Andy Lopata, a co-author of two networking books and one of Europe’s leading networking strategists

“The most popular social networks – such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter – are not business networks in the true sense, having been created for social use. However, businesses are increasingly embracing them.

“MySpace is the home for bands, artists and others in the entertainment industry. Other businesses have been more comfortable using Facebook and Twitter, but many of them slowly and reluctantly. I still find that most of my clients, particularly those working for larger organisations, are unsure about using Facebook despite the growth of business pages, fan pages and pay-per-click advertising. Those that do use it prefer to focus on using it for social purposes.

“Twitter has an unfair reputation of being a waste of time, with the common put-down being why would you be interested if someone’s having a coffee? But savvy business people are raising their profile through Twitter, using the network to share their blogs, build their reputation, ask key questions and more.

“It’s a great way of keeping your finger on the pulse of business and world affairs and to engage with your network. It’s also incredibly viral, with your followers happy to share your wisdom with the click of a button.”

Alan Stevens, founder of Media Coach and a social media consultant

“The key thing about social media is not just broadcasting, but measuring the impact of what you do. There are a number of tools out there that can help you do this. In that way, it is
just like any other form
of marketing.

“Listen to the buzz. By that, I mean use Twitter’s search function to see what other people are saying about your company. It is immediate feedback and often pretty raw. You need to put a filter across it and not get annoyed with people who make extreme comments. Instead, ask yourself why they are saying these things. Because it is real time, you can get out
a very quick response.

“I would advise having a face on your Twitter profile. For instance, there is a guy at Carphone Warehouse who tweets for the company and, because he is a name, people are happy to engage with him. You have to be responsive, which means having someone monitoring what is going on.”

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