Local businesses use social networking


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Social-networking sites may seem like just a way to meet new people, but for Tony and Dawn Evans, social networking helped their business take off.

Five years ago, when Tony Evans quit his job at a Wal-Mart deli, he knew very little about window cleaning.

Today, he and his wife — also known as Mr. and Mrs. Squeegee — use social-networking sites to get in touch with other business owners and clientele.

Online forums have been a huge help to the Evanses in their business, New View Window Cleaning. Window cleaners gather on the sites to discuss methods and new technology, post videos, and even arrange conferences, he said.

“I’m pretty active in some window-cleaning forums where we get a lot of our information,” he said. “It helps us to cut down on our learning curve.”

He also joined the social-networking site Twitter around a month ago and has amassed around 60 followers.

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Other local businesses are getting in on the action, too.

North Liberty-based Bagolitas, founded by Janice Baldes, started selling handmade bags out of her basement in 2005. Today, the company has a website, Facebook page, Twitter account, and blog.

Jayne Oswald, a marketing assistant for Bagolitas, said this has helped the company build stronger relationships with their clients.

“We created it as a way to create that personal connection with our customers,” she said.

Panchero’s, 32 S. Clinton St., has taken social-networking sites one step further, says Reid Travis, the Panchero’s social-marketing director.

In addition to using Twitter, Facebook, a blog, and several other social networking sites, he also uses Google Alerts and a feature on Twitter that tells him whenever Panchero’s is mentioned. Sometimes, he even joins the conversation.

“This is where people are,” he said. “This is where they’re talking and hanging out.”

Julio Ojeda-Zapata, who has written about technology for more than 10 years and is the author of the book twitter means business: how microblogging can help or hurt your company, said Twitter is a way for a company to convey its personality.

“The whole point of Twitter is for companies to have a human face,” Ojeda-Zapata said.

However, Ojeda-Zapata warned that a company must first know what it wants that personality to be.

One thing is clear: Social-networking sites have expanded their appeal from college students to business owners.

“Twitter is not just for individuals anymore,” Ojeda-Zapata said. “Companies can use it in a number of highly effective ways.”

For Mr. and Mrs. Squeegee, social networking has become essential to the operation of their business.

“We were getting responses within the first couple of months from the website,” Evans said. “It’s been very, very beneficial for our business.”

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