Over a dozen representatives of various non-profits and small businesses braved temperatures in the teens and a couple inches of snow Wednesday evening to attend a social media boot camp hosted by Ideas in Motion Media and the Greater La Porte Economic Development Corporation (GLEDC).
The event took place at the GLEDC office, a re-purposed railroad station in downtown La Porte. Ideas in Motion Media founder Chris Mahlmann headed the seminar, pitching social media strategies to curious parties from non-for-profits, churches and city organizations.
During his presentation, Mahlmann emphasized the differences between traditional media and social media when it comes to advertising and promoting an organization or event.
“Social media is not a one-way communication platform,” Mahlmann said. “It’s not a TV station that will reach a certain number of viewers. It’s not a newspaper that will reach a certain number of viewers. It’s not a billboard that will have a certain number of drivers pass it.”
Mahlmann said the most important and useful aspect of social media is the possibility for exponential expansion of a network via retweets, likes and shares.
“It’s similar to running around to all of your friends saying, ‘Have you read this magazine? It’s really good,’” Mahlmann said.
One important thing to remember on social media, Mahlmann said, is that it is meant to be social, with engagement and interaction. Mahlmann said to keep in mind a cocktail party – one doesn't want to be the person in the room talking about only one subject.
“Say I’m a dentist and all I say is, ‘How are your teeth? Have you thought about your teeth? What about your family’s teeth? Teeth, teeth, teeth,” Mahlmann said. “Don’t be the blowhard in the room. Don’t talk at people. They won’t share your information if they think you’re a blowhard.”
Mahlmann emphasized that organizations don’t need to spend excessive amounts of money in order to have a successful social media campaign. It’s also not necessary for everything on social media to be of professional quality, Mahlmann said. Cell phone photos or videos can be equally effective if done right, he added.
In order to find out what is or isn’t effective, Mahlmann recommended that organizations take cues from similar groups and the social media experiences of those groups.
“It doesn’t matter if they’re in Santa Barbara or Michigan City,” Mahlmann said. “See what works or doesn’t work for that organization.”
Before the presentation, attendees enjoyed a cocktail hour catered by Texas Corral. The cocktail hour including a beer tasting put on by Twisted K-8 Brewing. Owned and operated by the husband-and-wife team of Michael and Kate Boshaw, the brewery will open its brick-and-mortar location at 610 Monroe Street in downtown La Porte on Saturday, Dec. 14.
The Boshaws were thankful to GLEDC Assistant Development Director Kim Ramsey and La Porte Chamber of Commerce representative Tiffany Bley for helping secure the location.
“Anything we needed, they were there for us,” Michael Boshaw said. “They set up meetings, did paperwork and even went to locations with us.”
Ramsey said it was important to GLEDC that small business owners understand the committee isn't focused just on large corporations.
“We’re here to help everyone,” Ramsey explained.