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Before I begin to review Rachel Strella’s latest webinar, I must begin by saying how influential Rachel has been to my career.  I first met her at this year’s Social Media Summit at Harrisburg University.  Since then, I have used the things that I have learned from Rachel to help my career in such ways that I can’t even explain.  Rachel is an amazing speaker and takes the time to answer the many questions that I’ve had in the time we have known each other.  Thanks so much Rachel!

Since I work with many small businesses, I feel that this webinar spoke to me in ways that will not only help me, but my clients as well.  I want the focus of my business to be helping small businesses understand the importance of social media and comprehend the power and short-falls of the medium.  This webinar allowed me to have a firm grasp on how I can help small businesses employ social media strategies for their benefit.

Rachel discussed four major shortcomings for small businesses:  time, resources, money, and social media knowledge.  I’d like to take the time to discuss each of these in regards to the businesses I work with.  Time is a major issue for small businesses, mainly because many owners of small businesses find themselves “wearing many hats” as Rachel puts it.  Small business owners often are accountants, salespeople, social media editors, marketing managers, and many other jobs that they simply cannot afford to hire people to do.  This can be a major problem for them.

Resources also are also at a minimum for small business owners.  While many view resources as money; time, knowledge and even lack of employees would certainly also fall under this category.  For this entry, we will consider resources and money as one.  Because small business owners do not have the resources or money to employ salespeople or social media editors, both of these may lack in comparison to corporate competition.  This is one of the many reasons owning a small business can be a very stressful enterprise.

Social media knowledge may be the most important of the four reasons listed above.  Many small business owners do not have the knowledge needed to conduct a proper social media campaign.  Many feel that simply having a Facebook or Linked In page is all they need to do.  Even if they do post occasionally, the content is not where is should be.  That is why I feel that hiring a consultant for social media is the one simple thing that businesses can do to help elevate their business if they do not have the knowledge already.  Hiring a consultant is not all that needs to be done, however.  You must implement a plan and stick to it!  You must set both short-term and long-term goals and stick to them!  There are ways to make social media work for you, but only with the proper knowledge and follow-through.

I like to compare social media campaigns to caring for a garden.  In the spring (the beginning of your campaign), you must prepare the soil.  You must buy quality product (social media consulting) and plant it at the right time.  From there you must care for your garden (post quality content) and water your garden (have short-term and long-term goals).  After a  few weeks, you will begin to see the “fruits” of your labor (Return on Investment).

Rachel made another interesting point in the webinar; there are a series of shortcomings that small business owners find themselves falling into.  The first shortcoming for small businesses is that they treat social media like advertising.  As I mentioned in my previous blog, social media is a two-way form of marketing.  Where traditional advertising is a one-way medium, social media allows fans and followers the opportunity to interact with the business in a whole new way.  Those businesses who view social media as a one-way medium will never see the advantages that social media has to offer.

Another shortcoming that Rachel discusses is the notion that social media will fix what is wrong with a small business.  This is one thing that I struggle to get business owners to understand.  Social media will not show ROI within a few weeks.  It may not show ROI within a few months.  But if you stick to goals that you have set for yourself, social media will become a valuable part of any business, be it small business or corporate business.  Many owners think that a one-month campaign is enough time to determine whether social media will work or not.  I encourage those of you reading this to understand that social media will never go away.  It is one long, never-ending opportunity to connect with your customers and clients in a new and different way that can add so much value to your business.

The one overwhelming theme from this webinar was this:  A small business owner with no social media training is like myself trying to fix my own car.  I have no knowledge how to fix an automobile, nor do I claim to.  Those owners need to understand, use, and leverage the power of social media.  This can only be done by hiring a consultant, taking classes or webinars or making a serious effort to learn on their own.  So please, if you are a small business owner, understand what course of action you need to take and take it!

For more information on Rachel Strella and Strella Social Media, follow Rachel on Twitter @RachelStrella

Paul M. Miller

pmiller@solutionsforadvertising.com

Twitter: @SolutionsforAdv

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495

I wanted to write a mini-blog about what panels I’m going to and what blogs I will be writing over the course of the next two months.  There are still a limited number of seats available by signing up at:  http://www.harrisburgu.edu/academics/professional/socialmedia/index-2012.php

Social Networking and the Job Search

9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m., Location: Room 1302

This is the panel last year that truly changed my life.  If you are looking for work currently, are in school or may have to look for a job ever in the age of social networking, this panel truly is an awakening.  I hope to learn new things about how to use social networking to help in my current job search.  I’ll keep everyone up to date with what I learn at this year’s panel.

Social Media and Pennsylvania’s Economy

11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Location: Room 1302

Panel Sponsor: WITF

Join a panel of economic development experts, entrepreneurs and firms for a discussion on how social media can help transform the economy of the region, grow new technology companies and create new synergies.

I really think that this panel will have a ton of valuable information, especially for someone like myself that is familiar with social media, but little knowledge about PA’s economy.

