Use caution when using social networking sites
Twitter and Facebook Web sites provide venues for promoting business as well as personal connections, but Linked-In and Constant Contact are the preferred sites for professionals who spoke during the last PubTalk meeting of the year.
During the Thursday evening PubTalk at the Crossroads Carnegie Art Center, professionals versed in the ins and outs of using social and business networking sites described how they use Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In and Constant Contact to promote their career objectives, market companies, products or services, promote events, seminars, workshops and keep in contact with business associates and potential clients.Panelists included Mike Parrott from the Ater Wynne Law firm in Portland; Michael Howe, communications specialist for Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative; and Baker City native Ernie Bootsma, who is also from the Ater Wynn law firm in Portland.
Parrot said he uses Linked-In to communicate with clients and potential clients of Ater Wynn law firm. He also uses Constant Contact for communications with targeted members of the organization’s network, and explained how features on both of those programs can be used to target selected contacts by topic, zip code, age and other factors that help pinpoint messages to targeted audiences.
Bootsma explained how he uses Linked-In and Constant Contact to embellish existing communication methods.
“These networking sites are not a replacement for radio or newspaper advertising, but they are an additional tool that enhances your communication strategy,” Bootsma said.
Bootsma said he uses Facebook and Twitter mainly for building and maintaining personal communications with family, friends and school classmates, and is pretty careful about what information and comments he posts because of a crossover with professional clients and business associates.
He said putting some goof ball comment on Twitter or Facebook can cause problems if a business associate or client reads it and makes a negative judgement about you based on those comments.
Another caution about chatting mindlessly on Facebook or Twitter, such as making logging on and reporting that you just brushed your teeth, can create a negative impression that you have nothing better to do with your time.
Parrot went so far as to say the only thing he uses Facebook for is to leave a message telling business clients how to contact him on Linked-In or Constant Contact.
One of the things Parrot said he likes about Linked-In and Constant Contact is the ability to get reports back about who opened his e-mails and who didn’t, and other information.
Howe talked about how he uses Facebook and Twitter to communicate with targeted audiences, especially the youth audience, to get messages out about Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative’s many programs, including youth camp and scholarship programs.
He said Facebook has been an excellent communication tool, but he agreed that people who use it for both business and personal communications need to think about the potential for almost anyone to read what they write on Facebook, and possibly use it against them at some point.
After the panel presentation and demonstration on using social and business networking sites, the PubTalk agenda turned to five-minute presentations by local entrepreneurs.
Phil Kochan of MyGroceryTools.com, a computer programmer who recently moved to Baker County to the King Ranch near Whitney and is developing a subscription Web site to help grocery shoppers save time and money on their trips to the grocery stores.
During his presentation, Kochan described how he has developed a computer program that compares prices for every item and lists all of the specials and where everything is located in the local grocery stores Albertsons and Safeway, and also provides the same information about Wal-Mart in Ontario, so shoppers can compare online instead of just relying on ads or trips wandering through the stores to make comparisons.
At one point, he asked the audience to raise their hands if they are the primary grocery shopper in their household. Then he asked them to put their hands up if they would pay a $10 per month subscription fee if he could guarantee they’d save at least $40 a month and a half hour per grocery shopping trip by using his Web site.
After counting the hands both ways, he calculated that 71 percent of the people in the audience indicated that it would be worth $10 a month to save time and $40 or more per month on their grocery expenses.
That ratio of positive responses, he said, shows his company would be a good investment, because he only needs one in 1,000 to subscribe to make a profit.
Tom Bootsma of Bootsma Manufacturing in Baker City described how his business manufacturing forward and rear operating hay rakes, as well as hay feeders, has taken off with dealers in four states, and he is looking for investors to help take the business to the next level.
He said there’s a nearly 30 percent profit margin in each hay rake his company manufacturers, so there’s plenty of potential for an investor to make a profit as well.
“I could keep 30 or 40 people busy building this equipment if we could raise the money to expand” and hire out marketing services, Bootsma said.
He said his hay feeder allows one man to feed a herd of cattle, taking the place of the two or three it takes with conventional hay feeding methods involving pulling a hay wagon with a truck or tractor.
Kochan did some quick mathematical calculations and figured it cost about 17 cents per head to feed cattle with Bootsma’s feeder, which is a considerable savings compared to the roughly 60 cents per head per day or more he figured it cost on ranches where he’s helped feed cattle from an old fashioned tractor-drawn hay wagon.