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What are the benefits (if any) to using Facebook and Twitter?

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With more than 200 million active users on Facebook and Twitter growing 752% in 2008, what are the benefits to using social networking? Beyond the pure narcissistic tendencies and the hopes for 15 minutes of fame, there truly can be some worth to using Twitter.com and Facebook.com to grow awareness for your small business or website.

Simply put, the chances that your website will sky rocket on the Alexa.com scale* with a couple tweets on Twitter.com are slim to none. However, you can raise the awareness of your web presence by some simple steps.

1. Go to Facebook.com and create a page

Go to Facebook.com and create a page for your business or if you're a consultant, create a personal account. Load the page full of information about your business and what you sell or why you're the best. Remember, figuring out your plans for the weekend or connecting with random friends from 20 years ago isn't the main purpose of this Facebook page. Keep it professional and informative.

Make sure there is a profile picture and that you've picked a personal URL (new Facebook feature) that is easy to remember and relevant to what your product/person is all about. I suggest making an email address specifically for your "fans" so you can quantify the amount of emails you get coming straight from Facebook. That way you also don't give out your main email address for all the spammers to have fun with.  

2. Go to Twitter.com and create an account

Surf over to Twitter.com and set up an account. Make sure you keep your user name simple and avoid ReaLy AnNoYIng TeXT or weird symbols/spellings. This way you can verbally tell people your user name or potential clients have an easier time telling their friends where to find your information. Plus, hOw IrrITatiNg iS thIs tO rEAd?

Explain what you do in the best 160 characters possible and make sure that's on your profile. Twitter.com is classified as a micro blogging site so 160 characters is all you get. You'll notice a character countdown from 140 when you update your Twitter status to help remind you and guide you to keep it short and sweet. To help further increase your potential visitors, visit http://wefollow.com and decide what keywords you would like to describe you or what your product.

http://wefollow.com is a Twitter.com user directory. You three hash tags (#) with your interests or keywords about your product to help find people with similar interests.**

3. Link your Facebook and Twitter

Allow Twitter.com to update your Facebook.com account (found under settings and account tab) so that your Facebook.com status is automatically updated with your Twitter.com status. Makes keeping your followers updated easier.

4. Post your URL

Post a link to your website or your Facebook.com page. If the link is long, go to TinyURL.com to get a custom URL that will cut down the number of characters used for the URL within your post. 140 Characters goes quickly! *warning on using a mini URL& this will potentially cut down on clicks due to fear of viruses and malware from unknown URLs* So it's best to think of a link that is short and sweet that will still direct your potential clients to the right spot.

After all of that, what about the benefits? The hard numbers?

I created a website/blog and installed StatCounter.com (a free web analytic program) to track the unique visitors and page loads on my new site and then tweeted the URL and nothing else. I had no call to action, just a simple URL and with only 37 followers, my website received 212 page loads and 150 unique visitors in a 24 hour period. Granted, the numbers are pretty low if you're trying to make money from advertising or sales, however I do not actively follow or draw in followers like I would if I were truly trying to make money on the internet. Imagine if you were actively trying to get followers and actively advertising your site? Your numbers will be significantly larger than mine.

My advice with gaining more followers and thus seeing the benefit of social networking, is to "re-tweet" or "@reply" posts you've found interesting or enjoyed and take part in "#follow Friday". All of these options will further your Twitter.com reach and potentially gain more followers. Keep in mind that the more your tweet something, the more you'll show up on the public time line and so anyone checking out the public timeline will see your URL. Simply, post more often and be seen more often.

If you have any questions about how to set up Twitter.com or Facebook.com feel free to contact me by email at: Noelle [at] experts-exchange [dot] com

*To learn more about Alexa.com and how it works, visit: http://www.alexa.com/tour
** To learn more about wefollow.com and how it works, visit http://tinyurl.com/About-WeFollow 

Links to cited pages:
www.statcounter.com
www.facebook.com
www.twitter.com
http://wefollow.com
www.alexa.com
www.tinyurl.com
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Author:NSeybert
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by:WaterStreet
What a helpful article for both those who want to create awareness for their business and those to whom Facebook and Twitter are just a blur of the latest Internet social trends.  I think the article tells the business person essentially all s/he needs to know and with enough background that the user can understand why this works the way it is described.  Aside from the business view, the article gives a more-than general education in a short and easy to understand article.  All of that is a rare find.  It got my vote near the top of the page.
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