Social Media and Political Change

1:15 to 2:45 p.m., Auditorium

Panel Sponsor: The Burg

This is another panel that I attended last year and found to be extremely thought-provoking, especially in regards to the non-profit work that I do.  Non-profits can and should use social media to their advantage because of minimum budgets and my social media knowledge could help non-profits effectively use their resources.

Steve Infanti also was very excited about one of the speakers of the panel Sherrie A. Madia, Ph.D.  “She is coauthor of the critically acclaimed book, The Social Media Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Grow Your Business Exponentially with Social Media.  She has developed and teaches courses and workshops on social media communication strategies.”  I believe that she could be one of the best speakers at the event and I’ll  be sure to discuss what findings she has.

Facing Forward: Discussion on Social Networks and the Future

3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Auditorium

Panel Sponsor: Solutions for Advertising, LLC

We are sponsoring this panel because last year this was one of the more intriguing panels of the day.  I’m very excited to learn about what the new trends in social media are and how I can apply them to my profession.

If this year’s Summit is even half as good as last year, I will consider it a remarkable success.  I am looking to expand my social media footprint in the coming year and believe that the 2012 Social Media Summit at Harrisburg University is a major stepping stone to where I want to go.

Finally, I’ll be tweeting live from the event and look for questions to ask from my followers @SolutionsforAdv.

For more information, to sign-up, or to contact please use the following links:

Information and Sign-Up:  http://www.harrisburgu.edu/academics/professional/socialmedia/index-2012.php

Twitter:  @HUSocialSummit or #HUSocialSummit

Subscribe to Harrisburg University’s Social Media Summit 2012 Alerts by texting sms2012 to 90210.

See everyone Wednesday!

Paul M. Miller

pmiller@solutionsforadvertising.com

Twitter: @SolutionsforAdv

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495

Final Thoughts of 2011

I have been working diligently on researching the QR code blog, so I have decided to give myself another week to complete it.  I did, however, want to discuss and thank a handful of people who made my 2011 possible.  As I would expect to remain active in each of these causes, these are names that will remain familiar on this blog site and should be remembered.

The Harrisburg Autism Society and Logan’s Run and Walk for Autism:

As someone who has an autistic son, I was truly honored to have an opportunity to work with the Harrisburg Autism Society (http://www.autismharrisburg.org).  I volunteered at the event with my significant other and helped to donate taxi-top ads for the walk itself.  The event itself was very well-organized, one that I hope to have a larger part of this coming year.  Georgia Rackley and Sherry Christian were absolute pleasures to work with and should be commended for the Autism Society’s success on our region.  As the event is usually held in April, I’m sure I’ll be discussing this year’s event here very soon.

The Bethesda Mission 2011 Mission Open:

The Bethesda Mission (http://www.bethesdamission.org) has always held a place in my heart as they were my first professional client as I got out of school.  I truly support their mission and what they do for the Harrisburg area.  Director of Community Relations Ken Ross has become much more than a client, however, he has become a friend.  It was my absolute pleasure to serve as a board member for the 2011 Mission Open.  It was my first such experience in my career, and one that I plan on holding each and every year.  Hopefully I will be able to go above and beyond what I did this year as the Mission deserves our support.

Contact Helpline’s 9th Annual Golf Tournament:

I’m so glad that Solutions for Advertising connected with Contact Helpline (http://www.contacthelpline.org) this year for their 9th Annual Golf Tournament.  It was an amazing experience and a wonderful outing.  The best thing about this was getting to learn about their operation.  Cathy Haynes and Kelly Gollick do unbelievable work with an extremely small staff dependent on volunteers.  Their coordination of this organization should be commended.

A special thanks goes out to Cathy Haynes, as she was the person that originally suggested the 2011 Social Media Summit to me.  As readers of this blog know, the Summit was an inspiration to me and my career and I have Cathy to thank for that.  I must also commend Contact Helpline on a wonderful online and social media presence.  Cathy has also agreed to do an interview for this blog regarding their new 211 feature.  This is a major step in the future of Contact Helpline that I feel needs coverage here.

Social Media Summit:

Obviously, the Social Media Summit was an inspiration to me.  I have started this blog and become much more active in my social media career directly because of it.  To new readers, please read my series covering the summit as its’ information is invaluable.  I expect this to be a major part of this blog in the coming months prior and time after the summit in April.  I have already spoke to Steven Infanti and have secured an interview for this blog coming very soon about the 2012 Summit.

Small Business Owners:

I would like to thank a few other individuals for help with my two-part Small Business Saturday blogs; Pete Anderson (Solutions for Advertising), Bart Kaminski (Kollision Media), Cory Lauer (Top Secret Gourmets), and Tim Tatge (Provider Select).  I appreciate the time that you spent speaking with me on behalf of your businesses and I wish you all continued success.

2011 was a fantastic year, but the things that I have lined up for 2012 would seem to make it an even better year than this.  Only time will tell.