Fresh Summit sessions teach social media basicsANAHEIM, Calif. — Participants ranging from networking newbies to Google gurus came away from the two Fresh Summit social media educational sessions a little savvier Oct. 26.

John Avola, founder and chief executive officer of Social Good 360, Memphis, Tenn., presented an introductory session called “It’s a Digital World — 5 Simple Steps to Social Media Success.” Carisa Miklusak, chief executive officer of New York-based tMedia Strategies, followed up with an advanced session, “Beyond Branding: Leveraging Social Media to Drive Sales.”

Avola’s “crash course in setting up a social media strategy” featured a survey allowing participants to answer — and ask — questions by texting during the session.

For example, 54% of those in attendance responded positively to his question, “Do you have a social media strategy?”

Avola’s five steps:

  • Research and understand the target audience; use tools like Google Trends and Topsy.
  • Determine exactly what needs to be communicated, The four P’s of marketing – price, product, placement and promotion — have been supplemented with the 4 E’s — engage, educate, excite and enhance.
  • Select the best social media network for the audience. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ are among the most popular, Once the network is chosen, focus on understanding it and the terminology.
  • Engage and interact with the audience. Listen and respond to followers or fans.
  • Measure and re-evaluate. Monitor factors like number of subscribers, total interactions per network, click-throughs/purchases and growth rate.

In the second session, Miklusak said she wanted to dispel the myth that “you can’t sell with social media.”

Marketers must adapt to a new consumer and a new decision-making process that incorporates social media, she said.

“Don’t stop using everything you’re using,” she said, “but integrate social media.”

Shoppers still want to touch the peaches they’re buying, she said. But they also want information about where they were grown, what ingredients they contain and whether pesticides were used to grow them.

The three pillars of a social media program are education, collaboration and entertainment, she added.

Followers expect social media to add value, offer an incentive or solve a problem.

All departments of a company can use social media, Miklusak said, including marketing and branding, sales, customer service, research and development, recruitment and public relations.

But decide why you want to implement a social media program, she said. The reason shouldn’t be, “Because everyone else is doing it.”