It is one of the most asked questions by Green Bay SCORE clients, "How will social media work for my business?"
SCORE is responding with a seminar from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 9 at Stadium View Bar & Grille in Ashwaubenon. Social Media 101 for Small Business will feature accomplished public relations experts Jim Streed, owner of J Streed Communications, and Noelle Marr, social media specialist at Leonard & Finco Public Relations. Both are members of the local chapter of Public Relations Society of America, a group of professionals dedicated to sharing ideas and learning more about their craft.
Streed, who has more than 40 years in public relations and marketing experience in a variety of industries, has witnessed firsthand the evolution of social media and its impact on business.
"Social media has changed the way we think about communicating both in and out of an organization," Streed said. His initial foray into social media occurred shortly after the launch of Twitter in 2006. "I enrolled mainly as a way to learn how the channel worked," he said.
Although Twitter began as a social site that asked the question, "What are you doing now?" it wasn’t long before people began posting complaints and compliments about businesses. As that happened, Streed said there was a need to respond, and businesses joined the conversation.
Facebook, a site that began as a tool for personal communication, also changed and quickly become a necessity for business. The number of business pages skyrocketed; it became a vital component of marketing plans. But as those sites and others have grown, it is difficult for an entrepreneur to know how to stand out and be effective.
Streed’s advice for business owners is to go slow and not become overwhelmed and try to set up accounts with all of the popular sites, including Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram. He suggests starting with three crucial pieces — Facebook, Google My Business and Twitter. But, he cautions, the ultimate decision of where to be should come from your customers.
Streed suggests: "Ask your customers — Where are you? What platforms do you use? How did you find us?"
The answers may vary, but regardless, every plan needs to include methods of being found online. By completing a thorough profile on Google My Business, a business is likely to end up doing well when a customer is searching for that type of business. He emphasized that all important details should be included.
"Be aware that as a business site, it is critical to include information such as name, location, telephone number and hours. This needs to be complete. You also need to be current. If you had to close unexpectedly, for example, update the information everywhere you are," Streed said.
The challenge for a small business owner, especially for one who is trying to do everything alone, is to be consistent. This is where good time management skills come in handy. He says that times should be set up on a calendar, and whether it includes posting once every three days or once a week, consistency is key.
The goal is to build followers and traffic, and to lead customers to the business website where information can be captured to build email and mobile lists. Tactics include offering "gated content," something like a cookbook or webinar that is free.
"You invite people to enroll or opt in, and when you do that you get their name, email, and business and that’s how you capture them," Streed said. "Then you have another way to reach them — email. This is the way you begin to promote your social sites."
As part of that, he says customers should be given an easy way to opt out if they aren’t interested in receiving additional content.
The seminar also will touch on analytics, how to increase website visitors, how to respond to negative comments and the goal of PRSA (prsanewis.org). Participants will have an opportunity to network and give a 30-second elevator pitch about their business. The seminar is free, but there is a $12 fee for lunch. To register, email events@hbbaconnects .com.
Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and past district director for SCORE, Wisconsin.