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Is Social Media Worth Your Time?

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Do you have time for social media? Chaitanya Sagar, founder and CEO of small business outsourcing company p2w2, makes an interesting point about the use of social media in a new post at Open Forum. Larger organizations -- media companies specifically -- have the time and resources to maintain a hefty Web presence through the use of social media. But for a small business owner or entrepreneur, "If you spend two hours a day on Twitter and Facebook, that is 25 percent of your day!" says Sagar. So how does one use social media in a way that ensures an ROI for the time spent? By focusing on marketing your brand instead of expecting direct sales, Sagar suggests, which includes boosting traffic to your site, creating relationships with customers, and making your company known for something. "If you expect immediate sales from social media, you will be disappointed," he says. "But if you have this perspective, you will be able to use social media for the right reasons and save a lot of time." Check out Inc.'s guide on How to Use Social Networking to Drive Business for more strategies to implement through your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.

How bank failures will affect small business loans. As the recession ends, there will be an estimated lending shortfall for small business of as much as $250 billion to $500 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. The government's reaction will likely be to provide banks with incentives for increasing lending to small businesses, such as a proposed $30 billion small-business lending fund that will provide capital to smaller community banks. Despite the proposed program, the treasury expects increased borrowing costs and interest rates as the economy recovers. "It won't be that people are closed out of getting credit; it's that credit will become more expensive as the economy heals," Assistant Treasury Secretary Alan Krueger said.

About that Twitter announcement. We told you yesterday that Twitter CEO Evan Williams was expected to announced a long-awaited business model at the annual South By Southwest conference. Oops. In fact, Williams surprised observers by making a minor announcement--Twitter is releasing a system that allows publishers to access it within their websites--and insisting that the social network was still experimenting with ways to make money. "We haven't turned on the revenue yet, there's a lot of low-hanging fruit, but none of it is sustainable," he said (via TechCrunch's liveblog). The latest thinking regarding Twitter's plans: A business model will be announced sometime this Spring, according to All Things Digital.

Social network, Ning, swaps CEOs. Netscape co-founder and Ning chairman Marc Andreessen announced the other day that the company's CEO, Gina Bianchini would be stepping down. Bianchini, who Fast Company named one of the most influential women in technology will not be going far; she is joining Andreessen's new VC firm Andreessen Horowitz as an executive-in-residence. Fortunately for Ning, COO Jason Rosenthal was primed to fill Bianchini's shoes. Wonder if they read our guide on how to hire a CEO?

Is right-sizing Detroit's best option? In a blog post in today's New York Times, Harvard economics professor Edward L. Glaeser argues that perhaps shrinking the fledgling city might be the best way to return it to its former greatness. That's the approach being advocated by Detroit's mayor, Dave Bing, a former NBA star and successful steel entrepreneur. As Glaeser points out, the last 50 years have demonstrated that areas with a large number of small companies have grown more quickly than places dominated by a few big firms. Of course, right-sizing a city is a far more difficult task than right-sizing a business. For example, Mayor Bing has proposed closing schools, discontinuing city services to Detroit's scarcely-inhabited areas, and even bulldozing blighted buildings and turning them over for alternative use.

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