Boosting social media savvy can pay dividends

4/11/2014

By SCOTT AUST

By SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram.com

On April 29, Garden City Downtown Vision and the organization's Economic Restructuring Committee will host a seminar on social media and how to make it work for your business.

"We are always striving to provide value in our memberships, and offering this seminar is just one more perk we can provide to our members," said Nicole Lucas, executive director of Downtown Vision.

Lucas said downtown retailers may have dabbled in Facebook or Twitter, but most probably don't know how to use it effectively or only use one social media platform.

"We're going to try to help them figure out what they should be posting and what they need to do from that side of things," she said. "We're going to talk about the types of posts they should be making to target their market. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, just all that stuff, those target markets they should be looking at, and how to take it to the next level."

Lucas said some business owners may be reluctant to use social media because it seems like it's too time consuming. But she said the workshop will highlight and explain there are different applications that allow a person to post to all social media platforms at one time. Most of all, Lucas said, social media is a good, cheap way for businesses and organizations to provide information to their customers and clients.

The seminar is at 7 p.m. April 29 at the Finnup Center, 312 Finnup Drive. The event is free for Downtown Vision membership and $5 for the general public. To register for the event, call the Downtown Vision office at 276-0891 or email vision@gcdowntown.com.

"Cassie Gonzales from Patrick Dugan's is going to give a real-world example of how social media works for them, because they do a lot of promotion through social media," Lucas said.

Gonzales, manager of Patrick Dugan's Coffee House, said social media is a "huge" part of marketing the business.

"Being a small business, we have to kind of pinch pennies. And Facebook is a free marketing tool that's really important for businesses to use," she said.

Normally, Patrick Dugan's tries to post at least twice per week. Gonzales has done some online research that suggests posting regularly is a good idea.

"Statistics show that 50 percent of all Facebook users check their page at least once a day. There's a whole kind of science behind when you should post, how often you should post, and I've done some research to figure out the best times for us to post," she said.

Even online, people like to have the sense that a business offers a human touch, and the social aspect of Facebook provides that as opposed to a traditional static website.

"People like to talk to other people, not an impersonal business," Gonzales said.

One of the ways Patrick Dugan's gauges the success of its social marketing effort is taking note when people mention a post or say that they saw them on Facebook. But Facebook also provides a method for business page owners to review the demographics of those who have liked their page.

"That has been great, using that Insights page to see who actually is our market," Gonzales said.

While Facebook has provided the best response, Patrick Dugan's also has a website and uses Twitter and Instagram. Gonzales expects to share more about the shop's experience with social media during the seminar later this month.

"I really feel strongly about using Facebook, mainly because that's what I grew up knowing. I'm 25-years-old. But there are a lot of people who have Facebook. We have 60-year-old customers who have Facebook," she said. "Even if someone doesn't 'like' your page, they will still check out what you have."

During its goal-setting retreat earlier this year, the Downtown Vision board of directors discussed the need to provide educational opportunities on topics relevant to its membership and downtown merchants, Lucas said.

"We plan to provide quarterly opportunities and want to keep the topics fun and interesting, while still providing the membership and downtown district with the tools they need," Lucas said.

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