A few weeks ago I was in Lake Tahoe for some meetings. One of our sessions was a presentation about using social media to market business. They were over a hundred mortgage loan originators in the room, but when the speaker asked how many had a Facebook page, or used Twitter specifically for business, less than a dozen people raised their hand. This surprised me. What didn't surprise me was that all of the people that raised their hand were under 45.
Most people have found the benefits of using Facebook to find old classmates or share photos with family and friends. Likewise, scores have discovered that Linked In helps to connect with business associates, clients, or aids in a job search. I have some friends and family members that love Twitter. I have to admit, I have yet to find my love for this medium. I'm still working on it, but so far I find there is too much noise.
If you work, you should have a Linked In page. That includes working for a company, yourself, or even volunteer work. It is a great venue for networking and there are seemingly infinite numbers of "Groups" to join to generate discussions and connect with like-minded folks.
Facebook isn't just for sharing photos of your family or announcing your mood to the entire globe. It is a phenomenon how many millions of people use Facebook. Many of them are your customers, or potential customers. The most annoying thing about Facebook are some of the games like Farmville or Mafia Wars. My news feed will sometimes get clogged up with my "friends" progress on one of these games. I'm sure there is a way to block that stuff, I just need to figure it out. Also here is a bit of advice, do not post anything on Facebook that you don't want EVERYONE to know. Employer background checks often include visits to Facebook to find out more about the candidate.
Twitter is a beautiful idea. Short and sweet announcements that get shot out to all of your "followers." My advice is to be discriminatory in who you follow so that you aren't tweeted with too much nonsense. Likewise, don't tweet a bunch of gobbily-gook like, "Life is a beautiful gift so treasure each day." That may be true, but I will probably stop following you if that is the depth of tweets I receive. I (and your followers) want useful information.
More people are getting on board with social media for business, even the over-50 crowd. Click the links on the right for my Facebook and Twitter pages. I promise not to publish any gobbily-gook.