Social networking can help small and local businesses get ahead in this economy by acting as a means of free advertising, a way to build relationships with the community around them, and a way for them to get the word out about their deals and specials to draw people in, said Jason White, producer of the MarqiTAC and the face behind MarquetteSocial.com.
White and a number of speakers talked about these things and more at MarqiTAC, a social networking conference that was held in downtown Marquette in the Masonic Center on Saturday, Oct. 23. MarqiTAC was composed of speakers who are familiar with social networking in different ways. This event was a follow-up event to the successful and exciting MackiTAC that was held earlier this year on Mackinac Island, White said.
“I was really excited about the people I met at MackiTAC, and I wanted to bring this to Marquette, because Marquette is just starting out with social networking,” White said. “This is just the beginning of a whole movement of local social networking for businesses.”
White said the main goal is to get people excited about what businesses are doing and to have that interaction that will draw people in.
Speakers were brought from all over Michigan to share ideas. This was a successful event that had people giving pointers on social networking and meeting each other to get to know who’s behind the websites, White said.
Greg Kretovic, a freelance graph designer, attended the conference as a way to meet others and see how networking could help him.
“It’s pretty interesting to hear how others use social networking to develop businesses and connect with each other,” Kretovic said.
Kretovic’s favorite speaker was Joni Hubred-Golden, who runs Michigan Woman’s Forum. Golden spoke about non profit organizations and how the social network helps them.
“It’s exciting to see social networking connecting all of Michigan,” Golden said. “It’s important to build relationships through these networks, because then people will become passionate advocates for your cause.”
Golden said she was impressed with how moved you can be by people you have never met, all through social networking. She follows many people who run non profits on their social networking sites, most of whom she has never met, and passionately supports them Golden said. She has become an advocate for those non profit organizations based on their Facebook and Twitter posts. The postings help to understand the business better, and what they stand for Golden said.
Misty Martinchek, the group sales manager for Shepler’s Ferry on Mackinac Island also spoke. She runs the Facebook page for Shepler’s and said that she is constantly updating it and replying to posts by people.
“It’s kind of an obsession of mine, I’m always on it,” Martinchek said. “It’s a free way to advertise while entertaining the fans and building relationships.”
Martinchek said that the use of social networking has helped make Shepler’s more accessible to people that want to know more about them or use their services. There are a remarkable amount of people who support the company now because of social networking, and it has helped profits said Martinchek.
“We are always looking for new ways to improve,” said Martinchek. “Facebook has allowed people to leave feedback and help us do that.”
Social Networking is the future of advertising and promoting local and small businesses White said.
“I believe that social networking is the catalyst in Michigan’s economic recovery,” he said.
White said that people should give the best they can through their social networking sites, and that hopefully people will support those businesses based on that.