In today’s online media-drenched society, is it a must for every individual or business to jump in and participate in all the facets of social networking? Participation in everything likely isn’t necessary, but getting familiar with what social media options are available is a must for any business looking to promote its products and services.
Lucky for attendees of the PDX Women Chefs & Restaurateurs’ potluck last night, four of Portland’s most well-respected communications and media divas lent their expertise and took a room of 25+ independent business owners and chefs through the basics of a few of the tools available: LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Below are a few things the grouped learned about the social media/networking sites.
Suzame Tong took the group through the basics of having presences on LinkedIn, as well as search options that can help users find helpful information they’re looking for. When asked why some of the attendees were not on LinkedIn some answers were that they only thought it was for IT professionals, others hadn’t even heard of it. Truth be told that LinkedIn is actually for anyone in any industry to join. Suzame even gave an example of searching for key topics that would be of interest to chefs or others in the food business. She utilized the search box to look up certain chefs, restaurants, food writers, etc. Sure enough, many well-known contacts could be found on the site. Some other key take-aways from the discussion:
It’s worthwhile to be familiar with the value of LinkedIn, and even register a basic profile of yourself and/or your business.
LinkedIn is a great resource to conduct key word searches in finding information or contacts that are relative to your business’s success.
The site is an excellent way to leverage professional contacts as it acts as a little Eco-system, imitating the Six-degrees-of-separation idea.
Many chef and restaurant groups are currently on LinkedIn in which one can join to expand their network even further.
Many food media contacts can be found on LinkedIn.
Next up, Katherine Gray (@thiskat), of The New Civilization, and Lizzy Caston (@misslizzyc) took the group through the wonderful world of Twitter. Twitter has often been referred to as a micro-blogging site, allowing users to post status updates on what they’re doing-or what’s on their minds-in 140 characters or less. On Twitter, users view a page filled with a continuous stream of status updates from people of whom they’re “following”. This allows users to follow other people who have similar interests to theirs, or who are within the same professional industries. It also acts as a window on what topics everyone is talking about at the moment. A few key tips Katherine and Lizzy gave to the group:
With Twitter, you have to participate to make it beneficial to you. You get out of it what you put into it. It’s not a site where you simply sign up with a profile and then never check in.
It’s good to define what you want from Twitter. Will this be something you use for your personal life, your business? A little of both?
In daily life, communities build brands. Twitter is an online community that can build brands, loyalty, a following.
Don’t say anything on Twitter that you wouldn’t say to a client’s face at a cocktail party.
Interact with your followers. Don’t just post updates about yourself. @reply to people who write directly to you, and @reply, or comment, to others in your stream who are saying things that spark your interest. This is what keeps people engaged, makes them feel a connection to you and leads to a solid community base.
Twitter case study: @KOifusion. When KOifusion began with Twitter, Lizzy took the reigns of setting them up on Twitter. She used the Twitter search feature to find people she thought may be interested in a Korean taco truck. She searched among places like Korean food, taco trucks, Korean fusion, etc. to find people, or other businesses, who she thought might be interested in learning about KOifusion. Within a few days, KOifusion saw its the response of people following it back reach over 700. About 90 percent of KOifusion’s followers were direct targets to the company’s market. The important lesson with this study is that followers were hand picked using key search words, not by spamming.
And for our last tour, Marlynn Schotland, the mastermind behind Mamapreneurs, Inc., Urban Bliss and Mama Lit. carried the group through the ins and outs of Facebook. Facebook might be most well known as a site where people sign up and connect with long lost friends and family from all over. This is true, and it is highly used for personal reasons. The other side of Facebook lends itself to an excellent tool for businesses wanting to promote their products and services online. Businesses can create a “page”, which, in a fashion, can serve as a small website on the site. A few key notes about Facebook:
There are currently 200 million users on Facebook. Of those, the majority are in the 35+ age range.
Facebook gives users a seat at the table, it allows you to be seen and participate in what’s happening online.
Facebook allows you to cross-promote by also providing links to your LinkedIn or Twitter sites. In addition, you can also insert a Facebook logo on your other marketing materials such as your newsletter, your main business website, etc. This alerts viewers that they can also find you on the Facebook site.
If you’re a business, you can invite people to become fans of yours on the site, allowing for further exposure in viral type of fashion.
If you set up a personal page, you can have a maximum of 5,000 friends. A business page allows you to have an unlimited amount of friends/fans.
Facebook allows you to create a calendar to promotes your events and special happenings to your friends and fans.