Even for the largest businesses, keeping up with changing technology can be a monumental task. Every year, it seems, there is a new web app, mobile device or social media platform to adapt to. But for small business owners and entrepreneurs, who often have limited resources to devote to digital marketing, staying on the cutting edge can seem like a losing battle.
As part of an effort to level the playing field for local businesses, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Brookdale hosted a free “Social Media Jumpstart for Business Bootcamp” in Lincroft on Jan. 28.
Nearly 100 small business owners and entrepreneurs came together with SBDC staff and social media consultant Lisa Kanda to learn the ins and outs of Facebook, website design, Google business listings and other important avenues to reach new audiences in the digital age.
“It’s not the 1950’s anymore, where the entire family would sit around one TV set,” said Kanda, president of the Long Branch-based consulting firm Elkay Corporate Advisors. “The average adult has an attention span of seven or eight seconds. You have seconds to grab somebody’s attention before they move on to the next thing. Seconds. So this is what we are trying to do. And I’m here to tell you that you can do this. It’s not that scary.”
Throughout an intensive morning workshop, Kanda explained how business owners can design their company websites and social media listings to maximize their visibility in a “Google world.”
The top priority, she said, is to make sure all digital content is mobile-friendly. By optimizing websites for tablets and cell phones, business owners can add convenience for their customers while improving their standing in Google’s all-important search rankings.
Other tips included the importance of website keywords, map locations and Google’s “My Business” listings, all of which impact where, when and how a business’s website will show up for potential customers.
“If you’re thinking, ‘I don’t want to. Can’t we do things the way we have always done them?’ That’s not going to get you anywhere anymore,” said Kanda, who also handed out “Social Media GPS” strategy packets containing a wide range of tips, tricks and best practices.
“I’m not saying to throw out traditional marketing. But you have to be looking forward. Things are moving at an extremely rapid pace and, as business owners, we have to keep up as best we can. The way we do that is with a strategy.”
The morning workshop was followed by an intensive afternoon strategy session, which allowed 20 small business owners to work closely with Kanda and fine tune digital strategies for their respective businesses.
Tony Payer, a Manasquan-based realtor, said he came to the bootcamp with a working knowledge of social media marketing, as well as an understanding that, in today’s world, you can never know too much about digital communication.
“Social media is important for everyone today. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you have,” he said. “You can have a great website, but it doesn’t really matter if no one is visiting it … As you get further into social media marketing, you realize there is a lot more to it that simply logging on and posting. [The bootcamp] was a good way for me to learn how to make the most of it.”
The social media bootcamp, sponsored by the federal Small Business Administration, is one of several free training programs and seminars available to local small business owners and entrepreneurs through the SBDC at Brookdale. Serving Monmouth and Ocean counties for more than 35 years, the SBDC also offers one-on-one counseling, certificate programs and a wide range of other resources to anyone running, or trying to start, a small business, said SBDC regional director Jackeline Mejias Fuertes.
“If someone starts a business, they are creating a job for themselves and for others,” said Mejias-Fuertes. “So our mission is pretty simple. We want to assist small business owners and entrepreneurs with starting and growing their business. If you are not yet a client, we encourage you to visit our website and see all that we have to offer.”
To learn more about the SBDC or view their calendar of upcoming programs, click here.
See more photos from the Social Media Bootcamp here.