By Beth Bily
Area business people got a crash course in Social Media Marketing 101 early Tuesday morning at the kickoff Itasca Area Social Media Breakfast in Grand Rapids.
The breakfasts, which organizers say will take place each month, are part of a broader effort aimed helping local business succeed in an increasingly tech-savvy world.
Organized by three local business owners, Kathy Kooda of Computer Enterprises, Troy Anderson of White Ivy Design and Lorrie Yeschick of Torrent Technologies, the social media get-togethers are being modeled after a similar effort begun in Duluth three years ago.
Kooda underscored that understanding the relatively new marketing avenues available through social media can be challenging.
“While I work in technology all day long, social media is one of those areas where I’m deficient,” she said.
The kick off event speaker was Molly Solberg, sales and marketing director for Duluth Pack. She also helped launch the Duluth breakfast group.
Solberg began by telling the standing room only crowd of the impact social media can have. Duluth Pack now has 7,000 followers on Facebook, she said.
And, it doesn’t have to be hard.
“Reaching out to customers through social media is simply an extension of current marketing efforts,” said Solberg. “You’re already experts in talking about your business socially, so now you just do it on different platforms.”
Solberg offered the following tips for breaking into the world of social media marketing:
• Don’t overload by trying to be on too many platforms. Facebook is a good start for beginners and You Tube is a good second venue.
• Be unconventional, be original.
• Be a publisher first - it’s all about content.
• Understands what motivates your audience.
• Crown a dictator, don’t wait for a committee of higher ups to approve content updates.
• Make content fresh - change photos, post daily content
• Use Facebook to recognize special fans; ask questions such as “What’s your favorite pizza?” If people are having fun they’re going to come back, said Solberg.
• Use visuals generously.
• Have a contest. Duluth Pack had photo contest, which received 300 entries.
• Bridge on and offline marketing efforts.
• Twitter is fun, Twitter is easy - and it’s used heavily by the younger generation.
• Twitter directories can promote your business and network. Users also should optimize their avatar, customize a background and use Twitter marketing software. Twitter Business Portal business.twitter.com offer tips for marketing.
• You Tube is another good venue. Users can create a video playlist. Have catchy headlines, be yourself, and use keyword rich descriptions. Customize your channel with colors and graphics. Know your brand, use cross promotion and ask others, such as friends, to post videos on their Facebook pages.
• Blogging is the original social media, noted Solberg. “Your blog is kind of your work horse,” she said. As with other forms of social media, content is king. Focus on people first. The most successful bloggers listen to their audience.
• There are other social media outlets that can work well for some businesses. Pinterest, Instagram (photo sharing) and Linkedin ( business resume and contacts site) can also be used to market effectively.
The next social media breakfast is scheduled for Tuesday Nov. 26. Information about the November breakfast will be posted on the group’s Facebook page. For more information, visit www.socialmediabreakfastitascaarea.com