Small Business News | Marketing tips for entrepreneurs

According to Growing Business, a new web portal and LinkedIn group have been launched to offer free advice for businesses on how to get the most from their online presence.

Created by the author, Ian Whiteling, the website contains blogs from web experts on how companies can promote themselves better over the internet. Alongside this is a social media discussion group, which features a panel of experts ready to answer the queries of businesses looking to develop their web presence.

By joining the groups one can then post up queries on anything from website design, implementation and content to search engine optimisation, email marketing, internet advertising and social media.

To find out more, please visit the Growing Business website.


Small Business Opinion | LinkedIn VS Facebook – What is best for Small Business?

Recently. I got posed a question following my blog post about the benefits of LinkedIn, “Can Facebook ever rival LinkedIn for small business use?” It’s an interesting point. Both sites excel in different ways.

Facebook – More than just Farmville

A well organised Facebook profile for a business is a hugely valuable tool. It’s fair to say that Facebook is becoming increasingly embedded in Internet users’ everyday lives and the site currently boats in the region of 400 million active users; over half of them log into the site daily.

A look at Facebook’s own demographics shows that 1.5 million local businesses have active fan pages and these have been ‘fanned’ by more than 5.3 billion people. Indeed, on an average day, 20 million users fan a page on Facebook. That’s a vast number, and a little shy of half the total users registered on LinkedIn. If you get Facebook right, the benefits are obvious.

LinkedIn – Not just a job board

LinkedIn as I’ve previously discussed has a largely professional audience, according to the sites own analytics, over 52% of Linkedin’s users would be considered business decision-makers, with an average annual income of $107,000.

That said, both sites have their obvious strengths, weaknesses and of course, similarities. You can create a personal profile, update a status, blog, join and form groups, and network with new people you may or may not have met yet. Another similarity of the platforms is the integration with Twitter, widely acknowledged as a leading traffic driver these days.

What is best for small business?

To work out which is best suited to your businesses need, first answer this question, “Who do I want to reach; Consumers or other businesses?” This simple question will largely dictate which platform is best for you.

If you are trying to reach a consumer audience, or perhaps you’re a not-for-profit organisation, Facebook would be your number one choice. Most people use the site as a way of connecting with friends and family, not to talk business, but don’t forget, these friends are potential customers too.

Since Facebook launched fan pages last year, its opened a whole new sphere of business interest. Fan pages allow you to build specific tabs to your own design with Facebook’s own take on HTML code, Facebook Markup Language (FBML) and most importantly, customize the URL for the page too. Additionally, you can integrate with Flickr and display galleries and photo streams of images, host polls, videos, documents and include any number of 75,000 other applications too. This post by Social Media Hound describes the benefits in more detail.

LinkedIn is a very different beast and if you’re looking to target key business decision makers, look no further than this site. Unlike Facebook, most people on LinkedIn are there for business reasons only. Indeed, gone is the relaxed and friendly attitude of Facebook; LinkedIn demands the same level of professionalism as the workplace. The purpose is to be able to network — to have access to your contacts’ contacts, and in that way further your professional outlook. You want to find a job? A new sales opportunity? Information about a client? Here’s a way to do that.

With over 55 million professionals on its books, LinkedIn really is THE address book for communicating with businesses. Neat features such as recommendation and groups allow you to offer thought and obtain feedback and opinion from peers, building you and your businesses brand.

That’s my twopenneth on the subject, but leave a comment and let me know what you think about these two platforms. Which would you choose for your business?

Small Business Basics | Are You LinkedIn or Out?

During the past eighteen months, the popularity of social media has exploded. Hundreds of millions of consumers have begun ‘liking’ Facebook, tweeting on Twitter and we’re all becoming ‘LinkedIn’ to the new knowledge economy. Amongst my colleagues at Cisco we’ve seen a noticeable change and we’ve all begun testing new apps, sites and blogs; Twitter has seen the competitive streak in us all come out as we try and up our followers!

With all the recent talk of Twitter and Facebook, it’s easy to forget the oldest, and one of the most useful social media tools that has quietly been arming itself for the challenge ahead. LinkedIn was founded in 2003 and now has in excess of 50 million active users. Users spread across a range of demographics and in the last twelve months, it’s become an invaluable tool for savvy small businesses looking to market themselves to a wider audience. In fact, the number of ways LinkedIn can be used is quite varied.

We recently asked our followers on Twitter how they use LinkedIn and we got some interesting responses. Varying from a social network for ‘adults’, networking tool, job board and several stated as a discussion forum, it would appear that LinkedIn is just about whatever you want it to be.

“How does this relate to me and my business?” you might ask. Well, LinkedIn is a huge resource for small businesses and enables you to connect with organisations outside your normal circles. Where else can you directly message potential clients, find new staff and have a peer network of several million, all in one place? If you’re not on LinkedIn, this should give you plenty of reason to get involved and create a presence for your business on the site.

In my next post, I’ll explain how to get the most from LinkedIn, and show you that while the Internet is constantly changing, one thing remains true;“it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.