Web 2.0 – Are you in (Part II)

Following up on my earlier post about social media and family businesses, I offer this primer on some of the more common tools that currently exist.

Twitter – Certainly Twitter is all the rage recently and has garnered many of the headlines (Time, June 15, 2009). In the last year, Twitter has experienced a 1,298% growth according to a Neilsen report in April. The largest portion of growth is in the 45-54 age demographic. “Twitter-ing” allows you to micro-blog – only 140 characters at a time. Twitter has become a community of followers who share updates in real time. For your business, it provides a great opportunity to track similar businesses and news sources. It allows your customers to follow events and progress at your company or maybe even in your personal life.

I feel Twitter is a great place to start because it can be the least time consuming. I chose to update the Fambiz2point0 Twitter site (www.twitter.com/fambiz2point0) typically only once or twice daily. It is also a good exercise in scanning your periphery each day for relevant news and happenings that may relate to your business.

My Twitter tips:

  • Start slow
  • Brand your site
  • Link to homepage
  • Shrink your URL’s
  • Keep followers and following in balance
  • Search within your niche

Facebook – The lines between professional and personal seem to be continually blending. Facebook continues to grow due to the many adult “late-comers” now populating Facebook, once only the domain of college and high schoolers. More and more businesses now have pages on Facebook. It is a good medium to share links, photos and generate conversation amongst your community of fans and friends. Any update or wall post to your business or personal page will also be broadcast on all of your friend’s pages. Setting up[ a profile is easy, but it can also quickly become a time-suck. You can also create a personal URL for your personal profile and for your business profile (if it reaches 100 fans). The Vermont Business Center Facebook page can be found at: http://www.facebook.com/vbc.vfbi.

My Facebook tips:

  • Keep it professional!
  • Create Fan page for your business
  • Update frequently, but not obsessively
  • Link to other sites
  • Share news articles
  • Comment on others pages and photos

Linked In – I believe Linked In is a tool that has not reached its potential yet. Think of it as Facebook but ONLY for business. Linked In has also grown steadily as the economy has slowed due to job seekers searching their networks for those connections which might pride an “in.” Linked In allows you to post your professional experience and associations. It can also provide a means to “Connect” to others via your extended network. Linked In is also a great place to create groups for your business or association. They can either be public or private, allowing for members to post news stories, start conversations and share job openings. Feel free to connect to me at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dannvdv.

My Linked In tips:

  • Link BIG!
  • Complete your profile
  • Connect with connectors
  • Solicit recommendations
  • Create a group, public or private
  • Post slides or links to blogs

Other great social media tools for family businesses

  1. Family Business Wiki – The mission of the Family Business Wiki is to “create a publicly available resource to share family businesses knowledge around the world.” The Family Business Wiki features a Family Business Townsquare (a Facebook for family business), a wealth of academic and advising resources, and a calendar listing of events related to family business. Find the wiki at: http://www.familybusinesswiki.org.
  2. Google continues to be innovative and is making inroads many gadgets which can be added to your site, including Google Friend Connect (http://www.google.com/friendconnect/home/overview?hl=en_US) and Blogger.
  3. Slideshare allows you to upload Power Point presentations and pdf’s. This can be a helpful resource if your business has presentation materials or product catalogs. Be careful of posting proprietary information. Check out the Family Business 2.0 Slideshare site: http://www.slideshare.net/dvdv.

While there is much to learn, a good strategy to start is “crawl, walk, run.” Be wary of the infamous drain on time, but also I believe you’ll find that just a minimal immersion into these technologies will keep you relevant, informed and positioned to build your brand and expand your reach in a very cost effective manner.

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