Businesses using social media to extend advertising reach

By By Eric Cormier / American Press

Roxie Boston makes cupcakes and other desserts.

No matter how good her sweet creations are, Boston has to advertise her small enterprises to let people know the business

exists.

She chooses to use an Internet tool to mount her daily advertising blitzes.

“Social media is our best form of advertising. It’s free,” Boston, the owner of Sweet Chic Bakery Boutique in Lake Charles,

said.

Several times a day, Boston updates her business’s Facebook page. Along with showcasing new desserts, she even informs the

public about business changes.

On Thursday, Boston updated her page to let customers know the business was moving to 341 East Prien Lake Road.

“I’m not on Twitter, but I have been told that I need to,” Boston said. “I use my phone, which is in my hand to take pictures

and make the updates. It takes only a few seconds to post on Facebook.”

According to www.socialmediatoday.com, a survey was conducted using 600 small businesses around the United States. The findings

indicate that 90 percent of those companies use social media and 74 percent see Internet networking as important, or more

important, than face-to-face networking.

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary

defines social media as “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites

for social networking

and microblogging) through which users create online communities

to share information, ideas, personal messages and other

content as videos.”

A report by Nielsen Wire in 2010 said that worldwide, 110 billion minutes, or 22 percent, of online time is spent on “social

networks and blogsites.”

Peter O’Carroll, longtime owner of a Lake Charles advertising, public relations and marketing business, views social media

as one part of a company’s or organization’s publicity plan. He said media strategies are based on finding the most “eyes”

that will look at a product.

O’Carroll said more than half of his clients use social media.

“It extends the companies’ reach. It is friendlier. And social media, by its nature, is free even though it’s not cheap,”

he said.

O’Carroll noted that costs are created by keeping some websites and social networks updated with administrators and editors.

“Somebody has to put the message out,” he said.

Over the years, O’Carroll has observed

many trends in the marketing and advertising industry. He still thinks

business owners

need to consider all media outlets — newspaper, television, radio

and billboards — when figuring out how they want to promote

their business.

“We look at a company and try to decide what medium will work best for them. If they have a small budget, they could pick

one and start using more over time,” he said.

Locally, he sees Facebook as the social networking tool that dominates the online market.

“People of all ages use it. I don’t see them use of Twitter as much,” he said.

Boston — who saw 15 customers hungry for a cheesecake she posted online — plans to continue using Facebook to promote her

business.

“I think social media reminds people about me,” she said.