By Melissa Dobson, Finger Lakes News Correspondent
What exactly are Facebook and Twitter? Do these platforms offer benefits to small businesses like wineries?
These are questions that are asked of the Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing team quite frequently. And after I also noticed a swell of interest in social media from businesses here, Morgen McLaughlin and I presented a full-day workshop to provide an overview of the most popular social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.
Of the 60 attendees, more than half represented local wineries, and several others were in the tourism business. Our goal was to familiarize attendees with the platforms and their ability to help attract eyeballs and online word of mouth in a cost-effective medium that is seen as an equalizer for small businesses and a great way to keep on the radar of customers.
After leading with facts and figures of the social media landscape, I showed a video from a recent Fox Business News report highlighting Ford Motor Company's use of social media conversations to engage their customers, ran through what social media is vs. what it isn't, showed videos of Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk demonstrating social media best practices, and presented worst practices to avoid.
During the interactive workshop, we talked through the platforms and demonstrated a live Twitter conversation with several wine "tweeps" (people on Twitter). We set up a new Twitter profile live for one of the participants and many others in the room followed along on their laptops and set up their own new profiles.
The afternoon was devoted primarily to Facebook. Morgen McLaughlin presented Facebook metrics relating to the Finger Lakes Wine Country fan pages and group pages. We demonstrated how to set up pages, share information to promote others (one of my favorite features) and how to link to other business pages within Facebook.
Another key topic was the wine blogosphere and how to best engage with bloggers. We concluded with my assessment of where the wineries and businesses of the Finger Lakes region currently stand in terms of social media adoption. We understand that our region is taking initial steps and has some catching up to do but I've already noticed that many of our workshop attendees really are excited and jumping into the social media pool.
I had several people approach me after the workshop with enthusiasm about getting their social media presence established to engage their fans and create "raving fans" and "tribes" of their own.