LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- Nancy White sent her first tweet ever during Thursday's Tweets and Eats luncheon at Plates, where local business owners and entrepenuers learned how to use social media to communicate with prospective clients.
Like White, many of the local business people and entrepreneurs attending the noon luncheon have little to no experience, or presense, on Facebook or Twitter, but understand the need to use it.
"I grew up here, I know a lot of people in the community and to be able to easily keep them up-to-date on what's going on at the shop is great," said White, owner of The Flower Bar in Larchmont.
The speaker, Ellen DiPasquale, walked the group of over 30 through the ABCs of Facebook, Twitter and other social media, stressing the importance of maintaining a consistent message and presence across the board.
As of 2010, there were 500 million active Facebook users and 160 million active Twitter users, DiPasquale said. United States users spend one-third of their time online on Facebook, while 51 percent of twitter users follow companies, brands or products.
Victoria Foulke is a manager at Zip Realty, which recently began training its agents in social media.
"Our company is very forward thinking," said Foulke, a Mamaroneck resident who works from home. "They're always thinking about how they can do more marketing and how to use social media to take that next step."
Zip Realty just recently created a Facebook page, and plans to create individual pages for each house it has a listing, replicating the virtual store front they have created with its website. After the listing has closed, Foulke, who manages 21 Westchester real estate agents, said the company will post the ratings the agent receives from the buyer, even if they're negative.
DiPasquale pointed out during the lecture that "Negative social media is good." She explained 10 years ago people were saying these things, but now they're doing it through Facebook comments and businesses have the chance to respond.
"Once you create a Facebook page, it's really the maintainance," said Frankie Rowland, director of marketing and advertising at Community Markets in Ossning, which launched a social media plan at the beginning of the year. "You can't just put it up there, you have to give people a reason to come back."
Rowland's company, which runs farmers markets in Rockland and Westchester County - including Larchmont - and New York City, has 8,600 people signed up for their e-mail newletter, which is another tool DiPasquale discussed. "Tell people how to find your Facebook page on your e-mail newsletter, and how to sign-up for your newsletter on your Facebook page," DiPasquale said.
White, who has yet to launch a Facebook page, bought The Flower Bar seven months ago and has seen a 20 percent increase in business. After attending the talk on social media, she hopes that number continues to go up. "There's a lot of things going on around the shop, and Facebook and Twitter are perfect to get the word out," she said.
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