By PAUL GIANNAMORE
WEIRTON - Small business owners may often hear they should have a presence on Facebook or use Twitter, but they also might not know what to do with their page or their account.
SOCIAL MEDIA SOCIALIZING — Stephen M. Feher, vice president of Internet consulting services for the Ridgefield Group, talks with Brenda Mull, Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce president, prior to his seminar on social networking for business. The seminar was held by the chamber at the Holiday Inn of Weirton Wednesday to help small businesses determine how best to use social media, such as Twitter and Facebook. - Paul Giannamore
Stephen Feher of the Ridgefield Group said it's true that business needs to be on social networking platforms, but proper use is even more important.
Feher presented a social networking for business seminar, sponsored through the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce, at the Holiday Inn of Weirton Wednesday.
"It's where their customers are. It's a huge marketplace," he said. "As traditional advertising has fragmented - you can't hit everyone on network prime-time TV, cable is fragmented, newspapers and magazines are fragmented - small business can't afford to ignore a major channel for marketing opportunities."
However, it's more than just using traditional marketing on a new platform, he said.
"The number one rule you must adhere to is to protect your brand. You cannot become something that you are not," he said.
Beyond that, Feher said, using social networking as part of an overall and coordinated strategy must not be simply another announcement of what's on sale this week.
"You need credibility, accuracy and transparency. You must be consistent, regular and frequent with your content," Feher said. "You can't post today on your new page and then not do anything with it for six months before you update again."
People often jump headfirst into social networking without any strategy, he said.
For small business own
ers, the social networking platforms do offer an easy to use vehicle with a minimal investment of time and resources, but it's got to be more than promotional.
"The more that sales is your goal on social networks, the more likely it is that you will fail," he said. "It's not an ad campaign. The goal is to be advising, to give to get. You have to offer information and resources, material that will be helpful, that adds value to the customer and hope that ultimately that will increase sales. After all, that's why we are in business. But the channel users have a high-degree of sensibility. The customers do not want to be marketed to, but to build a relationship with your business."
The chamber is hoping to offer periodic regular information technology update learning events to its members, said Brenda Mull, chamber president. Feher drew several dozen to the Wednesday luncheon and seminar.