Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Local businesses embrace social media

by Jennifer Bowman on Oct 24, 2012 - 11:52 AM

Local businesses are seeing it’s time to step up to the changing world and embrace social media as a way to market their services.

Randy Mitson, marketing director for Algonquin Outfitters, talked to representatives from local businesses Wednesday morning, Oct. 17, about how to use things such as Facebook and Twitter to build customer relationships and grow sales.

He taught them about the difference between traditional and social marketing, starting with websites and blogs, growing fan base, social campaigns, and much more, but one of his key points was that social marketing efforts will never be successful unless you already have a solid foundation in customer service.
The workshop, hosted by the Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce and the Muskoka Small Business Centre, was filled with 46 men and women who wanted to learn how to use social media in a wide variety of businesses.

Dave Connell, managing business consultant for Muskoka Small Business Centre, said every time they offer the program it’s sold out.

From his observation, Connell said Muskoka is doing OK when it comes to using social media in its businesses.

It’s definitely catching on here, he said.

Maureen Wilson, marketing coordinator for the Bracebridge Villa, said currently she has Facebook, but doesn’t use it. After the seminar she said she’s looking at becoming an active Facebooker and Twitterer.
She said the seminar made her realize how quickly people react to social media.

“I’m at the beginning stages of social marketing and noticing more and more that families don’t have time to compare (retirement homes) so they compare through social media,” she said.

Luanne Hartman recently moved to Muskoka and started a new business in September. She’s hoping to use social media to entice customers.

“It seems overwhelming but necessary for business as well as personally,” she said.

At the end of the seminar, Mitson took the audience where no one likes to go, to the complaints people post online.

“This is the downside about social marketing,” Mitson said, “you’re scared they’re going to say something bad about you.”

He said he has never deleted a bad comment, though he said he would delete something if the comment is attacking someone or swearing. Instead, he addresses the problem right away, and usually ends up with happy customers.

It goes back to the base and customer service, he said.

“If you have someone who says something bad about you, address it. Change what you have to change. Fix it. It’ll turn into a positive,” he said.

Next month the Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce will host a seminar on how to set up a Facebook page.

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