Chamber, Ameristar teach businesses ‘The Key to Social Media’

Published 10:06 am Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Social media is changing the world one business at a time. To stay relevant, businesses have to keep up with the evolution of technology, and social media has become an ever-increasing trend to reach the customer.

Tuesday, Pinnacle Entertainment in conjunction with the Vicksburg Warren County Chamber of Commerce had Tracilee Hoffman, director of social media for Pinnacle Entertainment, present The Key to Social Media to Chamber members.

Her top three things business should know are the right social media channel for the company, the company’s goals and where their audience spends time on social media.

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“On social media you are the voice of the brand in real time,” Hoffman said.

Jane Flowers, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said the large audience proved these small business owners wanted to learn.

“What I’m trying to do is have more things like this. Ameristar had it for us with their expertise, the rest of the community benefitted by learning. What does that do? That helps promote business and it helps build Vicksburg’s business community,” Flowers said.

Knowing which platform to use and what audience needs to be targeted is huge for companies. Depending on the product someone is selling will decide which website is most useful to them. Hoffman said data shows women ages 35 to 55 are likely using Facebook, men 22 to 25 are on Twitter and women in their mid-20s spend their time on Instagram.

“Your brand’s personality should exude through all channels,” Hoffman said. “That should be the same brand and the same voice on every channel.”

On average, Hoffman said companies need to only post to Facebook twice a day and to Twitter three to five time a day before people get frustrated with the content thrown at them and unfollow the business.

Advertising through social media, Hoffman said, can be a cheap way to reach a larger, target audience. These sites gather personal information from users every time they post. Taking stock of those numbers and preferences helps businesses know who to reach out to and when.

Hoffman was able to find out South American visitors to Pinnacle casinos often book in February and visit in October. Or in Louisiana they were able to pinpoint fans of Rick Springfield to let them know he would be preforming at their location. By having that information, she knows when and where to advertise to the particular audience.

Another point discussed was how to deal with complaints. Hoffman said 9 percent of posts are complaints and customers expect responses. She said not to censor those complaints unless they are profane or put an employee in danger.

While some businesses hire outside contractors to handle their social media, Hoffman said she believes companies need to have their own social media manager because it is important for those heading up the websites to have knowledge and an invested interest in the company. An employee with Pinnacle took the time to respond thoughtfully to a generic Facebook request by encouraging the customer to visit their facility. The customer responded by saying she was a regular patron who would not be able to attend the upcoming event because her husband recently had surgery. The employee found she was indeed a loyal customer, and they sent her a gift card in a hand written get well card.

Reaching out to customers in such a personal way is possible through social media.

Hoffman said social media has become her second career after not using it at all in her 20s. She did not understand the appeal, but now it has become a necessity in the business world.

“I think an audience today is far more advanced than an audience even a year ago,” Hoffman said. “I think a year or two ago I would have to convince an audience they needed to be on social media. They know they need to be on social media now. They just maybe aren’t sure about what they should say, when they should say it, and what channel they should use to share.”

Lois Vinson, account manager at the Chamber, sat in on the presentation to learn as much as she could about social media and how to use it. She found the talk educational and now has a better understanding of social media uses.

“This is very interesting and very informative, and she was fantastic,” Vinson said. “I think this would be something we would like to maybe do more of.”