Business and pleasure mix at Social Media Bootcamp

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 15, 2009



LAPLACE – with the constantly increasing popularity of social media networking sites that link millions of people, business leaders have come to realize there is more to an online presence than just a single Web page.

It is becoming ever more common for companies to enlist the help of consultants to provide the tools necessary for digital competition in the Web 2.0 world, where networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube dominate.

“Successful Internet marketing and exposure is about knowing where the people are and the people are connected to these networks,” said Michelle Cullison, a Metairie-based social media strategist and president of Daystar Digital Development. “It’s similar to the real estate adage of location, location, location.”

Cullison has pioneered a teaching method known as Social Media Boot Camp. The day-long seminar brings together business leaders from a specific community to learn the basics of using social media sites to expand Web presence. Cullison was in LaPlace Friday conducting a boot camp for about a dozen members of the River Region Chamber of Commerce.

“We had a full house for a pair of seminars teaching the basics of Facebook and Twitter, and we wanted to expand on that success,” said Chassity McComack, executive director for the River Region Chamber. “Our members understand the value of these tools and wanted to learn more.”

Cullison said the boot camps, which began in June, typically attract a cross-section of business leaders who often have varied levels of Internet knowledge. Whether they are firmly established on the Web, or just have no direction or plan of attack, all participants come eager to learn, she added.

“Business of all sizes are starting to realize that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can all be invaluable for building traffic and creating a buzz,” said Cullison. “Past participants have been able to implement management strategies and drive those strategies to marginal success. From a business sense, these tools are in their infancy themselves, and it comes down to understanding how to utilize these tools productively.”

Cullison explained that networking sites have become more popular than traditional Web sites because they offer users the opportunity to provide a large amount of information with little work and lots of exposure – and in most cases this exposure is absolutely free.

“There is little or no financial risk and a high level of reward in using these networks,” said Cullison. “It all comes down to picking and choosing the most viable options and finding the right connections.”

Cullison showed participants how to create successful business profiles and how to search the networks for a target audience that may have a need for a particular product or service.

“The goal is to use a Facebook group or Twitter account to steer traffic back to a main Web site where potential customers or clients can gain more information about what your business has to offer,” said Cullison. “There is really no limit to what can be posted on these networks.”