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Use social media in your small business? Share your story

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Use social media in your small business? Share your story

By CraigColgan
Published: February 12, 2010


Author Laura Fitton describes an experience typical to many new users of social media:

'To be candid, Twitter sounds idiotic at first,' she says in this interview. 'It's true. But it's also true it's changed my life and career a bazillion ways. I've gone from homebound mom of two babies under 2 to solidly booked, traveling around the world and extraordinarily well-networked.' As well as the author of -- you knew this was inevitable --- the brand new Twitter for Dummies.

I want to know: What is the experience like for those who have decided that social media engagement is essential for their small businesses right now? Is it any different from what Fitton describes? Do small business owners have time or patience to hang on through the 'idiotic' phase? In short: Why bother?

So: I want to hear your social media/business success story.

As well as your social media/business fail story.

Email them to me at craigcolgan@ymail.com. Or find me on Twitter: @ccwriter. I will follow-up to as many as I can with a few questions: What is it about your use of Twitter or blogging or Facebook or video or any other combination of social media tools and tactics that you believe makes it/them actually work for your small business? What does not work? And: How do you manage your time around all this?

Then I will blog about these stories here because I believe that many of these tales are flying under the radar. And that's a problem. Learning how Dell or Ford or Comcast or Jet Blue have invested in use of the social Web is one thing. These firms and their efforts online have drawn plenty of attention. But for the rest of us, we want to know:

For small business, is a serious commitment to social media worth it?

Now for those who I follow on Twitter, that question has long been settled. But many of these people work in media or marketing or political firms and spend their days [and nights] on computers and mobile devices all day long. The social media world has become a large part of their world. Of course this crowd says online socializing and sharing and content creation and linking -- to and with the vast world at large, not just people you know -- are essential for all business. Are they right?

How many operators of delis tweet about their businesses? How many home remodelers and farmers and workout center owners and picture framers do so?

There is no shortage of those out there offering advice on all this. My contribution to The Industry Word won't be about advice. I want to instead listen and engage with your stories and your experiences, to hunt for what works and what does not. I will ask plenty of questions. I want you to help me answer them.

By the way, I hated Twitter initially. Before I used it. The concept was ridiculous. It was marketed in a way that put off way too many people, I believe.

I actually did not use Twitter for the first time until January 2008, researching this piece for the Washington Post. I can remember a detailed phone conversation with my editor as I did my best to explain just what this new thing was, and how it worked. It took awhile.

For Laura Fitton, a description of Twitter that is better than 'microblogging' is 'microsharing.' Which to me sounds like a good distillation of the larger concept behind all social media.

So tell me your story. The world of small business needs to hear it.

And speaking of remodeling contractors who tweet: This one has 2,956 followers. And counting.

Craig Colgan is a technology and media writer and blogger based in Washington, D.C. Find him on the web at CraigColgan.com and on Twitter: @ccwriter. His email address is craigcolgan@ymail.com

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I can remember a detailed phone conversation with my editor as I did my best to explain just what this new thing was, and how it worked. It took awhile.

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