There was all kinds of social going on Thursday on Laurel Street: the usual mob scene associated with Hot Harvest Nights, Happy Hour (including outdoor wine/beer cart at Town) and something totally new to the City of San Carlos: celebrate Social Media Day.
So whom do we have to thank for this idea? Credit Pete Cashmore, founder and CEO of tech blog Mashable who last year “proclaimed” June 30th Social Media Day (a royal gesture, befitting a photogenic, bestubbled Scottish web celeb with 2 million Twitter followers).
The City of San Carlos officially joined the global event this year. By doing so, it hopes to focus attention on the impact of social media – like Facebook and Twitter – not only on individuals, but businesses and the economy.
At Hot Harvest Nights, the San Carlos Chamber of Commerce (with help from Bullfrog Media & Roaring Pajamas) hosted a meetup designed as a treasure hunt that ended with a prize raffle.
San Carlos Chamber of Commerce CEO David Bouchard says he doesn’t know the exact number of local businesses that use social media, but interest is high. The chamber has held several social media workshops to bring its members up to speed.
While the workshops have proved popular, Melanie Yunk of Roaring Pajamas, who helped lead the sessions, said, “The biggest obstacle for small businesses are resources.” It takes time and money to come up with a social media strategy, execute it and maintain it.
The most popular social media tools for businesses, says Yunk, are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Four Square and Gowalla.
“For small retailers, I believe social mobile will be very important,” Yunk predicted, saying many restaurants and merchants are already using the smart phone social apps. Some, for example, entice customers by offering discounts and specials to those who read their Tweets.
Even for businesses who’ve figured out ways to reach customers by leveraging social media, it’s often hard to put a number on the return on investment.
A notable (and exuberant) exception is Geoffrey of Geoffrey’s Diamonds- Goldsmith in San Carlos. After listening to Yunk’s presentation, he decided to hire her services to help his business take advantage of Facebook and Twitter.
Geoffrey says he was predisposed to try social media because he’d had a great experience with Yelp. “Yelp got thrust upon us, but it turned out to be the biggest boon for this store,” he said, saying Yelp has been so effective that he no longer has to advertise. (Other merchants aren’t always so lucky. Bad reviews have troubled many a business)
So Geoffrey – who calls himself a dinosaur willing to learn – now Tweets and posts updates on Facebook and is happy with the results. He also added a diamond-search feature to his website which has been a bit hit with customers who like to shop online.
All combined, Geoffrey says his social media strategy has doubled his business. “We do big numbers,” he added. “Physically, we’re a mom and pop brick and mortar, but our numbers? We’re one of the bigger stores on peninsula.”
Of course, when it comes to social media, being a social person helps. Geoffrey, besides selling lots of jewelry, is a super social guy who knows how to connect with people. Social media is just one more tool in his business arsenal.
About the Author: