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Wyoming Business Tips for Oct. 25-Nov. 3


October 19, 2009 — A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center, part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Anya Petersen-Frey, WyomingEntrepreneur.biz regional director

There is so much out there on the Internet and the new "social media." How do I know where to start? Susan, Cheyenne

Social networking sites and services such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are essentially online hangouts that have evolved into a sales tool for business. With the right approach, they can help you promote your business at a very low cost and sometimes no cost at all.

I'll introduce just the three tools mentioned above but stress that there are many choices. It can be helpful to re-visit your entire marketing strategy and then explore how social media will fit into your goals. A WyEn.biz counselor can assist with that process.

Facebook offers several applications for promoting your Web site, products or services. Creating a Facebook page for your company means that you can share information about your business with about 220 million Facebook members. Gaining viewers, called fans or friends, to your page takes time and new material must be maintained. Asking people you know to join your page is the first step. There is also a choice to pay for premium advertising for a more targeted approach.

Twitter is a case of instant messaging meets social networking. Members share what is happening right now. Tweets, as the short 140-word posts are called, have a short shelf life so are best used to make company announcements, spotting trends, posting new products or short-lived specials. The fun part is that you can begin to link your tools -- such as Facebook and Twitter -- to reach a wider audience.

LinkedIn, a more traditional platform for business networking, is useful for business-to-business relationships. Think of it as a global chamber of commerce. Create a profile that will help other LinkedIn users find you as an individual or company to do business with.

Begin by exploring these social networking sites, perhaps "follow" or become a "fan" of businesses or people who interest you and you will get a sense of how the sites work and the benefit they can bring to you. Remember to maintain and build your brand online by keeping a consistent message that ties back to your other marketing activities.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, e-mail wsbdc@uwyo.edu or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY 82071-3922.

Posted on Monday, October 19, 2009

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