LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau held a social media seminar at the Lake Charles Civic Center on Wednesday.
The free event focused on the use of social media sites by area businesses and methods for expanding their online presence as an organization. The seminar included a beginner's course and an advanced course.
Angie Manning, Communications Director for the Lake Charles CVB, said this is the second year the "Get Social!" event was held. The morning class drew an estimated 50 attendees, while the afternoon course drew about 75.
"The mission of the CVB is to bring tax dollars in, and to have an impact on those stakeholders who would have an impact on the visiting public," said Theresa Overby, a social media consultant for Miles Media and the guest speaker for the event.
"I would say that as a general rule, each social media channel can have a specific audience. What you're trying to promote might be different on each channel," Manning said. "You would tailor (what you post) based on your strategy and what you're trying to do."
"If you're looking just specifically at the channels, Facebook is the biggest and has the largest reach. If you're only going to do one (social media profile), it could be that Facebook is where you should be, because you can do some pretty strong targeting within Facebook and find exactly who you know your audience to be," Overby said. "It really all depends on the nature of your business and who it is you're trying to reach."
Overby suggested keeping a regular online presence by posting to social media profiles daily. One to two Facebook posts per day and six to seven tweets per day is optimal, she said. Overby also recommended looking at profiles similar to the ones you wish to set up. For example, if you want to set up a Facebook fan page for a local restaurant, look at the fan pages of other local restaurants to see what information they are posting and how their customers react to it.
"I think that an online presence can lead directly to conversions and bring customers into your sales funnel. We were talking about word of mouth recommendations, where you used to have a good experience or a bad experience somewhere and share it with one person, and the multiplier was that ten people heard about it. Now, with social media, someone comes to a restaurant, has a great experience and shares photographs with their friends, and their friends share it. The reach and the amplification that social media provides is definitely impactful in terms of conversions and actually driving people to a business."
Overby gave several tips on managing social media profiles, including the following:
Make sure your Facebook fan page information includes the name and type of organization you are involved in and the business' address, phone number and hours of operation. Your cover photo for your fan page can also serve as an advertisement for your business or organization.
Your Facebook fan page picture should reflect who you are as a business. If your business or organization has a logo, that would make a good choice.
Make sure your conversations are two-way: your fans want to hear from you, but remember to answer them in a timely manner.
Use Twitter to create posts which establish you as an authority in your field and which draw fans to your website.
Use hashtags as both a label and a search term or key word.
Don't be afraid to create your own hashtags to open up conversation on a topic.
Linked In is a primarily professional web site that is useful for posting resumes, connecting with former colleagues and seeking employees.
Pinterest is a very "product-based" website. Businesses can use it to showcase services and amenities.
About 80 percent of Pinterest users are women, and half of female users are mothers. With this in mind, it is best to post in the morning or during the weekend, when these fans will be available and watching.
Most Pinterest users are also within the 25-34 age group, so make posts that are relevant to younger people.
Create pin boards that are not time-sensitive so that fans can interact with them year round.
Instagram is a mobile-only site, which makes it useful for a behind the scenes look at how organizations operate.
Instagram does not allow for ads or hyperlinks, but it does use hashtags. Use these to brand, promote, launch and sell your product.
All social media
Keep posts consistent (posted at around the same time each day) and concise.
Keep posts interesting. Do not spam your fans' feeds.
Promote your social media pages on your web site and vice versa.
Be visual. More people generally respond to posts with an image than just text posts with a hyperlink.
Create a content calendar outlining what you will post and when.
For more social media tips from Overby, follow her on Twitter at @theresaoverby or join the conversation by searching for #GetSocialSWLA on Twitter. You can also follow the Lake Charles CVB at @LakeCharlesCVB or www.facebook.com/LakeCharlesCVB.
For more information, contact the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.visitlakecharles.org or call them at 337-436-9588.