Green Shoots

A journey in optimism, ethics and enterprise

Can businesses benefit from Twitter and Facebook?

I guess you’ve probably figured I’m a bit of geek. I love tinkering to see what I can make technology do for me now. ¬†Perhaps for that reason social media is at the sweet spot of geekness and fun for me. Making connections and enjoying the random serendipity of link following and ¬†“meeting” people online.

Of course there is potentially a business benefit of Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and the rest of social media tools. But I am not convinced that simply paying for a wonking great banner ad on a social media site will achieve much more than burn your marketing budget very fast. Social media is about engagement, involvement, transparency and a little honesty too.

Ooops - that's not the way win friends on social media

Ooops - that's not the way win friends on social media

If you’re a business leader, key decision maker or marketing director thinking about using Twitter or Facebook for business then take a deep breath before you jump in. In fact my advice is do nothing official for a few weeks. Open your own account, post a few entries and seek to understand what social media is actually about. As George Colony of Forrester research put it in his personal blogSocial [technology] is like sex. It’s fun to talk about and read about, but you can’t truly comprehend unless you do it.” Have some fun – see who you meet and then think more carefully about exactly if and how you want to use it to meet your business needs.

Of course, there are some (unwritten) rules to figure out if you want to be successful. Be interesting, be honest, be transparent and don’t seek to plug your own cause at every opportunity. People soon get bored of a perpetual advert no matter how differently you think it is being spun.

There are some examples of people who have got it right – Tony Hsieh has built up an almost cult level following 575,000 followers.

There are also some examples of people who have got it wrong – although they are much harder to find. Amazing how quickly the errors of judgment disappear from the social media space (even when mere mortals usually have no power to delete things). There was a good example this week. Randi Zuckerberg a senior marketer at Facebook and sister of Mark Zuckerberg founder of Facebook posted a message on Twitter “Worst bar ever = apothecary in NYC. Worst bouncer ever = james. It would be a huge bummer if their facebook pages “accidentally” went down.” You don’t have to be good in PR to know that threatening to take down someones Facebook page out of spite when you work for Facebook isn’t smart. In fact this Tweet disappeared very quickly – although not quickly enough to stop Google from spidering and cacheing it as shown in the picture above. Doesn’t breed a sense of trust and honesty in social media if go around making threats that one can only assume you can actually deliver on!

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