Not your mother's Facebook

Pike Chamber hosts workshop on keeping up


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  • Tim Sohn of Sohn Social Media Solutions chats with attendee Caroline Akt. (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)



By Frances Ruth Harris

— Citizen's Bank of Milford was one of six businesses represented at the Pike Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday for a workshop on using social media to grow one's business.

The hour-long class was presented by Elev8YourBrand (also the name of their Facebook page), an amalgam of three experts in various aspects of social media and marketing: Timothy Sohn, who operated Sohn Social Media Solutions in Shohola; David Good, owner of m3 Internet Marketing in Honesdale; and Laurie Guzda of LaGuzda Creative Services.

"Basically, the three of us travel in similar circles," said Sohn. "We got together and all thought that local businesses needed help using social media tools to grow their businesses, and especially to attract new customers."

So they began holding workshops; the Pike Chamber one this week was their third.

"We developed the theme 'Fishing for Business," Sohn said. The event attracted businesspeople ranging from a plumbing and heating company to a private 2,000-acre community.

Threefold messageGood's presentation focused on web-based marketing. He talked about how to set up a website and how to drive people to it with such techniques as search engine optimization, known as SEO, and search engine marketing, which is paid marketing such as Google ads. He explained "re-marketing ads," in which owners put a code on their website that then allows them to target ads specifically to people who have visited it. He also explained the importance of maintaining listings on popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Sohn began by suggesting how people can decide which social media is best for their business, focusing on email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapshot.

"I tell them to figure out what audience they want to reach --the ages, locations, interests they have.

"Then decide what goals you want to achieve by using social media: increase brand awareness? Drive people to your website? Grow sales and leads?"

One way to help decide, he said, is to ask your existing customers how they prefer to be contacted. You can email your mailing list, or ask them when they come in to the store, or leave a book out."

A major caution, he said, is to realize that people become irate if they visit a site that has wrong or outdated information, so "If you're not going to keep it up to date, don't even start it in the first place."

Guzda's portion of the workshop focused on branding — how to tell your story. She suggested that businesses come up with an "elevator" pitch if they don't already have one: Tell your story in a paragraph, then refine it to a few sentences, then one sentence, then one word. That's your brand.

"When you tell your brand story, be concise," she said, "and use the language that your customers use.

"You want to be memorable, but appropriately memorable."

She also stressed the importance of maintaining mobile-friendly media, as more and more people are spending less time on their home computers or laptops and more and more are looking for information on mobile devices such as pads and smartphones.

'Learned a lot'"I had my foot in the door already; I designed a website and a Facebook page for my community," said Caroline Akt, a member of the board who wants to help market Black Forest in Glen Sprey, N.Y. — a 2,000-acre community with only 50 homes — to a targeted demographic.

"But I learned that I don't know enough; there is so much else that is available other than Facebook and Google."

"The class was amazing," she said. "It was very informative as what what we as business owners should be tapping into. It inspired me to want to learn more."

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