As part of our efforts to gear up the business, Angie and I are also trying to learn as much as we can. Fortunately, Pueblo has a pretty active Small Business Development Council and in addition to the course she’s taking, they offer quite a few other seminars and courses. On Wednesday, I attended a seminar they hosted titled Current Trends in Social Media. The event was also sponsored by Ent, a regional credit union. I was pleasantly surprised upon arrival at the room in the library where the event was being held that there was even some nosh laid on, including fresh fruit and cookies. Nice start to the morning!
The session was presented by Cory Ostos Aracrese, the owner of CArc Media, and I thought she did a great job in two big areas.
The first was that she really did talk about major trends in social media rather than just a basic overview of different social media applications and vehicles, which is what I’d feared she would talk about. I was worried she would just talk about how Pinterest was the up and coming medium or something like that, but instead she discussed different ways the media are being used.
The second was that she was very interactive, and totally encouraged the participants to, well, participate. I think part of this was that, as she said at the beginning, no one person is the authority on social media, so we could all learn from how other people are using different tools.
There were four or five major takeaways from the session that I would highlight:
- To begin, Cory emphasized that whatever you decide to do, in terms of what social media platforms you use, you must work at them consistently, since you are not likely to see overnight results.
- She also stressed that your website is like your real estate online and to her, it’s more important than any other vehicle. Angie and I tend to agree with this. We are going to have a Facebook page and other social media sites (@joycyclingchick is already up on Twitter and we’ve started an Instagram account too: joycycling_services.) but for our purposes, we need to have a robust website that is also going to allow people to place orders and get the key information they need about what we are offering and who we are. I can’t believe how many websites I look at where I have to hunt around for the address or the hours, which just seems so basic to me.
- Live video streaming is really hot. Cory demonstrated how easily you can start a livestream event on your iPad or phone (Apple or Android), including with a brand new feature from Facebook called Facebook Now or on Twitter with such plugins as Periscope and Meerkat. She had some additional, useful advice about using video too, including, very importantly, the value of keeping any videos brief and focused, so that people don’t lose interest.
- Incorporate hashtags (#) to get people to share. If members of your public are livestreaming something that pertains to your business or event, have a hashtag they can use (people look for hashtags on Twitter and other platforms to see what is trending). Be sure to thank people for using the hashtag and for streaming your event. The hashtag is a great tool for you to reach out to people and capture that information about who is paying attention to what you’re doing. One key hashtag to use on Instagram is #linkinbio, which is a way of telling people to go to your bio in order to find the URL for your website. It works a little differently from the main objective of hashtags but from what I heard, has become a standard way for people to inform others where to get information on Instagram, since the main objective of Instagram is posting the photo!
- Pay attention to search engine optimization: the most important thing you can do to keep showing up on searches is to stay relevant by keeping your site updated. Make sure that you also upload graphics and pictures, since search engines love those too (and make sure there are relevant filenames and/or urls included with the pictures, either as the filename or embedded in the picture). Cory also talked about some of the nuts and bolts of how SEO and Google adwords and online advertising work, which I found most useful, since we haven’t dipped our toes in those waters yet.
I was so glad I attended the event and I feel like it’s going to be really useful going forward. Thanks Southern Colorado SBDC, Ent Credit Union, and all the people who contributed thoughts and ideas during the session.