Our Ultimate Social Media Extravaganza, at the St. Pete Pier, featured local social media and marketing experts last week. Here are practical tips from the meet-up to help market, brand and build your business or nonprofit.
Michele Northrup, founder of Intensity Academy Gourmet Sauces. The so-called "Saucy Queen" says she did not spend thousands to build her business using traditional advertising. Instead she used free social media. Northrup sent five bottles of sauces to five international food bloggers. These food bloggers created salsa dishes and then tweeted the final salsas. Northrup says within hours, thousands of orders came in for her sauces. A successful business was born!
Ebony Grimsley, owner of Above Promotions, encourages business owners to include social media in a layered marketing approach. Grimsley encourages small business owners to develop a routine for using social media, such as posting on Facebook certain times a day. Build that routine into your work day.
Blogger Gene "Doc" Webb, a fromer small business owner and political blogger on Patch, encourages business owners to keep content fresh on Facebook, Twitter and their websites. Don't expect customers to keep checking your Facebook or business site if the information is old and stale.
Mo Venouziou, Vice President of Localshops1, encourages small business owners to form partnerships and join local organizations that support small businesses. Venouziou explained that organizations like Localshops1, which co-sponsored the social media meetup, work to promote shopping local.
Linda Hersey, Associate Regional Editor of Patch.com, says every business needs a Facebook page. Hersey encourages every business to get online and start somewhere today. She encouraged folks to use an old-fashioned apporach to marketing and see themselves as the virtual shopkeeper. People still use friends and neighbors to make purchasing choices, they're just going online to do it. "Word of mouth" is a powerful tool, and business owners need to join the conversation.
Cherlene Willis, Gulfport Patch Editor, advises business owners to be conversational and friendly and to have an online persona that is approachable but professional. Just starting out, business owners may hesitate to start a conversation and may feel like they are "talking to themselves." Don't be shy and don't worry if people don't respond right away. Your friends will and so will your comfort and skills at posting online.
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