The Courtyard Marriott of Newark hosted a Small Business Alliance workshop on social media December 7th, sponsored by Cooch & Taylor. Leading the discussion was an enthusiastic, social-media savvy panel that included Lee Mikles, adjunct professor at the University of Delaware and co-author of “Engage Your Brand;” Mariah Calagione, vice president of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery;Jessica Kupferman, social media consultant at Digital Stew; and Whitney Hoffman, director and CEO of Hoffman Digital Media. In attendance was a variety of business people eager to learn how to utilize social media to enhance their company profile.
It is apparent that social media is dominating today’s market, and it is not going away any time soon. As Lee’s analogy goes, the toothpaste isn’t getting back in the tube. An important thing businesses need to realize is that consumers use the internet to research everything, specifically how to find things they need locally. Whitney explained the “Zero Moment of Truth” as the measurable point in time when consumers conduct web research before making a final decision on a product or business. Therefore whatever they see when they hit ‘search’ is what will make or break their decision. This is where social media can help (or hurt).
One must be smart about their social media campaigns, Jess explained. Instead of pushing products or services aggressively on potential clients, she suggested making 30 percent of media posts about specific products or services, and have the other 70 percent stem from the company’s values. This allows consumers to discover their need for a product or service on their own.
Another very important strategy for social media is listening to clients. Lee said having conversations with customers makes them feel special, and in turn inspires them to spread the word to their network of people. Mariah Calagione agreed with this strategy, telling the story of a dissatisfied customer at a Dogfish Head restaurant. He posted his annoyance at not being helped on Twitter, creating a great opportunity for Mariah to make a big impact. She responded directly by finding out where he was and what he was wearing, then called the restaurant asking them to take care of him. The customer was so impressed that he then posted extremely positive remarks about the organization.
Mariah also shared a well-publicized experience in which a Red Cross employee tweeted about drinking Dogfish Head beer using Red Cross’ Twitter account. This was a great example of damage control on social media as Red Cross quickly posted another tweet jokingly stating that the keys had been confiscated. The slight mishap resulted in an upswing of Red Cross donations and some free publicity for Dogfish Head.
It all may seem overwhelming to social media newbies, but there are no rules for how and when to use social media. One can be as active or passive as they feel necessary using whatever tools, outlets and schedule that works best for the business and its clients. And every business will be different as Denee Crumrine, program and communications specialist at DSCC, and Lee informed the attendees.
To close, the panel suggested Social Media Examiner and Mashable [AU1] as useful resources for learning your way around social media. For those still hesitant, Mariah suggests to pick a social media platform that works best for your business, and do it as well as you can. When you first get started, begin by listening to what others are talking about, how they compose their messages and what topics are popular. Follow or fan similar businesses, experts related to your industry and potential clients.
We thank our panelists, our host, and our sponsor for helping us put together a great event. And thank our members and guests for joining us at this informative workshop. To see our upcoming events, visit www.dscc.com!
For information on presenting, sponsoring or hosting Small Business Alliance workshops, contact Denee Crumrine firstname.lastname@example.org.
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