearing sorority letters. The judge agreed with the prosecutor, and changed Lipton’s sentence to two years in prison. The article also cites other instances of people getting harsher sentences from pictures of them posted online.

So apart from behaving yourself, which is always a good idea, it is best not to leave a trail of things you would rather people not know about you. It takes a long time for that information to disappear even after you have deleted it.

It is also likely a good idea to change your passwords on accounts you have such as email, banking etc. as well as being careful what you write in blogs such as this, and the social networking pages. You never know who is reading or looking over your shoulder.

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