News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, January 3, 2013
Workshop gives business owners tips on “getting social”

Lisa Arhontes-Marshall of Beehive Development

Lisa Arhontes-Marshall of Beehive Development discussing social media use for businesses on Wednesday, December 12.

Photo by Jessica Brophy Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Jessica Brophy

Facebook, Pinterest, Foursquare, Twitter—there are thousands of social media platforms out there. How does a busy business owner know which of these will benefit their business, and how to reap that benefit?

On December 12, Castine Community & Economic Development sponsored a workshop called “Getting Social: Social Media for Business.” Lisa Arhontes-Marshall of Beehive Development presented tips for wading through the ever-growing social media landscape.

Several area business owners attended the workshop, available free to Castine residents.

In a destination community like Castine, said Arhontes-Marshall, it’s especially important for businesses to be part of social networks. “Sixty-four percent of folks use social media for travel planning,” said Arhontes-Marshall. “Seventy-six percent of travelers post photos of their trip.”

Arhontes-Marshall said one of the questions she often gets asked as a social media specialist is whether a company needs to be everywhere. “It would be great if we could, but what we need to ask is, ‘what makes the biggest impact?’” she continued.

Facebook, with its one billion users, is “clearly important” said Arhontes-Marshall. A business’s presence on Facebook can serve several functions, she continued. Brand reputation, risk management, customer service and offering promotions or events. Interacting with customers is key, she continued.

Whether responding to questions, posting behind-the-scenes photos or information about specials, Arhontes-Marshall said using social media like Facebook is an opportunity to showcase the culture and personality of a business.

Other social media platforms Arhontes-Marshall discussed included Foursquare and Twitter. Foursquare is a “geolocation” social media (meaning that people primarily use the technology on mobile devices with location tracking). With Foursquare, users “check in” to businesses and locations, letting their friends know where they are. Businesses can offer special coupons to those who check in as a way to promote the business. Twitter is a good way to keep a group of interested “followers” apprised of the day-to-day happenings of the business, said Arhontes-Marshall.

Arhontes-Marshall said it can be tough to find the time, especially during the busy summer months, to devote to learning the platforms and establishing or growing a presence there. She recommends experimenting in the slower winter months, and, if appropriate, asking a tech-savvy employee to take charge of the business’s presence on social media.