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Harter House human resources and marketing representative Michele Kauffman makes social media posts daily and develops a weekly e-newsletter.
Harter House human resources and marketing representative Michele Kauffman makes social media posts daily and develops a weekly e-newsletter.

Social Media - Now What?

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For many businesses, the question now is not whether to engage in social media but deciding how to handle it.

“Most everybody has opportunities in social media. It’s just deciding whether or not their businesses would benefit from their participation,” said Angela Frizell, social media instructor at Ozarks Technical Community College and e-marketing coordinator for Salon Service Group, which sells beauty products to salons in a 10-state region.

In most cases, using social media to market a company makes sense, Frizell said.

That doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy – and in fact, social media engagement can be a lot to take on, said Claire Faucett, public relations and interactive media manager for the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and owner of Faucett Social Design LLC, aka Engage5W, which she launched in May 2010.

“I think that’s overwhelming to a lot of businesses because you have that dreaded technology element to it and that insecurity of really opening up your business and being willing to talk about things,” Faucett said. “That can really be intimidating at first. It’s difficult to hand … your brand over to your audience, but social media pushes you to do that.”

Still, company leaders need to be careful when it comes to choosing someone to take the social media reins.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘Oh, my niece, she handles all of that because she’s young.’ I don’t necessarily recommend that,” Faucett said. For some companies, the right person to manage social media requires looking no further than existing staff, particularly if there’s an employee who’s a good writer, who understands the company’s branding strategy and can dedicate time for regular updates, Faucett said.

“Would you have your 10-year-old answer the phone for your business? Probably not,” she said. “(Social media is) another channel where your business is being represented.”

Michele Kauffman, head of human resources and marketing at Harter House’s East Republic Road supermarket, said hiring a consultant was briefly considered, but it’s something she prefers to handle herself.

“You still had to give (consultants) the information or they would take something random, and I could make it more personal,” Kauffman said. “I kind of had the insider information.”

Kauffman said she devotes a few minutes to it several times each workday, as well as two or three hours every Tuesday to develop a weekly e-newsletter.

“I love doing that kind of stuff,” Kauffman said. “I’m doing the Facebook, I do the Web site updates. I’m doing a blog on our Web site under World Flavors.  … I try to do that a couple of times a week.”

Kauffman, who also handles the store’s accounts payable, said allocating the time for social media is a worthy investment, because it allows Harter House to engage with existing and potential customers on a more personal level. She cited a recent Facebook example in which a fan of the Harter House page asked if there were plans for a west Springfield location.

“Someone else couldn’t answer that,” Kauffman said, noting that the answer, so far, is no.

For those companies that don’t have any employees who can fulfill the demands of social media, finding help via an outside consultant or a new hire might be the way to go.

“If you think, ‘I’m maxed out. I don’t have anyone to do this,’ then you need to find someone … who is willing to learn your company and learn what sort of style, what sort of tone would fit for that business,” said Faucett, whose company offers training and also will manage social media marketing campaigns for smaller companies. She said her small-business starter package, which costs $139 a month, includes a couple of updates each week on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. The price goes up depending on her level of involvement and the number of posts the company requires.

Vance Hall, box office manager at the Gillioz Theatre, handles all social media for the theater. Though technically a part-time staffer, Hall said he works between 20 and 40 hours a week, depending on show schedules, and he estimates that 60 percent of his time is spent on social media efforts.

“The ability to be constantly engaged with people, I think, is huge. Something I’m trying to do less of is general advertising and taking more steps to be more personable as a theater,” Hall said, offering an example: “I can search someone who’s at the show who has checked in on Foursquare or is at the Gillioz and I can at the very least thank them for coming to the show,” he said. “I think that’s better than me yelling, ‘Thank you!’ through the box-office window.”[[In-content Ad]]

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