Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission, Small Business Administration

Planners, SBA talk social media

Posted:  Monday, March 20, 2017 - 1:00pm
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Mary Ellen Barnes of the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission introduces speaker Shannon Kinney of DreamLocal Digital in Rockland. Also pictured is Kris Folsom of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. GINA HAMILTON/Wiscasset Newspaper

More than 50 people attended a workshop the Maine Small Business Administration and the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission hosted March 9,  on how social media can help businesses with marketing, communication and sales.

“We’ll have to hold a followup class for those who couldn’t get  into this one,” said Bill Card, economic development specialist for the Maine SBA. “We stopped taking reservations when we hit 50 participants.”

He said the social media are a big deal in marketing, especially for start-up businesses, which might not have a lot of advertising dollars.

“It’s important for new businesses to get their branding right,” said Shannon Kinney of DreamLocal Digital. Kinney had more than 20 years’ experience working with digital organizations, including the social media and branding side of the Lobster Festival. While advertising is important, more young people and even quite a few older people are getting information from social media, especially Facebook, where organizations and small businesses can start their own page to give out real-time information, Kinney said. Instagram is also a big deal in branding, she said.

Her company helps businesses jump-starting their social media presence and develop a website if necessary. Google Plus is one way to make sure a Facebook page makes it to search engines, she said. “If you don’t have your own website, you need Google Plus. It will help bump your Facebook page to the top of any search.”

Kris Folsom, director of marketing at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, said photos make a major difference in how many hits a social media item or website gets. “We were getting a few hits. Mostly they were from the same group of local people, getting information about classes and workshops.” Then she posted a whimsical photo a staff member took of a snowman. She was shocked at the response. “Thousands of hits in a single day,” she said. “From then on, we started taking pictures everywhere, of everything, and we put photos up on a daily basis.” The technique worked, and CMBG’s Facebook page, which links to its website, gets a lot of traffic now from tourists.

“We love it when local people come to the Gardens, and take our classes, but we need people from away to be aware of us and make us a destination. That’s what Facebook did for us.”

Also at the meeting was the SBA’s new district director, Amy Bassett, recently appointed by the Trump White House. She said she wants to assist small business in whatever way possible, including social media. “I’m always impressed when I come to these meetings and see how innovative people are, in cities, small towns, and rural areas,” she said.