County businesses go 21st Century with social media

<I>Kathleen Ellyn/Chieftain</I><BR>Art Hill uses graphics to help his audience of business owners understand how social media can be used in marketing.

It was standing room only for the Social Networking workshop in the ESD lab in Enterprise Feb 25. Business owners from across the county sat down at computers and bent their minds to a new and highly profitable way of developing markets.

The concept was new, but with the assistance of Art Hill, VP for Economic Development at Blue Mountain Community College, workshop attendees did not find it difficult to grasp.

By the end of the workshop business owners understood how to use new media tools like You Tube, twitter and Facebook to direct customers to their web page and ultimately their store.

They additionally learned how to develop marketing plans based on customer feedback, how to use the website and You Tube to provide customers with valuable information that kept them coming back, and how to pursue new or value-added markets revealed in customer communications.

Local marketing professionals Stacy Green of Stacy Green Marketing, Moses Frederic and Joe Whittle of Mojo Marketing and Janis Carper of Second Chance Productions added comments based on their own experiences to clarify how using electronic media worked.

"Your Facebook site can help you identify your market - age, region, local or national - and identify the word and phrases customers use so that you can use those to pull more customers to your site when they enter these words in a search," Frederic advised.

The beauty of the electronic marketing tool is that it is free, Hill said. Using it properly, however, takes time. "You want to ask yourself, 'what is my goal here?'" he said. Keeping that question in mind was also important as business owners built a practice website. Even if they opted for a website built by a professional at a later date, the exercise of building a free site of their own was like using a yellow tablet to sketch out what they wanted, Hill said. "By the time you go to the professional, you'll be able to say 'this is what I need,'" he said.

Participants in the workshop are eligible for free advising on Web marketing through the BMCC Small Business Development Centers and special pricing on SBDC webinars for the next 12 months.

Another marketing workshop is planned in the near future.

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