Social media and small business: the brave new world.

The owners of the company Chatter Buzz Media held a workshop at the Orlando Public Library on the ways small business owners can use social media sites for marketing their products. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

ORLANDO – There was a time, Ashley Cisneros noted, when large companies held an enormous advantage over small start-up firms when it came to marketing their products and services. After all, the big firms had similarly hefty budgets for spreading the word.
It’s a totally different universe today, Cisneros added. Even the tiniest company, with a degree of creativity to bring to the table, now has opportunities that didn’t exist decades ago – if they know how to take full advantage of a powerful tool at their disposal.
“One of the things we love about social media, both for our business and helping other businesses, is the Internet and social media have really leveled the field for everyone,” Cisneros said. “It gives everyone an opportunity to promote their business.”
Added Shalyn Dever, “Social media and blogs generate real customers.”
Dever and Cisneros operate their own small business, Chatter Buzz Media. Located at 1452 E. Michigan St. in Orlando, it’s a full-service multimedia marketing firm specializing in website design, search engine optimization, social media marketing and content creation.
On Tuesday, they held a workshop at the Orlando Public Library called “Small Business, Big Ideas: The Power of Social Media,” to give other small business owners some ideas on how to maximize and understand the potential benefits of social media marketing.
They reviewed the most popular sites, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and noted that these sites are changing in many ways. If Facebook once offered a fun way to instantly communicate with colleagues or reconnect with old friends, in many ways it is now more of a business tool than a social one, Dever said.

Ashley Cisneros talks about the power of social media sites like LinkedIn and what they offer to small business owners during a workshop at the Orlando Public Library. (Photo by Michael Freeman).


“LinkedIn is business for business,” she said. “Facebook and Twitter are a little more business to customer. Facebook is usually used for business to consumer – if you’re a shoe store, you sell to consumers. The same is true with Twitter. LinkedIn is usually for professionals.”
What all social media platforms offer, Dever said, is an ability for companies to utilize them to increase marketing power and decrease marketing budgets. Other sites with similar marketing potential include YouTube and Pinterest, which Cisneros said “is the new kid on the block.”
Cisneros acknowledged that all of these sites, and the various options they offer users, can seem baffling to those who are not particularly tech savvy.
“It can be very overwhelming when you look at all these platforms,” she said.
But they’re well worth taking the time to learn about, she added.
“This seminar is really to show you the different social media platforms,” Dever said.
Each one can be used for marketing in unique ways, she added. With Facebook, visual can be as important to verbal.
“Facebook actually bought Instagram, which is another social media platform that people like to use, and it is pictures, not so much words,” Dever said. But Facebook is so widely used that business owners can’t avoid utilizing it for marketing purposes, she added, noting that one out of every seven minutes daily is spent on Facebook, and the site is one of the most preferred methods of sharing information, second only to emails.
It is also not a site for young people anymore, Dever said, noting that 65 percent of Facebook users are 35 and older.
“I know some people say, ‘Why should I go on Facebook, only my kids use Facebook,’ ” she said. “But our ways of marketing have evolved over time.”
Cisneros noted that Twitter has grown to 100 million users worldwide, and is used more internationally than domestically. Twitter also plays an active role in product decision-making, since 50 percent of the site’s users follow companies and preferred brands, studies indicate. Companies use Twitter as well, and pay very careful attention to what gets posted on it about them and their services, she added.
“If people complain about your business on Twitter, everybody can see it and the company has to address it,” she added.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, is used by business owners to connect with other business owners, Dever said, adding that 58 percent of small businesses use LinkedIn to promote their firm, and “It gives you an opportunity to take advantage of that.”
“We are a very small business,” Cisneros added, “and we have been successful.”
One way to accomplish that, Dever said, is to used LinkedIn to find out more about large companies that may need your services.
“A lot of big businesses subcontract out to small businesses,” she said. “We subcontract and subcontract and subcontract. There is no discrimination at all on LinkedIn. Nowadays in every business dealing, people tend to go on LinkedIn first and find out about your business. It’s really a good background check. Before you meet anyone for business, look them up on LinkedIn.”
To learn more about their services, visit Chatter Buzz Media.

Contact us at FreelineOrlando@gmail.com.

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