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Facebook/Twitter primer

18 January 2011

There's been a lot of hype in recent years about social networking, in particular Facebook and Twitter. While these services can be useful, it's important to remember that as a business or organisation your primary online presence is your website or blog, followed by social media.

Facebook

Facebook is basically a small website/blog where you add regular updates, photos, etc, and people can 'Like', 'Friend', 'Poke' you or 'write on your wall'. For organisations, Facebook is mainly useful if you don't already have a website or blog.

If you do have a website, then it should already contain all important information and announcements, making Facebook a waste of time. The exception being if you want to invest a lot of time/money creating a 'unique experience' for Facebook to complement your website.

Here are Facebook pages from a couple of our clients:

Twitter

Twitter on the other hand is a messaging medium. You set up an account where you regularly broadcast announcements or share links. People can decide whether to Follow you or not. The usefulness of Twitter is as a way to bring people to your blog or website.

Here are Twitter accounts from a couple of our clients:

Time investment

As you might gather from the examples above, social media can require a serious commitment of time and energy.

For an active Twitter you will be spending 20-30 minutes every day sending and reading updates - so both broadcasting and networking - and if someone 'tweets' you they will expect a prompt reply. You will usually do better using a 'personal' Twitter account and including the occasional business reference or link.

A successful Facebook page requires more time as you're posting longer messages and including more media (photos, files, video, etc.). You also need to design your page and install plug-ins for add-ons like discussion forums, photo galleries, event calendars, etc.

Like/Tweet/Share links

There is a way of using Facebook and Twitter without actually getting involved. You just add "Like/Tweet/Share" links to your website for people who do use those services. See an example.

This is mostly useful for websites with regular articles or events that people might want to blog, bookmark or share.

In any case, once you have set up a Facebook or Twitter account and want to add it to your website then we just need the URL/address and a graphic to use for the link. There are plenty of (free) examples to choose from.

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