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Social Media Seminar Will Show How to Tap Online Tools

Tom Lewis says that, while Facebook has definitely expanded beyond the college crowd that spawned it, far too many business owners still believe its usefulness — as well as its inherent value — is restricted to that narrow constituency.

This is a mistake that could prove costly, said Lewis, president of Needlemine, a marketing consultancy specializing in search engine optimization of Web site content and cost-per-click/AdWords management strategy, and especially if one’s competition fully understands how beneficial and cost-effective the free-access social-networking Web site can be in getting a company’s message across.

“How can any business owner say that he or she doesn’t need a place where about 200 million people are actively using it and could come across that business in some way?” he said. “Whether you’re a regional business or an online business, there’s a lot of value there; it provides a forum for you to interact with your customers, it offers a community space for your own employees to communicate with each other and your customers, and the fact that it’s free is what’s so fascinating about it.”

This is a message that Lewis has spent considerable time before the microphone trying to spread, and he’ll be back at it June 5 as one of several experts who will be sharing their knowledge of social media and how those in business can use it at a program called “Online Impact: Tapping Twitter, Facebook & Other Online Tools to Grow Your Business.”

Sponored by BusinessWest and host of other businesses and organizations, the how-to seminar will be staged at the Technology Park at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) from 8 a.m. to noon.

Those presenting the program are taking the view that, while most in the audience will walk in knowing something about the social-networking sites being discussed, they generally won’t know enough about how to fully tap their vast potential, explained Gordon Snyder, director of the National Center for Informational and Communications Technology at STCC, and another of the seminar’s presenters.

By the time they leave, they’ll know much more, he told BusinessWest, and will hopefully be inspired to continue the learning process.

Snyder said he can attest to the benefits of incorporating social-media tools into an organization’s pre-established advertising and marketing methods. He told BusinessWest that tools like Twitter have allowed him and his colleagues to inexpensively inform the public about what they’re doing on a real-time basis. The use of these sites has also allowed the center and STCC as a whole to build a strong online reputation, and has made retrieving information about the school a quick and easy task.

“Twitter for Business” is the title of the breakout session Snyder will lead. It is one of many, and others include: “Leveraging LinkedIn for Business,” led by Ann Latham, president of Uncommon Clarity; “YouTube for Business,” led by Dave Sweeney of the Communications Department; “This Business Sucks! — Enhancing your Business Reputation Online,” led by John Garvey, president of Garvey Communications Associates; “Facebook for Business,” led by Lewis; and “Online Advertising for Local Businesses,” led by Mary Fallon of Garvey Communications.

The seminar will begin with a panel discussion addressing the impact that social networking has had on the Internet. Contributing panelists will include Snyder, Veronica Cintron of WWLP 22 News, and Garvey.

For the duration of the event there will be a help desk available to assist attendees in getting online during the breakout sessions, and PCs will also be available for attendees to do their own exploring.

The reality that business owners have to face is that these sites are not going to simply disappear and melt into the technological woodwork, said Lewis. Advertising, marketing, and networking through these Web sites may very well be the future of business, and it’s important for business owners not to get left behind.

It is Snyder’s hope that the seminar will aid attendees in learning about social-media tools and how to use them in a way that will be most beneficial to their business or organization. After all, technology is only going to continue to grow, and there’s no better time than now for businesses to gain their technological footing.

The cost to attend the seminar is $45, with all proceeds going to the Regional Technology Corp. To register, contact Suzanne Parker at (413) 755-1301 or at[email protected].

The seminar is being sponsored by BusinessWest, the Communications Department, Garvey Communications, STCC, NCICT, Needlemine, Uncommon Clarity, and WWLP 22 News.

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