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40 BUSINESS


The social network


With the likes of Facebook and Twitter racking up phenomenal user numbers, Doug Morrison wonders whether business marketing will ever be the same again


Social networking sites have come and gone over the past decade, but 100 million regular tweeters can’t be wrong and nor, presumably, the 845 million Facebook users worldwide. Such extraordinary numbers bode well for the


longevity of Twitter and Facebook with their very different platforms, although arguably the latter’s first true test will come with its forthcoming $5 billion stock market flotation in America. To date, they have each found global business success by operating social media at the most local of levels and with the emphasis on “social”. Increasingly, however, these sites are being used as marketing tools for business. The potential for Facebook


here seems obvious and a threat to the established business networking site LinkedIn. With Facebook you get scale. With LinkedIn you get that business buzzword, “focus”, which is another way of saying that it has not got as many users. But with Twitter, businesses


can be really local and targeted in their promotions, as seen by Visit Greenwich and ShopGreenwich with their recent “TweetUp”. Indeed, there is a school of thought that outside the realm of big business, firms must speak more directly to their customers. To that end, software developer Fit Creative will shortly unveil Get Greenwich, an app that


is free for local retailers and other businesses to promote special offers and events. “You can’t spend online with it but it will drive footfall,” says Fit’s Jonathan Cook. Fit hopes for more than 15,000 subscribers – locals and visitors – by the third year but possibly a lot more. So far, nearly 100 businesses have indicated they will list on the app. “If you had 30,000 subscribers, you’d start to make some impact on the local economy,” says Cook. In the meantime, businesses can carry on tweeting. But is Twitter simply an enjoyable displacement activity or can you really boost sales in 140 characters? We asked two prolific tweeters – Kate Hill-Smith of the Red Door café and gallery and fashion designer and teacher Miss Libby Rose – for their views.


What got you started on Twitter and how long have you been tweeting? KH-S: “Not that long, probably a couple of months. I just thought I’d check it out.” LR: “I’ve been tweeting for a fair few years now. I remember a friend told me about it when it wasn’t as big as it is today. I was a bit confused at the start but it’s easy to link across social networks, so it makes life a bit less cluttered!”


What’s the objective – to get people to the shop or look at the website? Or is it about raising your business profile? KH-S: “I wasn’t thinking about it in that way at first. It was just kind of social because Greenwich feels very much like a little village anyway. Lots of the other shops and traders in the market are on


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