by Kirby Lindsay, posted 13 July 2012
Jessica Vets, Executive Director for the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, wants to aid your Fremont business on its way into social media – if it is the next step you want to take. “I started hearing from people,” she said, “should I be on Facebook? Twitter? What are they?”
Every Tuesday, Vets spends an hour at one of Fremont’s coffee shops/retaurants/watering holes, and let’s area business people come for help with questions/concerns they may have, and she calls it the Tweet Up Meet Up.
“I know what I know,” she admitted, as she lays no claims to special skills, “I’ll say if I don’t know,” the answer to a question or the details about a new on-line media site, “and we’ll investigate together.”
A Place For Those Already Tweeting
The Tweet Up Meet Up is one more effort by the Fremont Chamber to assist brick-and-mortar businesses, as well as start-ups and sideline businesses, create awareness of their enterprise. Since fall of 2008, Vets has focused the Chamber on providing opportunities for networking and otherwise increased exposure for area businesses, particularly by highlighting our niches – including Health & Wellness, Women Entrepreneurs, and the Geeks.
Every month, on the last Thursday, at 7p, the Chamber hosts – along with NautilusNet and Alchemy Computer Solutions – a Geek Meet Up. Those in the tech industry – software designers, website designers, IT, computer repair, etc. – can gather to share resources and build networks of references they can pass on to clients, and get exposure for their own services.
In addition, Vets quickly found others – in need of a computer expert for website design, computer repair, contract IT services, etc. – could come to the Geek Meet Up to hire assistance.
This summer, the organizers have chosen themes for the July & August Geek Meet Ups. On July 26th, at 7p, at History House, the theme is content. Those who provide content – for websites, blogs, and anything internet – are encouraged to come meet with the computer professionals to explore mutually beneficial partnerships. On August 30th, at 7p, also at History House, the theme is games. “I’m bringing board games,” admitted Vets, but others can bring on-line, video or any other games they find enchanting – including the representative of Groundspeak, the geocaching company.
And For The Rest Of Us…
The Geek Meet Up does provide a platform for those entrenched in technology, and the Tweet Up Meet Up gives a place where the rest of us can play catch-up, in a more one-on-one setting.
‘I want to be on it,’ Vets hears when talking with Fremont businesses, but for many people social media is powerful tool…and a great mystery. For one thing, Vets acknowledged, “every week, month, there are new ones coming out.” The proliferation of sites, including those claiming to be the ‘new’ Facebook or Twitter, can boggle a mind already overwhelmed by the possibilities.
“A lot of the focus is Facebook and Twitter,” Vets observed, “the other tools are secondary to those.” She won’t say that your business needs to be on either of the major social media sites – or both – but she can help sort out that answer for yourself. “It’s important to know if it works for you,” she suggested, “Is it your market?”
“It’s about your business. It’s about you. It has to make sense for you. If it doesn’t make sense for you, don’t go there,” Vets advised. She doesn’t push social media. She wants businesses to enhance their image, and the experience of their customers.
Is social media the direction to take to grow your business? To evaluate that, Vets asks one simple question, “are you willing to spend some time? This is what I ask people – to go on once a day. You can set up a static site,” she said, “but it won’t help.”
Facebook OR Twitter? And What About LinkedIn?
If the question comes down to Facebook vs. Twitter, Vets used clear analogies – “you think of Facebook like a Christmas Card. You wouldn’t ask Grandma to buy milk…” For businesses, Facebook can provide a platform for photos, links, and content meant to be read by a broad and varied audience. Vets suggested Facebook for meeting new people – and new clients – and for interaction. “Treat it like a quasi-blog,” she advised, to write more detailed information about your business potentially missed by casual observers, and to showcase the business and its brand.
“…and Twitter,” Vets went on, “is like a Post-It note. You see an on-line article and send out a link to say simply, ‘This is cool.’” Both sites allow great tools for businesses to promote new products or services, share photos about of something interesting to customers, or call clients to action. “If you don’t have a lot of time,” Vets remarked, “Twitter is great for that.Twitter is all about quick and dirty,” she joked. Seriously, she added, “it works well with businesses that are mobile.”
As for LinkedIn, Vets recommended it, but more for employees than owners.“It’s your business Rolodex,” she explained, “particularly for those who need the connections.” To use LinkedIneffectively, she explained, “every time you go to a meeting,” and meet new people professionally, “connect to them on LinkedIn that day, or the next.” She also noted that with every person on your account, you must remember where you met them and what kind of connection you made, for the network to be effective.
Set A Goal, And Get Social
“People forget their goal. What is your goal?” Vets observed. Choosing the site, or the number of sites, to use depends on why you want to put yourself there. Social media can promote sales, provide networking, build awareness, deliver information, or direct followers to your own website – if used properly. At the Tweet Up Meet Up, Vets can help clarify the right site.
She can also help clarify the importance of content and tone in posts on these sites. “If you are a snarky person,” she said about posts, “you are going to get snarky followers. If straight-laced, ditto.” For companies with a bright, happy brand, you better be able to write bright, happy posts. “If you hire someone,” to post on behalf of your business, Vets advised, “make sure they know who you are,” and the image you want your business to project.
For any Fremont business person needing help to take the next step, Chamber member or not, Vets invites them to attend an upcoming Tweet Up Meet Ups, held weekly on Tuesdays. Times and locations do change, so consult the Fremont Chamber events calendar for the latest information.
For July, Tweet Up Meet Ups will take place:
- on July 17th, at Noon, in the outdoor courtyard of the Fremont PCC Natural Market
- on July 24th, at 9a, at Fremont Coffee (459 N 36th St)
- on July 31st, at 4p, at Hunger (3601 Fremont Ave N)
At these locations, look a tabletop sign next to Vets, who also pointed out, “often the tweets lead you to a blog, a site, a community,to find out about new information that could benefit your business.” If you feel ready to learn more and take your business to the next level, attend an up-coming Tweet Up Meet Up.
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©2012 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.