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Saturday, Feb 4, 2023

Using Social Media is More than Just Friends and Tweets

The Facebook page for the small, boutique oil company had only a dozen fans and it was up to Dan Kahn to change that. Kahn, the owner of an Encino-based public relations and marketing firm, started out by linking the oil company’s page with those of other automotive industry clients active on Facebook. Promoting the fan page in the company e-newsletter and having contests to win t-shirts brought in more fans. In a short time, the number had leapt from the 12 fans to more than 11,000, Kahn said, with the goal of reaching 50,000 in another few months. “There wasn’t a single act (that did it),” Kahn said. “It was constant maintenance and constant interaction.” It is not just enough for businesses to use social media to promote themselves but it has to be done right. Not providing updated and relevant content, adding anybody as a Facebook friend, and relying on just one social media platform are all missteps that business people make, said marketing and PR professionals in the Valley region. Then there is losing focus of why use social media to begin with – to drive sales at the business and build brand awareness and loyalty. Being too social can be damaging to the bottom line. “It is fun and exciting but it shouldn’t be distracting,” said Lindsey Carnett, chief executive of Marketing Maven Public Relations in Camarillo. A look at the number of users on three of the most popular platforms indicates why businesses show interest in online social worlds – 400 million global Facebook users; 100 million registered on Twitter; and 60 million on LinkedIn. When it comes to business purposes, however, reaching the most users isn’t as good as reaching the right users. That is why marketing professionals strongly encourage their clients to have a clear strategy and objectives in mind before diving into social media. Carnett: Material posted at a blog or website needs to be updated and kept fresh to stay relevant and end up higher in Google keyword searches. What works There is not a one size fits all when it comes to which platform to use, said Stacey Geere, who operates her firm out of Santa Clarita. Special event planners using a lot of visuals and customer testimonials work well on Facebook while project management and construction management work best on LinkedIn, Geere said. Businesses that are referral based, like finance or real estate, tend to benefit from these sites because of a previous connection between the owner and the potential client, said Renee Shatanoff, of Sherman Oaks-based Harnessed Lightning. An insurance agency wouldn’t come to mind as getting a lot of fans on Facebook but Kahn found differently when he got the agency’s press releases out on real simple syndication (RSS) feeds. The releases, on topics like kidnap and ransom protection for overseas travelers or a checklist for disaster preparedness, got picked up by bloggers and niche websites that in turn drove traffic back to the agency’s site. “It is a different tactic and it works for him and he is having a banner year,” Kahn said. With the Internet, anyone can now create their own media empire but the difficulty is in standing out from the thousands upon thousands of websites out there, Shatanoff said.. Maintaining sites That leads to another mistake businesspeople tend to make: not giving enough time to their websites. If a site goes for weeks or months between updates there will be no reason for visitors to be there. No visitors means no sales. With multiple updates the site becomes more relevant and will end up higher in Google keyword searches. “You want to keep the news fresh,” Carnett said. Even with so many advertising dollars shifting toward online, that doesn’t mean ignoring print, television and radio ads. Geere likes to have a mixture of both traditional and new media for her clients. Reliance on a single social media outlet isn’t such a good thing either as what is popular one year may be out of favor the next. After all, look at the plummet MySpace took in popularity, Kahn said. Business owners should not be chasing after technology but instead choose it for what it is they want to achieve, Shatanoff said. Making the right choice could mean the different between a good and bad year. “You have to know the buttons to push and after that it is all about the content,” Shatanoff said. “People get hung up on the technology.”

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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