Madison HeightsJuly 19, 2012
E-Lounge to demo how business can use social media
By Andy Kozlowski
C & G Staff Writer
MADISON HEIGHTS — Last month went by without an E-Lounge meeting, but now the think tank for aspiring entrepreneurs is back with a hands-on take on the popular subject of how social media applications can serve new businesses.
All are invited to the E-Lounge session at Biggby Coffee, 31055 John R, bright and early from 8-9 a.m. Thursday, July 26. As always, the event is free and open to the public, and coffee is on the house.
Guest speakers Heather Coleman Voss, social media manager of career services at Specs Howard School of Media Arts, and Ron Marshall of The Mythic Group, the education/training branch of Ron Marshall Consulting and Management, will do a live demonstration of social media.
But this isn’t about making friends. Rather, it’s about how you can build mindshare for your company and generate business.
“This session is not only for people who never tried social media, but seasoned social media users, as well,” said Linda Williams, economic development coordinator for the city of Madison Heights.
Voss said the business-building potential of social media is so great that one could spend days showing how to use them. The July 26 meeting will likely be the first of more to come demonstrating social media.
Facebook and Twitter will be the focus this go-around, but future E-Lounge sessions may explore them further, as well as uses for other applications like Google+, Pinterest, Wordpress and Instagram.
For Facebook, business owners should maintain a business page in addition to their personal account.
“People like people they can trust and do business with people they trust, so being able to have the business page that showcases your personality and handles your customer relations and gives them an outlet for them to connect with real people is a huge advantage, because loyal customers will promote you,” Voss said.
Meanwhile, the personal page should feature some aspects of your business, as well. Even if it’s only family and friends that have access, they’re professionals who might refer people to your company.
The timeline feature allows you to control who sees what.
“Before it was an all-or-nothing proposition, where you were all private or all public,” Voss said. “The timeline allows you to toggle privacy on a post-by-post basis,” which helps a single account cater to both personal and business connections.
Cover photos are always public, but are a great opportunity to showcase the passion you have for your career, as well as what your business is about, Voss said.
Joining or starting a Facebook group focused on your industry or community is also a good idea, she said, as it connects you with likeminded individuals who can share insights on best business practices and help brainstorm ideas.
“In this economy, it’s about collaboration, not competition,” Voss said. “Regardless of what the group’s discussion topic may be, the result is more energy and sales, and working together to meet goals.”
Tags and conversation threads are another tool on Facebook. Say a company takes a photo of employees celebrating a birthday. Not only will this appear in the newsfeed of the business and everyone who follows the business as a like, but it will also appear in the newsfeed and profiles of the people tagged in the picture, and in turn the newsfeed of their Facebook friends.
This creates a ripple effect where a business can become known to non-fans. Also, the “viral” reach of posts is measured with data showing percentage increases and decreases in people you’ve reached across various demographics and timeframes.
These are some of the topics the speakers will discuss regarding Facebook.
Twitter is another incredible tool for business, Voss said.
The first thing to understand about Twitter is the hashtag, denoted by the # symbol, which serves as a gateway to different people and industries.
For example, say you’re Treat Dreams, a real ice cream shop in Ferndale. You’re trying to engage the community and become known, so in your tweets (Twitter posts) you include hashtags like #Ferndale or #Royal Oak, and make a point to plug other businesses, groups and individuals in the area.
This is so that when people look on Twitter to see what’s happening in those communities, they see the hashtag with your tweet and know you exist. As a bonus, they may even end up following you.
Promoting other businesses is important, Voss said, because in virtually every case, they will promote you back, and their customers will see you in their feed.
Attendees are encouraged to bring their laptops or mobile devices to the E-Lounge, so the speakers can help them try some of the techniques.
“We’ll connect them with others who are supportive of Detroit businesses,” Voss said. “We want you to follow these people, retweet them (quoting their posts in your feed), and let them know you just heard about them because they’ll follow you back, and you’ll start establishing these relationships with some of the best networkers in Detroit. Many times, within five or 10 minutes, you may even set up meetings with them.”
The next E-Lounge session is at Biggby Coffee, 31055 John R, 8-9 a.m. Thursday, July 26. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call (248) 588-1180.
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