By: Kevin Hourigan- Bayshore Solutions Management Team

AMA Event Featuring Facebook, Google & A Panel Of Florida Marketing Practitioners 

Wow, April 27, 2010 was one of the best days of my career as a marketer. The Tampa chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) and our company, Bayshore Solutions, partnered together to bring a representative from Facebook and Google to the Tampa Bay community to talk about Social Media. In addition to Google and Facebook each having a company representative, we had three local marketers share their social media stories from what worked, what did not, what they were going to do and how they got started. The local marketers included: Tom Hoof from the Tampa Bay Rays, Doug Sparks, COO of Offshore Sailing School, and Peter Taylor, Director of Marketing for Sarasota Memorial.

The conference goals were to invite the local members of our AMA chapter, as well as local CEO’s and non-members to discuss ways to help grow businesses through social media. The response was huge! The event had 396 RSVP’s, the largest AMA event ever in Tampa Bay!!!

Judging by the large amount of RSVP’s, that it cost $35 or more to attend, and that the event was 3 ½ hours in length, I perceive that this event was considered long overdue and of significant value to our local marketing community. During the 5 company presentations, the audience was encouraged to text in questions that would be answered later in a panel format where all 5 presenters could share their answers. We generated over 45 questions and were not able to review all of them during the presentation. However, I will try to summarize some of the questions, answers and take-a-ways in the paragraphs that follow.

Not surprisingly, Facebook seemed to be the popular choice for questions. Many who attended asked about Facebook’s recent switch to the “Like” button. Mike Haines from Facebook did well “under fire.” While he had to wear the corporate hat, he did a good job explaining that the “Like” button was a way to share content back to your friends on Facebook with one click. A series of questions for Facebook also addressed if eCommerce was coming soon to their platform. Mike’s answer, without revealing too much “secret sauce”, was that Facebook supports the development community. My interpretation was that Facebook might not come out with their own eCommerce platform, but, I sensed that there may be some third party application in the R&D phase that we may see in the near future.

The majority of the remaining questions, or let me say, the ones I can type in this blog, went to the three local marketers and how they got started, what worked and what did not. The common messages from all three marketers are summarized below:

  1. Don’t over-think your Social Media strategy. Listen to other conversations taking place online in your industry and see where you can contribute and add value to the conversations.
  2. Distribute the work load. All three of the local brands did not hire anyone new to their staff and all three decided an intern was not the right solution either. All three brands split up some responsibilities to members of their staff and have been successful, some volunteered, some did not, but eventually everyone became more comfortable and was on board.
  3. All three of the marketers did not know how to measure success and often was not sure they were succeeding. A few started, then stopped, and then restarted. One crucial take away is you cannot stop once you start. It is much more difficult to start up again than if you had maintained your efforts all along.
  4.  Many are still exploring their options on what to do and how to measure their social media efforts. All felt that their efforts were making positive headway, some from things they could track, some more from the gut, but all three said they were glad they started, whether it be with Twitter, You Tube, Facebook, LinkedIn or other social sites. They had no regrets and plan to make larger commitments to Social Media in 2010.

In summary, we had 396 really busy marketers spend 3 ½ hours learning from the big brands of Google and Facebook as well as local marketers, just like me, on how to help your company grow in today’s digital world. We will be posting the questions along with answers that were not answered during the presentations within the next week. We will also have a video for the entire event available. If you are interested in either, feel free to respond to this blog or email me at Kevin@BayshoreSolutions.com

Happy Marketing!!

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