Humberto Contreras owns Gorda’s Baja Taco in Phoenix. It’s a tall order for Contreras, like most small-business owners, to operate his restaurant day to day. However, he’s savvy enough to know that to get noticed in the competitive culinary world, you have to get on social media, pronto. Contreras recently enrolled in the free Facebook for Business 101 workshop offered by his utility company, Salt River Project (SRP), to get started.
“I learned Facebook is the ‘in’ thing, and if you’re not on it, you are falling behind,” Contreras said. “I learned what to do, how to post and attract customers, and how to stand out on Facebook.”
Contreras, along with hundreds of other small-business owners, took advantage of the series of free workshops led by Ken Colburn, founder and CEO of Data Doctors. From September 2012 through February 2013, SRP conducted five free workshops about social media and key channels:
· Social Media for Business 101
· Facebook for Business 101
· Twitter for Business 101
· LinkedIn for Business 101
· Google AdWords for Business 101
The final social media workshop for SRP small-business customers, Lifecycle Marketing for Small Business, is scheduled for April 30 at the Fiesta Resort Conference Center in Tempe. To learn more or watch the complete video series now available online, go to srpbizresource.com.
“It is no longer a luxury or an option for small-business owners to decide if they are going to engage in social media or not,” Colburn said. “It’s a must to remain relevant. You have to understand this communication tool. It is how people are making buying decisions in virtually every business.”
The social media guru offers his top three tips for entrepreneurs:
1. Don’t procrastinate. The longer you wait to get started, the further behind you will be.
Don’t let the overwhelming nature of social media keep you from stepping forward.
2. To start, pick one social network. Learn the basics, stay focused until you feel comfortable and then move on to another network.
3. Start small. Set aside time. Keep it simple with no more than 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening to get familiar with social media and understand the basics.
“The three keys to social media are to listen, engage and measure,” Colburn explained. “A lot of people make the mistake of using social media as a megaphone to shout their marketing message. Social media is not a monologue; it’s a dialogue. If you are not having conversations with people, you are not doing it right.”
In 2011, SRP launched its Business Resource Center (BRC) to offer small and midsize entrepreneurs a valuable online business resource to help them grow and sustain their businesses. The one-stop resource is packed with critical information in the following categories:
· Economy at a glance
· Business success stories
· Local and national business resources
· News and research
· Current and pending legislation
· Advice from business experts
Business customers requested more information about social media, which spawned the series of free workshops designed to help small-business owners harness the power of social media.
“I think it’s great for SRP to step up and recognize this is one of the challenges for small businesses and try to help educate people,” Colburn said. “And this is one of the ways Data Doctors also likes to try to give back to the community.”