Wider Horizons

In the wake of the inaugural Social in the South conference held this October at Lethbridge College,Rod Leland small businesses and entrepreneurs are wising up online with social web tools to sell, listen and engage more effectively with their customers.

Lethbridge College Social Media Specialist Rod Leland, who helped organize and spoke at the conference, gathered tips and tools from the conference speakers to help small business owners make the most of this new medium.

Raylene Wall, who gave the pre-conference seminar, encouraged business owners to work within their time constraints to ensure that they’re performing well on the networks they choose to participate in.

“It’s much better to do one network very well than to participate in four poorly,” she advised. “Customers understand that businesses have a finite amount of time to spend online, but they want real answers and authentic interaction on the networks they do use. Pick one network, probably the one you are personally the most familiar with, and rock that one, before expanding to other networks.”

Ernest Barbaric’s talk focused on marketing strategy. He suggested that before starting to use social web tools, outline who your larget audience is, what type of content to post (and with what frequency), what networks are best used to target them and what type of content is going to be best for that audience.

Leland focused on the numbers and measurements that go along with social media. He stressed the importance of tracking in general and how to use easy measurements to show success.

“Do not measure success by the number of fans, likes or followers you have,” he advised. ”That’s not what matters. Measure how good your content is. Take the number of people who have seen your content, and put that number below the number of user actions (retweets, shares, comments or likes). That gives you a basic measure of engagement, and the more engaging you are online, the more your following will grow.”

The highlight of the conference was an appearance and keynote address by WestJet’s Darren Hailes. Hailes, the Emerging Media Coordinator at WestJet, gave insight into how WestJet’s customer service standards in the air and on the ground translate to communication online. He advised taking what already works well for your company – in his case, WestJet is known as a fun, friendly, caring company – and making sure to apply those ingredients to your use of social media.

An ever-increasing need for businesses to make themselves available online means it is important to have the knowledge and training to communicate effectively with their communities. With Social in the South 2012 wrapped up, attendees will be changing their statuses with customers from “single” to “in a relationship” more and more.

Wider Horizons
Lethbridge College
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