Social networking helping businesses grow - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Social networking helping businesses grow

By Nicole Johnson  bio | email | Twitter

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - It is a growing advertising trend, and your business can reach millions of people for free. Social networking is helping businesses gain customers and increase sales.

Starting a new restaurant can be a challenge. "It's really difficult because you have to figure out marketing and getting your name out there. It's been kind of hit or miss with us. A lot of word of mouth has gotten us up to this point," said Chris Dolan, co-owner of Crave Mount Pleasant.

Dolan says social networking site Twitter has helped business boom. He logs on to Twitter daily, and right from his cell phone he updates followers on food specials, like the two for $52 couple's deal.

"Next thing I know is we have five couples coming in saying 'Hey, I loved your tweet today. Loved the fact that you sent us that information. That's what brought us here tonight.' It's just amazing how you get that instant response," said Dolan.

Digital media expert Michael Carnell says using social media to advertise your business can be effective if used the right way. The most popular sites to find potential customers include Twitter, Facebook, Digg, MySpace and LinkedIn.

"What you should do first is listen. Find out what your customers are looking at. You want to be a part of their community, not an interruption trying to sell them something," said Carnell, the owner of Palmettobug Digital.

Other top tips for Twitter include: engaging in conversations, using people's Twitter name, learning the lingo, like "hashtag," "@replies," "retweet," and "direct message."

Dolan says up to 30 percent of his customers come in after seeing Twitter or Facebook messages.

"With Twitter, that one friend becomes a lot more friends; they're focusing on the good, and telling their friends. Word of mouth is spreading like wildfire."

Social media experts say Twitter has 6 million users and 21 million visits a month. Be sure to follow the Live 5 News twitter team.

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