By Morgan Petronelli
The Ohio Small Business Development Center at Youngstown State University held its first-of-three training sessions on Friday, focusing on teaching small businesses how to effectively utilize social media for entrepreneurial purposes.
Each training session focuses on a different social media technique, with the first instructing small businesses how to create a foolproof social media strategy. Future sessions include Facebook marketing with paid advertising this Friday and a guide to establishing a blog on Sept. 15.
SBDC partners with the Williamson College of Business and focuses on aiding in the development of small local businesses in the tri-county area. They supply advisement to those businesses through marketing strategies, financial models, business loan proposals and Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP) Training and Certification.
Patricia Veisz, director of SBDC, emphasizes the importance of social media in the modern-day business model for both big and small businesses.
“Social media can be utilized for advertising, customer service, search engine optimization, market research, relationship building and so much more. It can be a very powerful tool,” Veisz said.
The effectiveness of social media relies on the user and business goals, she said.
“That’s why this training opportunity is so important,” Veisz said. There are plenty of ineffective ways to utilize social media and fewer effective ways.”
Viesz explained that despite its accessibility, it does not necessarily translate that social media is easy to utilize for marketing purposes. She stressed that SBDC wants their clients to understand that by grasping social media effectively, their business can profit.
Small businesses constantly attempt to keep up with big-name businesses and box-store chains. One local example of this is High Octane Coffee Co., a coffee shop that opened up in Austintown in early August.
George Syrianoudis, owner and founder of the business, said he faces difficulties as a small business owner, such as getting the word out about the opening of the new coffee shop.
“I realize building a name and reputation takes time, but it’s still tough to be patient. The thought of investing such a large sum of money without any guarantees can also be quite stressful,” Syrianoudis said.
Syrianoudis currently uses only Facebook for marketing, but he plans to expand his social media outreach to Instagram. He is also interested in attending the YSU SBDC social media training sessions to help improve his online presence.
Dr. Adam Earnhardt, chair of the YSU Department of Communications, said local businesses can utilize strategies to increase their social media outreach.
“Small business owners need to be on social media everyday and it doesn’t take a whole lot of time to be able to set up and manage an account,” Earnhardt said. “For example, if you wanted to set up a series of posts throughout the day, you could use a platform like Hootsuite or Sprout Social to be able to manage content and time it so that your posts go up throughout the day.”
Social media is on a long-term rise in the modern business model, Earnhardt said. He is interested to see if businesses will continue to connect to customers through new technologies, including virtual reality and artificial intelligence.
The training sessions are instructed by marketing professionals from Pole Position Marketing located in Uniontown, Ohio.
The YSU SBDC is still accepting those interested in registering for the training sessions. Each session costs $35 and the form can be found at http://www.ysu.edu/news/ysu-sbdc-holds-social-media-training-series and completed on the Eventbrite link posted on the site.