Social Media for Marketing

— Written By Casey Hancock and last updated by

Developing and Nurturing Relationships with Customers in the Age of Social Media

By: Casey Hancock
Extension Community Resource Development Agent – Local Foods and Tourism
N.C. Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center 

     Today, consumers are accustomed to having Internet and technology quite literally at their fingertips. Individuals utilize the Internet in various ways: networking for employment; staying in touch with friends; keeping up with current events; searching for directions; researching services and products they are considering purchasing; and even choosing restaurants, hotels, and vacation destinations.

     Traditionally, consumers learned about products and services through word of mouth. Social media is not a fad but a shift in the way people communicate. The term social media refers to a set of tools utilized to broadcast information to a large group of individuals. Social networking refers to the use of social media to create an interactive dialogue between businesses and consumers that builds relationships through the community. Social networking services – such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blogs – are used to connect friends, family, and strangers, and when businesses join social media, they can participate in the conversation. Utilizing social media services is of utmost importance to small business owners, farmers, and entrepreneurs to strengthen their business and attract customers.

     North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, is offering six Sustainable Tourism Seminars monthly, January-June, to meet the needs of small business owners, farmers, and aspiring entrepreneurs. The first seminar, titled Social Media for Marketing, will be held at the Cooperative Extension Center, O. P. Owens Agriculture Center, 455 Caton Road, Lumberton, on January 30 from 10 a.m. – 12 noon.

     Presenter Dr. Duarte Morais is a farm tourism entrepreneur in Portugal, a tourism professor and Extension specialist at N.C. State University, and the director of People-First Tourism (a web-based marketplace for genuine tourism services). In this workshop, he will draw from his education and practical experience to engage participants in a discussion about how to utilize free social media to develop relationships with profitable customers. Dr. Morais will explain why relationship marketing is crucial to the competitiveness of small and micro-tourism businesses. He will also explain the pitfalls of viewing social media as a digital brochure or discount coupon. Dr. Morais will ask participants to share successes with the group for a lively discussion. Participants can expect to leave the workshop with a list of small steps aimed at improving their social media strategy.

     Please contact Casey Hancock, Extension Community Resource Development Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, by phone at 910-671-3276 or E-mail at casey_hancock@ncsu.edu to register for the seminar by January 27 or with any thoughts, questions, or ideas. For accommodations for persons with disabilities, contact Casey at 910-671-3276 no later than January 27. For more information about Extension, please visit our website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu.

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